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Justin Masterson

Postby NWilli » Fri May 21, 2010 11:21 pm

This guy is really intriguing to me and I think he can be a top pitcher for the rest of the year. Here's why:

-His GB% is 62.3%, good for 2nd in the league.
-His K/9 is 9.63, good for 9th in the league. That's elite.
-His BABIP is .399 (highest in the league), which indicates he's been very unlucky thus far.
-His HR/FB is 19% (highest in the league). This also indicates he's been unlucky.
-His LOB% is 65.5%, 19th worst in the league. This is another indicator he's been unlucky.
-His xFIP is 3.60 while his ERA is 5.65. This is just another indicator he's been unlucky (kind of a consolidation of these other unlucky factors), and indicates his ERA will drop significantly.

But I'm a bit wary of him, in spite of all this, for a couple reasons. First of all, he hasn't produced yet, so it's hard to be too confident in his future statistics. Second of all, his BB/9 rate is 5.02 (6th worst in the league) and his K/BB is 1.92, which is not great.

What do you all think? Worth a pickup in a mixed league? Anyone seen him pitch?


I got all of these statistics from http://www.fangraphs.com. If any of my reasons need explaining, just ask.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby jswede » Sat May 22, 2010 12:05 am

it's all in the splits. at 25, he just hasn't yet figured out lefties.

xFIP career:
3.23 vs R
4.96 vs L

xFIP 2010:
1.98 vs R
5.46 vs L

He could wind up a really nasty relief specialist if he doesn't figure em soon, but I am watching him as he is definitely better than his results this year, just like you say. I think he needs another effective pitch to lefties at least. I'm no expert on this but he's very very much a fast ball guy, with sparingly used change and slider. His fastball moves A LOT - devastating to righties, but right along the line of a lefties' swing.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby j24jags » Sat May 22, 2010 1:24 am

If he improves on getting lefties out and throwing strikes we could see a top 25 SP for sure; however those are two pretty big ifs. He definitely has the upside, I am a fan, but he has had some bad starts, and there will be some bumps along the road. I do not expect him to be a top 25 SP this year, he could very well end top 40 though.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby jake_twothousandfive » Sat May 22, 2010 1:29 am

Keep in mind that not all sabermetrics are useful for fantasy purposes.

It isn't uncommon for pitchers who have high strikeouts to have higher BABIPs. Naturally BABIP will rise as the denominator in the formula used in it's calculation falls (see Randy Johnson from 1998-2002; when he recorded 300+ Ks each season). So his high K/9 is working against him here (9.63 K/9 doesn't look to be sustainable for him anyways). Moreover, BABIP excludes defensive efficiency. A bad defense will cost a team/pitcher an out from time to time (not necessarily reflected in errors) and will raise his BABIP. By most accounts, the Indians have a below average defense.

Also, HR/FB% isn't really indicative of luck. A pitcher has much more control over HR/FB than he does BABIP. Limiting the long ball is a skill. This also explains his low xFIP.

Masterson's poor command is a bad sign (5.02 BB/9, 46.7% Zone%). Particularly for someone who relys so heavily on the fastball (80.3%).
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby swyck » Sat May 22, 2010 12:59 pm

jake_twothousandfive wrote:Masterson's poor command is a bad sign (5.02 BB/9, 46.7% Zone%). Particularly for someone who relys so heavily on the fastball (80.3%).

I'm keeping an eye on him, and I had him on a roster earlier in the season. The command is the main issue as I see it. With that K rate it doesn't have to be great but 5 BB/9 is just not viable.

Love the GB rate, and K rate but the control ain't there.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby NWilli » Sat May 22, 2010 3:32 pm

@jswede: good to know. where did you find that data?

@jake_twothousandfive: I have specifically read that these sabermetics are useful for evaluating pitchers. From http://saberlibrary.com/pitching/hrs/:

Taking a glance at a pitcher’s HR/FB rate can help tell you if a player got lucky or unlucky over a season. Pitchers with HR/FB rates much higher or lower than league average will tend to regress towards league average in the future, which will have a corresponding effect on their ERAs and FIPs.


From http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=babip:

Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher's defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .300.


I'll admit I'm new to fantasy baseball and all of these sabermetrics, but I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. It's possible the Indian's D is that bad that all of their pitchers have very high BABIPs. However, the other starters in their rotation all have sub-.300 BABIP except for J. Westbrook, with a .311 BABIP. So I think Masterson is getting unlucky there, as far as the defensive efficiency factor would affect his BABIP.

As for how a high K/9 rate affects BABIP, Johnson's BABIP from '98-'02 ranged from .300 to .333, nowhere near Masterson's current level, with a higher K/9 rate. Lincecum's current BABIP is .285, with a higher K/9 rate than Masterson (small sample size though) and his past two years his BABIP was .313 and .297. I don't think I understand why striking players out would make it more likely that other players batted balls become hits, and I'm not sure I see a correlation between K/9 rates and BABIP's.

EDIT: Tried (and failed) to fix first link, and made last paragraph more clear.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby jake_twothousandfive » Sat May 22, 2010 3:50 pm

Of course Masterson has been somewhat unlucky to this point. A .399 BABIP simply will not last but I was just pointing out that there are logical reasons why it's currently above league average.

Masterson has a high HR/FB% mainly because he has allowed so few fly balls to this point (he has only allowed 4 HRs). As his GB% falls (I don't see it staying above 60%) and his FB% rises this number will come down. It does not indicate terrible luck however.

His control is his biggest downfall to this point and the main reason he doesn't have much fantasy relevancy in most leagues right now. He's not the first pitcher to have good-to-great stuff limited by poor control. Some figure it out, some don't. Time will tell.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby J.C.Fighter » Sat May 22, 2010 4:19 pm

Justin is terrible right now , I wouldn't blame it his production on unluckiness. He's just a terrible starting pitcher. His future is bullpen ROOGY..
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby Skin Blues » Sat May 22, 2010 4:49 pm

jake_twothousandfive wrote:Naturally BABIP will rise as the denominator in the formula used in it's calculation falls (see Randy Johnson from 1998-2002; when he recorded 300+ Ks each season). So his high K/9 is working against him here

This is just plain untrue. Every K you get both adds and subtracts a "1" to the denominator in the form of +1 AB and -1 K. The net result is no change to the BABIP. If anything, a higher K/9 would mean that batters aren't squaring the ball up very well and would probably lead to a lower BABIP. I haven't run the numbers but I'm quite certain that a high K/9 would correlate to a lower BABIP.

jake_twothousandfive wrote:Also, HR/FB% isn't really indicative of luck.

It's more within the pitcher's control than BABIP is, but that doesn't meant here isn't an element of luck in high/low outliers. It's very useful to look at this stat to see if an inordinate amount of fly balls are leaving the yard, because HRs have such a huge effect on ERA. Over time the hitters that you allow fly balls to will normalize to league average power hitters, whereas he might have given up a lot of fly balls to power hitters while the weak hitters got a bunch of grounders. Or vice versa.
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Re: Justin Masterson

Postby jswede » Sat May 22, 2010 6:10 pm

NWilli wrote:@jswede: good to know. where did you find that data?


Fangraphs; pull up the player, then 'splits'.
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