Regression Candidates: Carlos Carrasco, Tony Gonsolin, Triston McKenzie (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
Welcome to another edition of “Positive & Negative Regression,” where we dig into some analytics each week to identify two players due to heat up and two likely to cool down.
When trying to identify regression candidates among pitchers, two simple but effective stats to use are FIP and BABIP. By comparing a pitcher’s FIP to his ERA and his BABIP to the BABIP average, you can quickly ascertain how much good or bad fortune the hurler has received.
One way to use these metrics is to combine them with a simple formula: ERA/FIP + BABIP/BABIP AVG. This formula takes the relative variance of both for a quick-n-dirty analysis.
We put this formula to the test on starters with at least 50 innings pitched this season. The average BABIP for the pitchers who qualified was .283. Below are a few players who stood out as candidates for regression to the positive or negative. If you are unclear on any of the statistics mentioned, please refer to the FantasyPros Sabermetrics Glossary. Also, please note that all the stats below are through Saturday, June 11.
Positive Regression Candidates
The starters with the highest ERA/FIP + BABIP/BABIP AVG were Kevin Gausman, Patrick Corbin, Austin Gomber, and Carlos Carrasco. Although Corbin and Gomber are excellent positive regression candidates, we decided not to focus on them, as even with regression, they appear pretty mediocre for fantasy baseball purposes.
Kevin Gausman (SP – TOR)
It’s truly amazing to see Gausman top this list considering how good he’s been this season. Typically a player in this category has struggled, but not Gausman. This is great news for those with him on their roster, making him an excellent trade target. Below are his season-to-date stats:
Not bad for a guy who’s been unlucky! One factor that appears to be contributing to Gausman’s success is that he’s getting ahead of hitters. Nearly 70% of the time, he records strike one, which would be a career-high for him if he keeps it up. Perhaps, as a result, hitters are chasing more often as his O-Swing% is 11% higher than last season at 46.5%. Getting ahead is also helping his BB/9, which is at a microscopic 1.27. It’s a small sample size, but Gausman is becoming a better pitcher.
Not all Gausman’s stats indicate positive regression. For example, his xERA is 3.03, and his xFIP is 2.82. However, all indications are that he should continue to be successful. Thus, he’s one to hold onto if you already have him on your roster and one to target if you don’t.
Carlos Carrasco (SP – NYM)
Carrasco’s been a bit underappreciated by the fantasy community this season. His Ownership% is still in the low 80% range on Yahoo and ESPN despite ranking as one of the top 30 starters this year. Likely his recent injury history has some fantasy managers scared, but he’s stayed healthy. Let’s take a look at his YTD stats:
Carrasco’s ERA is a tad high, and his K/9 is average, but he has a solid WHIP, and his seven wins are tied for the league lead. The large gap between his ERA and FIP and elevated BABIP are good indications that his ERA will start to lower. The other ERA Estimators also support this, as his xERA, xFIP, and SIERA range between 3.28 and 3.38.
Get him if you are in one of the 15-20% of leagues where Carrasco is available! Sure he may get hurt, but there’s not much to lose with a waiver add. He’s also a viable trade target; however, you should carefully weigh the injury risk before pulling the trigger on a deal.
Negative Regression Candidates
Gonsolin has pitched like a fantasy ace this season. You have been handsomely rewarded if you grabbed him off the waiver wire early on. It probably won’t last, though, at least not to the same extent. His FIP and BABIP paint a slightly different picture:
A 3.21 FIP is still pretty good, and Gonsolin’s other ERA Estimators also reflect an above-average pitcher. His strand rate of 88% is not sustainable, and he isn’t blowing away hitters with an 88% Z-Contact%. Gonsolin has induced a lot of ground balls this year (45.5%); thus, the low BABIP has dramatically aided his cause.
The advice on Gonsolin is to sell high if you can. No worries if you can’t, though. You still have a solid back-end fantasy starter, which you likely got either at the end of your draft or off waivers.
McKenzie has been inconsistent in his short MLB career. This season he’s been very effective overall. However, there is some cause for concern based on some of his underlying stats:
His FIP and BABIP are obvious places to start and indicate negative regression is likely. His 25% CSW%, which we discussed a few weeks ago, is also on the low side, suggesting he’s out-pitching his peripherals. On the plus side, McKenzie is walking far fewer batters than last season, which is helping his WHIP. Unfortunately, he is also generating fewer strikeouts.
So what do we make of McKenzie? The guess here is that he’ll get the K-rate up some but that he’s more likely to end up with an ERA closer to 4.00 than 3.00. That makes him a sell-high candidate if you can find a taker. If not, keep an eye on him and hope he can continue to defy the odds.
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