In this column, and this week's Playing With Numbers, we're looking at pitchers who had strong springs. The Numbers piece keyed on hurlers who no longer qualify as rooks. Below are some rookies worth looking into. Some are obvious, some might be less so. I promise, next week, we'll stop grinding through spring training stats.
2007 Surge Candidates -- Spring Training Numbers
EST BA(estimated batting-average allowed): H/(H + IP * 2.89)
EST OBP (estimated OBP allowed): (H+BB+HBP)/(IP * 2.89 + H + HBP)
EST SLG(estimated slugging allowed): (TB)/(IP * 2.89 + H)
EST RC (estimated runs created): EST OBP * EST SLG * (2.89 * IP + H)
EST RCG (estimated runs created per game): EST RC / IP * 9
To qualify for this list, the player in question had to:
• Be a big league rookie (unless his name is Chad!).
• Have an Estimated Runs Created Per Game (more on that in the stat key) below 4.70.
• Strike out at least six batters per nine innings
• Have a K/BB ratio of 2-plus.
I took basic spring training info, figured out what a pitcher's ERA should have been, then tweaked my sorts to give me a list of guys who performed at an elite level. I think we've got roughly 15 guys who could really surprise based on their admittedly limited spring training performances.
• Brandon Morrow is 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, and he is filthy. His fastball threatens the 100 mph barrier, and he has a hard slider and a splitter that could make him a deadly starter or reliever. He is being looked at as a reliever as I write this, but anything is possible in 2008 and beyond. He could be an impact pitcher as early as this season.
• A 2002 first-round pick from Stanford, Jeremy Guthrie was expected to do great things for the Indians, but he never amounted to much despite plus stuff. Guthrie ended up heading to camp with the Orioles this spring and has looked superb. He is a sleeper who could get holds and possibly saves down the road.
• Juan Salas didn't allow a run his first 48.1 innings in the minors last season. He has a cutter that hits 95 mph, and Baseball America quoted one scout as saying the pitch is akin to Mariano Rivera's. Salas is considered Tampa Bay's closer of the future.
• Rafael Perez is a lefty who could end up in the bullpen or the rotation. He has a 96 mph fastball and a sharp slider. He consistently puts up good secondary numbers, and the formula I use indicates he is better than his performance. Nice upside in AL-only leagues for this year.
• Chad Billingsley's command isn't great, but it looks far better than it did in Los Angeles last season, and the semi-pessimism I expressed in January is starting to melt in the Florida sunshine. You'll probably hate the WHIP but love the pitcher.
• Thomas Mastny does little other than generate outs. His stuff isn't anything exciting, but he has performed superbly wherever he has pitched. Great sleeper.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka's secondary indicators suggest he is better than his 2.91 spring ERA far better. His command has me worried a stitch, otherwise, all systems are gyro.
• Rocky Cherry has a ridiculous name and a ridiculous K-rate. He has a sinker that hits 95 and a wicked slider. He has a history of injury problems, so he must stay healthy. Still, he could be a nice surprise in NL-only/deep situations.
• Bobby Livingston was demoted to the minors from spring camp a little while ago, but he is a touch-and-feel lefty who could carve out a Jamie Moyer career. Keep an eye on him if you're desperate for starting-pitcher help.
• Joakim Soria has a low-90s fastball, good command, and he changes speeds well. He went off during winter ball this past offseason, and he continues to pitch well. The usual caveats regarding the Royals apply, but this team could really surprise if Billy Butler and Alex Gordon get 1,000 at-bats between them. Soria's a sleeper for 10-15 wins.
• Owings is a big boy (6-foot-5, 220), and he has a good slider and a fastball that can touch 95 mph. Owings' strong spring earned him the No. 5 slot in the rotation while Randy Johnson gets his act together. Owings isn't a great guy to have at this moment, but by season's end, he might have earned a rotation spot for keeps.
• Kevin Slowey could be the Twins' ace in a couple of years. He has average stuff, but Maddux-like command, and he changes speeds with ease. Baseball America keeps comparing Slowey to Brad Radke, but I think Slowey has the potential to be far better -- perhaps a pocket Maddux who achieves 200-plus wins in a nice, long career.
• Tim Lincecum's main indicators look mediocre, but his command and everything else look OK. Look for him to surface with the team later this season.
David Srinivasan writes about statistics and the minors for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.COM, if you wish to ask questions, or whine about getting jobbed during your auction, please e-mail him at "mailto:email@example.com">Srini@TalentedMrRoto.com