Once the season is a couple of weeks old, something you can count on from me every Monday morning a Dixon’s Picks list of 3-5 starting pitcher’s who meet two requirements.
- They’re probably on your waiver wire.
- They’re probably good streaming pickups for that week.
I know from reader comments and past playing that streaming pitchers is a bit of a controversial issue. It’s not something everyone uses and many who don’t use it don’t have a lot of respect for those who do.
We all use it to somewhat varying degrees. None of us go nuts streaming, as that’s really not something you can do unless it’s the end of a head-to-head matchup and categories like ERA and WHIP are decided.
The risks are obvious. When you’re dealing with pitchers on the waiver wire and the season is more than about a month old, they’re probably there for a reason: they’re not very good.
There ways you can combat that, though, although nothing is flawless. There are two things you want to know.
- Who are they facing?
- Where are they facing them?
My goal here was to create something of a cheat sheet for the upcoming season, at least the early part of it. When you’re choosing a pitcher, you want to know how dangerous the lineup he’s facing is.
Nothing is more important than runs allowed. So, courtesy of Baseball-Reference, let’s take a look at how teams scored last year.
|2.||New York Yankees||4.96|
|4.||Los Angeles Angels||4.73|
|5.||St. Louis Cardinals||4.72|
|7.||Chicago White Sox||4.62|
|T8.||Boston Red Sox||4.53|
|12.||San Francisco Giants||4.43|
|13.||Toronto Blue Jays||4.42|
|18.||Tampa Bay Rays||4.30|
|20.||Kansas City Royals||4.17|
|T23.||San Diego Padres||4.02|
|25.||New York Mets||4.01|
|26.||Los Angeles Dodgers||3.93|
A few that should change in 2013:
- The Marlins are in for a huge regression, which says a lot considering they were second-to-last in runs scored last year. Since last July, they’ve dealt Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez, Omar Infante, Jose Reyes, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio, and Yunel Escobar. Logan Morrison may well be on the move before Opening Day. That of course leaves Giancarlo Stanton, who will be hitting a lot of very impressive solo home runs in 2013. When you consider the pitchers they’ll have to face in the NL East, this should not only lowest-scoring team in the league next season, but will probably have that by quite some margin.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers shouldn’t be that bad at scoring runs again. They still don’t have a lot of lineup depth at Chavez Ravine, but a lineup with Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford should scrape runs across the plate at a decent rate.
- It’s hard to imagine the Blue Jays being a middle-of-the-pack team. Of the players named above, Bonifacio, Buck, and Reyes all now call Toronto home. Throw them into the mix with the newly-signed Melky Cabrera, returning masher Edwin Encarnacion, and a healthy Jose Bautista, this team will score runs.
Obviously if a team’s scoring runs, they’re not good to stream against. Conversely, if they’re not scoring runs, it’s a pretty good bet. As a general rule, I’d say to avoid teams in the Top-10 in runs scored, and feel pretty good about teams in the Bottom-10. Sure, there are exceptions to make once the season begins, but that’s a general guideline to follow.
But what about those teams ranked 11-20. That’s where you have to know where they’re playing. Baseball-Reference has a way of grading parks which I really don’t want to get into here. If you’re interested, I would encourage you to read their formula.
The only thing we need to go over here is that when giving a stadium a grade for pitching, if it’s under 100, it’s considered pitcher-friendly. If it’s over 100, it’s not so pitcher-friendly. So, let’s see how the 30 parks graded not only in 2012, but over their whole existence
|Stadium/Home Team||2012 Grade||Multi-Year Grade
|AT&T Park/San Francisco Giants||87||88|
|Safeco Field/Seattle Mariners||88||91|
|PNC Park/Pittsburgh Pirates||90||94|
|Angel Stadium of Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||91||92|
|Petco Park/San Diego Padres||93||92|
|Progressive Field/Cleveland Indians||93||95|
|Tropicana Field/Tampa Bay Rays||94||93|
|Dodger Stadium/Los Angeles Dodgers||94||96|
|The Coliseum/Oakland Athletics||96||97|
|Citi Field/New York Mets||96||97|
|Yankee Stadium/New York Yankees||98||102|
|Minute Maid Park/Houston Astros||99||101|
|Busch Stadium/St. Louis Cardinals||100||97|
|Marlins Park/Miami Marlins||100||100|
|Kauffman Stadium/Kansas City Royals||100||100|
|Nationals Park/Washington Nationals||100||100|
|Citizen’s Bank Park/Philadelphia Phillies||100||101|
|Target Field/Minnesota Twins||101||99|
|Wrigley Field/Chicago Cubs||102||99|
|Miller Park/Milwaukee Brewers||103||104|
|Turner Field/Atlanta Braves||104||101|
|Comerica Park/Detroit Tigers||104||103|
|Rogers Centre/Toronto Blue Jays||104||104|
|Chase Field/Arizona Diamondbacks||104||105|
|Rangers Ballpark in Arlington/Texas Rangers||106||111|
|Fenway Park/Boston Red Sox||107||106|
|Great American Ballpark/Cincinnati Reds||107||107|
|Oriole Park at Camden Yards/Baltimore Orioles||109||103|
|US Cellular Field/Chicago White Sox||113||106|
|Coors Field/Colorado Rockies||125||121|
Again, let’s take a look at a few things.
- Don’t ever stream a pitcher pitching in Coors Field. The ball not only carries extremely well there, but the deep gaps also cause the outfielders to play so far back that cheap singles fall in frequently and with fast runners, they turn into doubles. There is no stadium in the league like it. I love the park personally, but I think about benching my aces when they’re pitching in Colorado. I would never consider bringing in a waiver wire guy.
- The Giants have won two of the last three World Series’, but their yard is very pitcher-friendly. I might show a little bit of restraint streaming against them, but not a lot. Their 2012 offense was basically middle-of-the road and their park is just geared to the pitcher.
- Despite having pretty good reputations as hitter’s parks, neither Yankee Stadium or Minute Maid Park grade that bad. I must admit, this came as a shock to me. Part of Minute Maid’s grade is that the Astros have been a train-wreck for several years, but the Yankees are generally about as potent as any lineup in baseball. A 102 over the years is actually not bad and a 98 in 2012 was downright shocking.
So, what does this information do for you?
Today, nothing. As the 2013 season gets going, you’ll be able to track how well teams are scoring runs. Knowing the 2012 runs scored will help you more in the early going.
But if you take anything from this, make it how the parks all grade out. I had perceptions about a few of them that don’t quite match the reality of them.