Baseball Duck Tales – September 2017 Edition

Updated: September 2, 2017

We are baaaacckkkk! Welcome to what will be the last in-season edition of the Baseball Duck Tales, and then we’ll follow that up with a season recap in October once the playoffs are underway. The Duck rating was originally derived as a hopefully accessible way to look underneath pitcher ERA which lies to us on a regular basis because it doesn’t account for the little bloop hits that probably should have been caught but then got mishandled and allowed two runs. We boiled down some commonly used diagnostic metrics to rank pitchers based on just one number. Again, I won’t go through the nitty-gritty again, so check that out here.

Before I put the updated leaderboard below, I do want to clear up that the leaderboard looks at ONLY pitchers who have thrown 80+ innings over the course of the ENTIRE season to date. It is not broken down by month. So, this is not how this pitcher has fared in the month of August, but rather how they have fared throughout the season, and their rank is compared to their August rank (Change column). One month of five or six starts is just too small of a sample size to glean anything actionable, so it’s best to look at progression rather than just small chunks of starts as separate entities in this exercise. Also, the Change column does need to be taken with a slight grain of salt, because ingrained into that is also change from new pitchers hitting 80 innings pitched sometime during the month of August, so pitchers on the extreme end of change may be more interesting.

Here are the league averages used to calculate the current Duck ratings:

  • SwStr%: 9.70%
  • K%: 20.50%
  • BABIP: 0.298
  • BB%: 8.10%
  • xFIP: 4.42
  • HardCon%: 32.40%
  • ERA: 4.49
  • WHIP: 1.36

Last month I said every edition would look at some highlights and lowlights of the rating to point out some pitchers performing above and below their value. Well, I lied, because this is my column and I can do what I want, this month I wanted to look at some pitchers who just reached the 80 IP threshold within the last calendar month and provide some general thoughts on their season and whether they should be trusted down the stretch. My instinct says to call them “Baby Ducks” which seems weird but now I’m committed to it.

Baby Ducks

  • Danny Salazar (5th): 5th! For all intents and purposes, kind of a lost year for Salazar owners, but it definitely wasn’t for lack of trying. The high WHIP and the mediocre ERA has driven people crazy, but if we’re looking at it objectively, it’s not nearly as tough of a pill to swallow in this environment given he strikes so many batters out. The injury issue is definitely more prevalent, but if Salazar is coming back next week as reported, I would be excited by his prospects in the stretch run.
  • Brad Peacock (23rd): Brad Peacock is fun. Tantalizing strikeouts and a walk issue (sound familiar? Look at the name above.) He seems to have figured out how to go a bit deeper into games, which is great for fantasy value (win/QS potential) but there definitely is the concern about what happens when all the pieces are healthy and pitching in Houston, with Verlander coming into town and McCullers potentially returning within the next week or two, but here’s to hoping Mike Fiers is the first man to the pen, and not Peacock, even though Peacock’s electric stuff might be best in high leverage situations.
  • Jameson Taillon (51st): I’m a fan of Jameson Taillon. He’s definitely one the best stories of this baseball season (Chad Bettis comeback is right there too.). I just think his skillset is a little limited from a fantasy angle. He’s not really a bat-misser and if the walks aren’t in control, he runs into some trouble. 51st on the leaerboard isn’t BAD by any stretch of the imagination, he’s an above average pitcher and quite good as a mid-rotation asset for an MLB team. I think he’s generally solid, but as we’ve seen with guys like Dallas Keuchel and Sonny Gray, the margin for error for pitchers of that ilk is not very big.
  • Parker Bridwell (89th): Run. This can’t end well. The swinging strike rate is bad. The strikeout rate is bad. He’s getting lucky. The hard hit rate is bad. He’s been useful for a stretch here but depending on him in the fantasy playoffs is a recipe for disaster. 14+ team depth is probably a hold at this point, but I’d be nervous about him even in good matchups (see vs OAK, August 30th)
  • Cole Hamels (130th): What a fall from grace. I highlighted him in the 2016 review as someone who was iffy despite pretty good numbers and a Cy-young caliber season before the last few starts derailed that hope. Well, as of today, Hamels is 130th out of 136 qualifiers on the 2017 Duck leaderboard. Update: that’s really bad. Literally none of the numbers this season say he can maintain the 3.30 ERA. It’s sad to see declines like this, but he’s not the only older pitcher we’ve seen a dramatic decline from. Felix has been trending this direction, Lackey has basically hung up the laces to fight people in the Wrigley field parking lot, James Shields hasn’t been the same since Bartolomas (observed on May 7th). My instinct tells me that Hamels will grit out another season or two of relevance, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

That’s everything from our September Duckdate. We’ll be back in October for a season-in-review and final leaderboard update.


All statistics pulled from Fangraphs leaderboards.

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