When analyzing fantasy baseball pitchers, there is often the tendency to highly value those who strike out a lot of batters. But is it possible to over-value this stat? Probably not, but it got me to thinking. Since part of the fun of playing this game is trying to pick out the fantasy baseball diamonds in the rough perhaps it’s worth looking at a few pitchers who might be under-valued by some fantasy baseball owners because of the low strikeout rates. If these pitchers are still able to add value in other categories, they might be able to help out your fantasy baseball team as well.
Let’s take a look at a few pitchers who may be somewhat under-valued in your league because of their lack of eye-popping “K” numbers:
Tim Hudson (ATL) –
After returning from Tommy John surgery, Hudson put up some really nice numbers in 2010. His K/9 in 2011 is only 5.13 but his ERA (3.75) and his WHIP (1.10) would help out any fantasy roster.
Rick Porcello (DET) –
Never blessed with high strikeout totals, Porcello has often been overlooked. His overall numbers are not bad (3.79 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) when you consider that the damage done against him has been contained to a few poor outings (especially in April). In 7 of his last 8 starts, he has yielded fewer than 2 earned runs.
Charlie Morton (PIT) –
A K/9 rate of 4.90 won’t scare too many big league hitters to be sure. However, his 2.51 ERA is stellar and with 143 ground balls, he’s pitching to contact. Walks are issue, but if he gets those under control (0 in his last start), that inflated WHIP of 1.37 may start coming down.
Kevin Correia (PIT) –
The first pitcher in the Majors to 8 wins is only owned in about 40% of fantasy baseball leagues. Many owners see his 3.99 K/9 rate and stay away but Correia is bringing more than K’s to the table. A 3.40 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 135 ground balls show that he is pitching effectively. Any fantasy baseball team could use a guy like this on the back end of their rotation.
Nick Blackburn (MIN) -
With a ground ball rate of 51% and a K/9 of only 4.52, Blackburn is putting a lot of balls in play which can leave him susceptible to bad outings (see May 30th against the Tigers). However, his ERA of 3.86 is very respectable and in his 5 other May starts, he didn’t allow more than 2 earned runs in any of them.
There's a really interesting article at Nick's Twins Blog about Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire wanting Francisco Liriano pitching to contact more often. Gardenhire took quite a bit of flak for his comments. It goes to show just how high a value is placed upon strikeouts as a key weapon in a pitcher's arsenal.
Do strikeouts matter that much? Is it possible to pick out some gems from the non-flamethrowers? Or are you just playing with fire?