This article is part of our Baseball Draft Kit series.
Over the years, I have written dozens of articles related to pitching analysis, and though I have often thought that I "knew" what I was talking about, some of the assertions that I have lived by no longer hold much weight as I set my pitching draft boards. The Verducci Effect stated that pitchers under 25 who added 30 or more innings to their prior-year totals were more susceptible to injury the following year. That belief has all but been debunked, though I will be curious to see how well Matt Harvey pitches in 2016. Other analysts insist that guys with odd-looking deliveries are bound to get hurt, but Chris Sale made 31 starts last year and Clayton Kershaw has survived with the hitch in his delivery.
Here are the five main things I consider when rankings my starting pitchers for drafts:
- Advanced Metrics
- Youth and Upside Over Safety
- Previous Year Finish
- Fastball Velocity
- Players Returning From Injury
All else being equal, you're going to want to target guys who miss bats and don't miss the strike zone, but due to factors outside of their control (think defense, and more specifically, BABIP), have a higher than expected ERA. This is by no means foolproof (see Ricky Nolasco recently), but it's a good place to start digging. FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a metric that incorporates strikeouts, walks, and home runs while stripping out the randomness of balls in play. Taking guys with ERAs significantly higher than their FIP