May 24, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

MLB "valuable" pitchers: The top 5

Earlier I had a list of the top 5 position players, now the hurlers get their turn.

A quick reminder how I did this. I went to Fangraphs and retrieved the Value info from their pitchers leaders page. I then referred to Cot’s Contracts for the contract info and took what each player is making for this season, not the value of his entire contract.

That left me the following…

Fangraphs value – 2014 contract = overall “value”

I’ll add a qualifying statement here. Just because you don’t see a particular pitcher listed here doesn’t mean he’s not having a good season. Here’s an example.

We all know that Masahiro Tanaka has been stellar this season, save his loss to the Chicago Cubs. Fangraphs has Tanaka’s value at $10.4M, 5th best in all of baseball. Yet, he will receive $22M for this season. Has he been worth the big contract? Thus far, he sure has.

In other words, don’t get caught up not seeing Tanaka or other high-priced pitchers on this list. Some of those guys will prove their value by season’s end.

All statistics, except where noted, are as of the conclusion of games on May 24.

5. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

Fangraphs value = $8.7M
2014 contract = $509k
Overall = $8.2M
Fangraphs value ranking = 17

Serously, you didn’t expect any Houston player to crack this list or the one for position players. Surprise!

Well, at least one observant person is. That’s CttP staff writer Travis Honeycutt. A couple of days back, Honeycutt did a piece on Keuchel and how he’s making a bid for the All-Star Game. He also has a piece of the puzzle why Keuchel has excelled this season.

“And the contrast between his numbers from 2013 to 2014 is pretty baffling. His H/9 (7.7 compared to 10.8 last year), BB/9 (1.8, 3.0) and HR/9 (0.6, 1.2) are all down while his strikeout rate has inflated from 7.2 to 8.0″

These numbers do not include Keuchel’s outing from today. He won with a complete game four-hitter. SOme of these numbers are likely to improve.

Keuchel carried into today’s game an ERA of 2.92 (29th), FIP of 2.79 (16th), and xFIP of 2.65 (3rd). The rankings are in parenthesis and reflect their MLB rank, not only the American League.

And just when you think you’ve seen too many positives about Keuchel, read this. He has the highest groundball rate in the bigs. A whopping 67.7%!

4. Aaron Harang, Atlanta Braves

Fangraphs value = $9.4M
2014 contract = $1M
Overall = $8.4M
Fangraphs value ranking = 7

So the Aaron Harang of late isn’t the Aaron Harang we saw at the beginning of the season. Yes, his ERA has climbed to 3.32, but his FIP of 2.30 is 4th for all qualifying pitchers. The xFIP of 3.24 still cracks the top 30 at 25th.

When Harang was a member of the Cincinnati Reds, he once led the NL in strikeouts. Well, he’s rediscovered the whiff. His SO/9 of 9.65 is the highest of his career. Of course, he has to maintain that in order for it to actually be his career high. In case you’re wondering, 8.47 is his highest SO/9 for his career. It’s doable.

And what’s kind of strange is that Harang’s BABIP against is a somewhat high .327.

3. Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins

Fangraphs value = $9.1M
2014 contract = $635k
Overall = $8.5M (rounded)
Fangraphs value ranking = 13

So we know this won’t change sine Fernandez will miss the remainder of the season. At the time of his injury, Fernandez held opposing batters to a .188 batting average. His SO/9 of 12.2 continues to lead the majors. Well, eventually it won’t, and we are all saddened not see him pitch more this season.

That is unless you’re the Atlanta Braves.

2. Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels

Fangraphs value = $9.2M
2014 contract = $520k
Overall = $8.7M (rounded)
Fangraphs value ranking = 12

A little over a week ago, CttP staff writer James Krueger told us that Richards is now reaching his potential. He concluded his piece with this:

“[Garrett] Richards is on track to establishing himself as a top starter in the game, and if you enjoy pitching, now is the time to hop on for a ride.”

I highly suggest reading Kruger’s piece as he dissects many facets of Richards.

Who knows how long that ride will last, but if Richards continues at this pace, that ride will be a long one. He currently has baseball’s 8th best FIP (2.58). He’s holding opposing batters to a .209 average, 10th best in baseball.

And just like how we saw improvement in certain numbers with Keuchel, the same holds true for Richards. In comparing last year to this year, Richards drastically reduced his H/9 from 9.4 to 6.9. His SO/9 has climbed from 6.3 to 8.4. Yes, he’s walking a little more (2.7 to 3.4). And he leads the majors in HR/9 (0.2). Only one homer allowed in his nine games.

1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland Indians

Fangraphs value = $14.2M
2014 contract = $514k
Overall = $13.7M (rounded)
Fangraphs value ranking = 1

A lot to love about the season Kluber is having. Despite opponents hitting .259 off him (and a BABIP of .350), Kluber owns baseball’s second best FIP of 2.23. Only Jose Fernandez is better. That will change for at least one reason.

But Kluber’s xFIP of 2.72 is ranked 8th. His SO/9 of 10.3 is 5th and his BB/9 is only 2.11. But his HR/9 of 0.50 may rank him 13th, but there’s some pretty big names not known for surrendering the long ball ahead of him. You know, Justin Verlander, Adam Wainwright and Felix Hernandez. Some good company there.

I don;t expect all of these guys to maintain their performances only because they have some history that we can fall back on for comparison. Still, would be something if four of these five can maintain the season’s they are having.

Tags: Aaron Harang Corey Kluber Dallas Keuchel Garrett Richards Jose Fernandez

comments powered by Disqus