Fantasy Baseball Sell-High Candidates: 5 Pitchers with the Highest Strand Rates

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 2, 2011

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 11:  Alexi Ogando #41 of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch while playing the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on April 11, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There are many ways that a pitcher can get lucky, helping to make their statistics look significantly better than they should.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at pitchers who have benefited from above-average strand rates in April, indicating that now may be the time to cut bait and maximize your returns.  Once their luck runs out, their value could certainly plummet.

Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers, 95.5 percent

Ogando has been pitching amazingly since being inserted into the rotation when the Rangers had a rash of injuries.  Over his first 31.1 innings, he has posted a 2.30 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. 

Combine his unbelievably-low strand rate with an equally unbelievable BABIP (.165) and it is easy to deduct that he is going to suffer a regression, and likely soon.  Just to make matters even more daunting, Ogando could easily face an innings limit in 2011, having thrown just 71.2 innings in 2010 (mostly out of the bullpen). 

In fact, when Brandon Webb and others get healthy, there’s a good chance Ogando is moved back to the bullpen to preserve his arm.  He’s been a tremendous story in the season’s first month, but if someone in your league is willing to pay for that success, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.

Josh Tomlin, Cleveland Indians, 91.7 percent

Like Ogando, Tomlin’s success is centered around significant luck.  He hasn’t shown the strikeout potential that you’d like to see (4.91 thus far in ’11) and also has benefited from an extremely lucky .179 BABIP. 

Over his minor-league career, he did post a K/9 of 7.81, so there’s a little bit of growth possible, but the strikeout rate he’s posted thus far this season isn’t that unexpected.  The fact of the matter is that great control can only take you so far, especially when you aren’t generating a significant number of groundballs (40.4 percent in ’11). 

I’m not sure too many people are going to be willing to give up much to get him, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to kick the tires and see what may be out there.

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels, 90.6 percent

Yes, there has been some significant luck in play when looking at Weaver’s success, but is anyone really questioning his ability?  Yes, there’s the chance that he regresses a little bit, but it’s impossible to imagine anyone maintaining a 0.99 ERA and 0.79 WHIP.  He clearly has developed into one of the elite strikeout pitchers in the game…then again, he’s one of the elite in the game, period.

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers, 87.1 percent

Here is the first name on this list where there can be some debate.  In 2010, we saw both sides of Scherzer; the really, really good and the really, really bad.  The first month of the season for Scherzer has been a real mixed bag, leading to his 3.82 ERA and 1.51 WHIP:

  • Obviously, the strand rate is incredibly lucky.
  • His .317 BABIP is not outrageous, but there is room for him to improve on this number.
  • He has struggled with his control, with a BB/9 of 4.30.  Considering his career 3.37 BB/9, there is good reason to believe that he’s going to significantly improve in this department, further helping his numbers.
  • His current HR/FB of 15.6 percent would be a career-high mark, again giving us reason to believe that he could improve upon the overall numbers.

Yes, he is sporting a lucky strand rate, but the rest of the numbers indicate a potential improvement.  I would actually highly recommend trying to acquire him, if someone in your league is willing to part with him.

Trevor Cahill, Oakland Athletics, 87.1 percent

Cahill is showing an improved strikeout rate (7.75 K/9), which certainly is possible considering the success he had shown in the minor leagues.  If he can continue with that type of number, to go along with a good groundball rate (50.0 percent) and solid control (2.82 BB/9), there is actually a lot to like from Cahill moving forward. 

Is he going to maintain a 1.88 ERA and 1.12 WHIP?  Not likely (especially given the strand rate), but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t going to be able to produce.  It all depends on the strikeouts, really.

If you are a believer that he can maintain the improved mark (9.9 K/9 over minor league career), then there is no reason to think that he can’t continue to be productive.  If you believe he will regress to his 2010 numbers (5.40 K/9), now is the time to sell him. 

Personally, I think he can strikeout more than he did in ’10, but probably not maintain his current mark.  So, if someone was willing to give me a lot for him, I’d deal him.

What are your thoughts on these five pitchers?  Who do you think are good sell-high candidates?  Who would you hold on to?

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