When looking at seasonal splits, you can’t go by surface stats. WHIP fluctuates for many reasons, and ERA is affected by even more factors. When you’re looking at second-half risers or faders, you need to look at players’ own histories (if they aren’t rookies), the common luck factors (BABIP, LOB%), and especially changes in skill values (K/9, BB/9). With that said, here’s a look at some pitchers who had decent variances in their surface stats from one half to the next.
Bailey had a solid year. He was pretty good in the first half, but he looked even better in the second half in ERA and WHIP. So why the change? As it turns out, Bailey’s skills were better in the first half, with better K/9, BB/9, and GB%. In the second half he faded just a bit, but his ERA improved by 0.77. This is primarily due to his luckier BABIP and LOB%. What’s nice is that even that lower second-half K/9 was better than the last two seasons. There’s a chance he could take another step forward in 2014 if he maintains his K/9 gains and is at least average in the luck factors.
I’m not making any secret about my man-crush for Corbin. He had a stellar first half in terms of ERA and WHIP, and at first glance it looks like he fell apart in the second half. However, he was extremely lucky in BABIP and LOB% in the first half, and in the second half the tides turned toward unlucky. What bodes well for the future is his maintaining his solid BB/9 from 2012 and the first half, as well as his decent groundball rate of 47%. The reason I’m excited for 2014 is his huge jump in K/9 from 7.2 in 2012, to 7.0 in the first half of 2013, to 8.5 in the second half. His swinging strike rate also improved. He threw his slider more in 2013 than 2012, and he’s getting more batters to swing out of the zone as well. With stable luck factors, I expect final stats even better than his 2013 line.
Iwakuma’s 2013 season seemingly came out of nowhere. A lot of people aren’t betting on him to repeat, of course, and he’s not that young, so there’s a chance you can grab him at a reasonable price. His first-half WHIP was an insane 0.88, and the rise in the second half to (a still solid) 1.15 may show he was fading. However, the only major chance was in BABIP, which was very lucky in the first and more normal in the second. That’s something to consider: He had a BABIP near league-average in the second half, yet he still managed a 1.15 WHIP! This is due to the fact that he doesn’t walk batters: a 1.3 BB/9 in the first half rose to 2.2 in the second half, but it’s still far better than most SP. He lost a little on his strikeout rate as well, but it’s still very solid when combined with a great walk rate. I really like the fact that his groundball rate in the second half returned to 52%, which is what he had in 2012. Look at his second half in 2013, note that there isn’t much of a positive luck factor there, and realize that he could easily repeat that half for a full season. Buy now.
I looked at just three pitchers here, and if you’d like to see a specific player analyzed for the next article, leave a comment. I’ll also look at players who show red flags for 2014.