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Pitcher Advanced Metrics Studs and Duds: WHIP for Week 24


Welcome back to RotoBaller’s pitchers Statcast and advanced metrics studs and duds article series! Each week we will select an advanced stat, choose two risers and two fallers, and analyze what those stats could mean for future fantasy output. With the fantasy playoffs upon us, I will write about a broader stat that can influence other aspects of a pitcher's game: walks and hits per inning pitched, or WHIP.

While WHIP is more of a general stat, it ties into many other more advanced stats. WHIP is of course made up of walks and hits, so it is important to examine both walk rate as well as BABIP in tandem. Generally speaking, pitchers with higher WHIPs have worse command and are therefore more in danger of poor starts.

At this point in the season, nitty-gritty stats aren't quite as helpful as a general picture of how a pitcher is performing, hence my choice of stat for the week. Let's take a look at some pitchers' WHIPs in hopes of better-understanding how they may perform in their last few starts of the season!

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WHIP Studs

All stats current as of Monday, September 9, courtesy of fangraphs.com.

 

Jack Flaherty - St. Louis Cardinals

(10-7, 2.99 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) 

Our first WHIP stud started the season as a promising young starter yet did not provide what owners were hoping for. However, Jack Flaherty has rebounded throughout the course of the season and now owns a 2.99 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, one of the lowest among qualified starters. Let's take a deeper look at Flaherty's WHIP and how he has found success.

Flaherty checks off all the boxes behind his WHIP that support his success. First, he has kept his walk rate in check at a respectable 7.3%. Second, he has managed a solid .253 BABIP, which is in line with his .260 career mark. Finally, his batted-ball profile supports his BABIP; his average exit velocity (86.4 MPH) and hard-hit rate (32%) are in the top 14 and 19 percent of pitchers. Couple that with a high-end strikeout rate and you have all the makings of a fantasy star.    

Flaherty has been great for most of the season, thanks to his solid control. He has been a huge fantasy asset this season and should remain in owners' lineups for all matchups down the stretch.

 

Sonny Gray - Cincinnati Reds

(10-6, 2.75 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

Our second WHIP stud has had quite the rebound season. Sonny Gray was awful last season with the Yankees but is having a career season in many ways with the Reds, posting a stellar 2.75 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a career-high 28.5% strikeout rate. Gray has been able to keep his WHIP low for a good portion of his career thanks to his groundball style of pitching, but how has he made such a quick turnaround from 2018?

Gray's 9.4% walk rate isn't awful, but it isn't why his WHIP is so low. The main contributor seems to be his .261 BABIP, which is a good deal lower than his career .281 mark. It's interesting that his BABIP has been so solid given his move to a hitter-friendly ballpark. However, his low BABIP is backed up by his batted-ball profile, as both his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate are in the top 28 percent of baseball. 

Gray has managed to find great success all season long and should continue to find it this week at the Mariners. Like Flaherty, he should be a no-brainer start for the rest of the season. 

 

WHIP Duds

All stats current as of Monday, September 9, courtesy of fangraphs.com.

 

Dakota Hudson - St. Louis Cardinals

(15-6, 3.40 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Our first WHIP dud is a teammate of Flaherty and has also performed well this season despite being young. Dakota Hudson has been a solid piece in the Cardinals' rotation throughout the season, in spite of having one of the highest WHIPs among qualified starters. Should this concern fantasy owners as we enter the later rounds of the playoffs?

Hudson's walk rate isn't the culprit behind his high WHIP; his 10.5% isn't great, but isn't terrible. His .279 BABIP is also manageable, although his 4.98 SIERA suggests that he has gotten lucky throughout the season. His average exit velocity (88.7 MPH) and hard-hit rate (38.9%) are both below league average. What saves him is his extremely-low launch angle at 2.9 degrees. Hudson is a sinker-ball pitcher and has done it well, hence his strong peripherals.

Hudson's peripheral stats are solid, but his underlying numbers send mixed signals. The good news is that he has kept the ball on the ground, limiting the damage of the hits he gives up. The bad news is that he will be on the road against the Rockies this week, where it is quite difficult to keep the ball out of the air. Despite his performance this season, I would be afraid to start him this week.

Eduardo Rodriguez - Boston Red Sox

(17-5, 3.81 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

Our second hard-hit rate stud has put together a solid season overall, posting a 3.81 ERA and 23% strikeout rate. The one sore spot that stands out for Rodriguez is his high WHIP. Should this concern owners down the stretch?

Rodriguez's walk 9% walk rate is not the culprit for his high WHIP. He also has an excellent batted-ball profile, with both his average exit velocity and hard-hit rate in the top eight percent of baseball. The perpetrator seems to be his elevated .311 BABIP compared to a .297 career mark. It seems as though E. Rod is getting unlucky on balls in play, which, while certainly unfortunate, is a more-welcome explanation than him pitching poorly. 

Rodriguez has been pretty reliable for most of the season and gets a two-start week. He will have to face the Yankees and Phillies on the road, which are both tough matchups. However, I would be willing to trust him despite his WHIP issues. 

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