Feb 22, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray poses for a portrait during photo day at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Breakout Pitchers (Based Upon the Second Half of 2013)

2013 was a fantastic year for pitchers. Not only did they begin the year strong, but several finished the year even stronger, picking up steam as they went along, even though fatigue should have worn them out.

Jose Fernandez is an excellent example. His ROY campaign began strong, but did you know he had a second half ERA of 1.32, better than even Clayton Kershaw‘s 1.59 ERA?

Several other pitchers had a shiny second half ERA. Some are big names like Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner, but there are several sneaky names on the list, like Sonny Gray and Andrew Cashner. Surprisingly, Houston Astros pitcher Brett Oberholtzer was one of the tops in the game at 2.24.


K/9 and WHIP

There are certainly some familiar names with an insane strikeout rate. Jose Fernandez and Yu Darvish were the top starters in K/9 for the 2nd half of 2013, but there were also sneaky names like Tyson Ross.

Pitchers can’t live via the strikeout alone, they also need to limit hits and walks.

Again Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez are also near the top of the WHIP list, but there are some less known names there as well, notably Andrew Cashner and that Tyson Ross character again.


Cherry Picking Numbers

It’s just fun with numbers here. Clearly, I am cherry picking some great pitchers who had a fantastic run after 2013’s All Star Break.

But can this help pick breakout pitchers for 2014?

Objectively, no. Numbers like ERA and WHIP are descriptive, while you want to stick with predictive numbers when trying to predict the future. I’ve written before about the underlying metrics I use to identify sleeper pitchers. Read that if you are interested in a deeper dive. Or look here at what Tanner Bell has done, using Pitchfx to predict breakout pitchers. He’ll blow your mind with that.

But although we don’t have the math to support an objective claim of breakout for some of these guys, it’s not as if it has no value. We can play a hunch here. We can go with the gut and say that we feel good about these pitchers. They had a solid second half last year, they are pitching with confidence, and they are poised for success in 2014.

Why not?

Without further adieu, below is a table of pitchers and the stellar stats they flashed during the second half of 2013. How you let these numbers effect your 2014 draft is up to you.

2013 Second Half Pitching Leaders

Ubaldo Jimenez1.821.1410.7
Andrew Cashner2.140.957.3
Brett Oberholtzer2.241.065.7
Tyson Ross2.930.999.6
Sonny Gray2.761.139.3
Marco Estrada2.150.758.6

Tags: Andrew Cashner Fantasy Baseball MLB Pitchers Sonny Gray

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