For nearly every team, MLB free agency has already begun. Teams have already started planning for the offseason, and as this postseason has taught us, starting pitching rules all.
So why not analyze every single starter that will be available in MLB free agency? 47 names, all broken down for you, the fans. From the Gerrit Cole‘s of the world to the Steven Wright‘s, every single starter available for teams to sign will be included in this piece.
First off, the players have been broken up into tiers, and those are as follows (click on a certain tier to jump directly to that page).
- Tier One: The Aces
- The best of the best
- Big money deals
- Tier Two: Frontline Starters
- #2 options in any rotation
- Won’t absolutely break the bank
- Tier Three: Mid-Rotation With Upside
- Solid, reliable veterans
- Some pitchers with huge upside going into 2020
- Tier Four: Mid-Rotation/Backend Options
- Mostly veterans on their last legs
- Still somewhat solid production
- Tier Five: Backend Options/Spring Training Invites
- Horrible 2019 seasons
- Extremely cheap, possible value deals
- Tier Six: Injured/Possible Retirements
- Bounce back candidates galore
- Veterans who, if they don’t retire, can provide serious production
We’ll be breaking down each pitcher’s stats, give a summary of their season, go over potential risks, then predict each player’s possible contract they’ll sign this winter.
The statistics used are as follows, with the acronym and brief explanation of each.
Win Loss Record (W/N): This isn’t the best indicator for pitcher production, but is kept in due to is being a traditional statistic for starters.
Innings Pitcher (IP): The total number a pitcher threw over the course of the season.
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Earned Run Average (ERA): This is the number of runs that, on average, a pitcher would allow per nine innings. The best surface level statistic used when analyzing pitchers. A 4.47 ERA was the average in the MLB this season.
Strikeouts Per Nine Innings (K/9): Pretty self-explanatory. This is the number of strikeouts a pitcher averages for every nine innings pitched in a season. There was an average of 8.9 strikeouts per game in 2019.
Walks Plus Hitters Per Inning (WHIP): This is the best stat to gauge how much traffic a pitcher allows on the basepaths. Walks and hits are included due pitchers usually being responsible for those, unlike errors. The average WHIP in 2019 was 1.334.
Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP): While ERA is typically a good indicator for a pitcher’s overall performance, FIP can be a good indicator of a pitcher running into good or bad luck. It isn’t needed for every starter, but if there’s a noticeable gap between FIP and ERA in either direction, it could mean some regression to the mean is in order.
Baseball Reference Wins Above Replacement (bWAR): Wins Above Replacement has taken over the MLB’s statheads this decade. To put it simply, WAR is the complete stat for baseball players. While it’s more popular for position players, it encompasses a pitchers’ total production as well. For this article, Baseball Reference’s version of WAR was used.
Without further ado…