Last year, our Pitcher List colleague Myles Nelson introduced the Worstball format as a way to give us another way to consume and enjoy fantasy baseball. The basis is straightforward – the worse that your player does in real life, the better your Worstball fantasy team will do! We’ll deep dive in to go over everything you need to know for drafting and managing your pitchers in this format. Everyone has experienced frustration at one point or another when they have three starters going in one day, only to find out that they might’ve been better off not starting any of them based on none of them even getting a quality start. This negative format is for these days, where it’s more than ok for your pitcher to get blown up. This is Worstball!
Explanation of Pitcher Scoring
To say that the roster construction is different in Worstball would be an understatement. Instead of separating your pitching staff by starters and relievers link in a standard format, here we will defy logistical thought and let each manager’s imagination run wild. Six spots, all with a generic pitcher (P) delegation. You can do with that as you wish. In the inaugural season, closers were rendered a little bit useless, but we are working on some tweaks to make sure that we can incorporate more of a mix going forward.
The scoring uses some stats that you may not be used to tracking for fantasy baseball, so bear with me. 1 point for each pitching appearance; your pitcher makes it into the game, you get some points (very useful for those random starters getting knocked around in relief work)! 2 points are awarded for hits (H), walks (BB) and inherited runners scored (IRA). 3 points for wild pitches (WP), hit batters (HBP) and earned runs (ER). 4 points for home runs allowed (HR). A big fat 10-spot is given out for each balk (BLK) that is called & each blown save (BS) you have.
Now we move to the stats that negatively affect your score. -2 points for each inning pitched (IP), a strikeout (K) and each saves + hold (SV+H). You’ll lose the most amount of points when a pitcher earns a win (W) by subtracting 5 points from the ledger. The games that score the highest are this masterpiece from May 31st of 2019; I call this the Holy Grail of Worstball pitching performances.
Top 10 Pitchers (2019 Season)
Here we can take a look to see what our top pitchers had in common & some interesting stats that will make you wonder who the next stud Worstball pitcher will be:
|Player Name||Overall Rank|
|Glenn Sparkman – KC||#1|
|Yusei Kikuchi – SEA||#2|
|Antonio Senzatela – COL||#3|
|Ivan Nova – CWS||#4|
|Edwin Jackson – TOR||#5|
|Reynaldo Lopez – CWS||#6|
|Jorge Lopez – KC||#8|
|Aaron Sanchez – TOR/HOU||#9|
|Jordan Zimmermann – DET||#10|
|Kyle Freeland – COL||#16|
Glenn Sparkman was one of the hidden gems of last season in fantasy baseball. Shooting up the rankings from around the midway point of the year, Sparkman delivered Worstball excellence as routinely as the United States Postal Service. It was only a mere eight months ago that our very own Nick Pollack wrote a glowing review of Sparkman’s only sparkle from 2019, even finding himself atop the Gallows poll that day! While lacking electrical conduction for the rest of the year for Kansas City, there were Worstball points galore. From June 15th through September 21 (a sample of 18 starts at ~ 5 innings/start), he posted a FIP lower than 4.64 just twice and K totals over 5 just once. Consistently terrible results for a team like the Royals that needed someone to log innings in a lost season.
The rest of the list is littered with a mix of younger pitchers with little pedigree, older vets trying to hold on to the last strings of their careers (Edwin Jackson & Jordan Zimmermann), or mid-career road bumps for the likes of Kyle Freeland or Aaron Sanchez. One thing is common between all of these pitchers: teams need to get through 162 games of the regular season whether they are contending or not. Someone needs to pitch all of those innings for better or for worse, and they might not yield the best results.
When to Draft Pitchers
As you’ve seen previously, pitchers made up the top six spots in overall rank for 2019. The preliminary results are in as this season’s draft has already seen nine of the first 24 picks be starting pitchers. You’ll need to lock in your guaranteed innings early if you want to have a chance to compete in the weekly format of Worstball. Two-start weeks last year for Edwin Jackson gave off a similar euphoric sensation that you get when you see Max Scherzer is tabbed to face the Marlins and the Mets in the same week. After the top 10-15 known commodities for pitchers come off the board, you’ll want to rely on your research of what each organization expects from their potential 4th or 5th starter, or even 3rd starter if you’re the Orioles (sorry Alex Fast).
So there you have it, a quick reference guide to trying out a completely new fantasy baseball format that brought to light very interesting strategies and thought processes from 12 managers last year. We will continue to monitor and fill you in on the progress that these leagues make as the season moves along. Good luck in your drafts, and may the worst team win!