The best analytical seasons by Royals pitching prospects in 2018

Drake asked me a good question last night. “Which Royals pitchers have the best aggregate score for advanced analytics?” I was watching the Eagles vs. Falcons game, had nothing better to do, and decided to take a looksy.

Here’s how I ran the study. I downloaded the advanced metrics for every single Royals pitcher that threw at least 40 innings at one level in 2018. So Daniel Lynch’s brief existence in rookie ball didn’t count. Andres Sotillet appeared twice because he threw 40+ innings at two levels of A-ball. Get the idea?

Here are the stats that I included in the study:

  • K/BB (strikeout to walk ratio)
  • HR/9 (home runs allowed per 9 innings pitched)
  • K% (percent of batters faced that ended in a strikeout)
  • BB% (percent of batters faced that ended with a walk)
  • FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching)
  • xFIP (expected Fielding Independent Pitching)
  • SwStr% (Swinging Strike percentage)
  • GB% (Ground Ball percentage)

Strikeouts are important. Not walking people is important. Keeping the ball in the yard is important. Keeping the ball on the ground keeps the ball in the yard. So there ya go.

I gave each of those statistics a certain weight. I valued the importance of each statistic and correlated their relationship with FIP to determine an appropriate weight. Then I gave each pitcher a score based on their results (with the exception of SwStr% because it gets really wonky in the lower minors so I added in some room for error there). Here are the top 7 scores from the Royals minor league system in 2018:

  1. Daniel Lynch (A – Lexington): 4.91
  2. Heribert Garcia (R – DSL Royals): 3.20
  3. Holden Capps (A – Lexington): 3.06
  4. Marcelo Martinez (R – Burlington): 2.66
  5. Andres Sotillet (A – Lexington): 2.34
  6. Jake Kalish (AAA – Omaha): 1.88
  7. Tad Ratliff (A – Lexington): 1.80

The cool thing about this is that I goofed up at first. I ran the study, started typing up my results, and lost the Excel sheet that I did the study in. When I went back and redid it all, the numbers matched up perfectly from round one, so hopefully we have some stability here.

Thoughts:

  • Hello, Daniel Lynch. Lynch absolutely dominated the South Atlantic League after being drafted and almost certainly would’ve been promoted to Wilmington had Lexington not been in a playoff race. If this was 2019, for example, and Nick Pratto/MJ Melendez/Brewer Hicklen were all in Wilmington, Daniel Lynch would’ve been there too. He’s simply too good for this level. He starts against Rome in the playoffs tonight.
  • Heribert Garcia, an 18-year old from Venezuela, went all Delvin Capellan on the DSL this summer. He posted an ERA of 0.94 and struck out 44 in 47.2 IP while walking only 7. That’ll play. I assume he’ll take Capellan’s path to the AZL next summer, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
  • I’m a fan of Andres Sotillet. He needs some added velocity in order to make me more comfortable, but I think he’s a little underrated in this system.
  • Lexington has a really good bullpen. Tad Ratliff, Holden Capps, Danny Hrbek, among others have anchored down the later innings for the Legends amidst their second half playoff run. Bullpens have been a Dayton Moore special and that starts in the lower minors.

So there ya go. I probably had more fun writing all that than you did reading it, but if you’re a stat junky like me, this can be fun. It’s easy to just lineup ERA’s, but ERA hardly tells the story of a pitching prospect’s season. These advanced metrics do a much better job of helping us find talent in the lower minors, and although one or two of these guys are too old for their league, results are results.

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