If you're going to draft one pitcher a little bit too early in your fantasy baseball draft, take a look at this list of curious pitchers and, for your own good, be sure to include San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
This a tool kit for you to refer back to and understand that you can look at last year's stats and understand who should be set to have a good year next year due to a case of unlucky fielding behind him. The pitchers listed here were all plagued by unfortunate luck last season, but also proved that they had a lot of talent themselves. The leading example of this is young Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner (13-13) is a pitcher who finally got a chance to show his talents at the MLB level last season. Now 21 years old, Bumgarner has secured the third spot for a San Francisco Giants team known for having elite pitching. In a thoroughly unimpressive NL West division, the pitching depth of San Francisco is translated via victories and a recent MLB World Series title.
While 2010 was his first season in MLB, Bumgarner shined in the minors with an impressive record (7-1) in 82.2 innings pitched before getting promoted to the majors. Once in the majors, Bumgarner won seven games in 18 starts and rocked an impressive 6.97 K/9.
The curious case of Bumgarner began in 2011, however, when Sabermetric research proved him to be one of the most statistically unlucky pitchers in the National League.
The statistic FIP (fielding independent pitching) is defined as "a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible and […] helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded."
In practice, it is expected to resemble his deserved ERA. And the difference between Bumgarner's FIP and ERA is astronomical.
Bumgarner sported a 3.21 ERA, but a 2.67 FIP. This contributed to a less impressive record, at exactly .500 on the season, and a significantly less dominant fantasy season in 2011.
It's a statistical improbability, though, for that same unlucky streak to continue in 2012. By accounting for FIP rather than ERA, Bumgarner is among a list of pitchers to consider as sleepers in the upcoming fantasy baseball season.
The best thing about Bumgarner is he has 15 Ks and has only walked one batter in 14.2 IP during spring training thus far.
Bumgarner is not the only one who was plagued by such unfortunate luck.