Well, another year is in the books. We at Pitcher List cannot wait to unveil all our 2020 plans and bring you our 5.0 version of the site, but before we do that, we’d like to take a moment to review the incredible things the staff did this year. Our awesome staff of roughly 150 writers published over 2,600 articles this year, ranging from the daily articles—SP Roundups, Batter’s Boxes, and Nastiest Pitches—to the Going Deeps that won many people their seasons. At this time, we’d like to celebrate the best articles of the year from our staff. To do so, I asked the Pitcher List staff to submit the best articles of 2019 and we received a whopping 18 nominations. Each of these articles is deserving of major recognition and praise and choosing the best was not an easy endeavor, so I chose a top five for you all. Here’s a list of all the nominations I received, and we’ll start with the honorable mentions.
Going Deep: The Trouble with F-Strike by Alex Fast
Chances are we’ve all spent many hours on Fangraphs, including a bunch of time on the plate discipline section trying to understand as much as possible from a small group of percentages. Among the most confounding has always been F-Strike: How do we interpret it? Alex Fast took a deep dive into the statistic to show that it means even less than we thought, but that the foundation is there for a more helpful analysis through a stat that Alex and Nick Pollack derived last season.
Deep dives into baseball savant often end up fruitless, but Nick Gerli may have struck a gold mine earlier in 2019 by determining that we can forecast pitcher success by looking at how often they’re able to get to two strikes on a hitter. An intriguing read to say the least.
For the regular followers of the site, you know there is no greater labor of love than Nick Pollack’s The List. Each week, he ranks the Top 100 starters for the rest of the season. But each one is, in essence, the same as the others, just updated with more information that Nick has gathered. However, once a year, Nick publishes the holy grail of Lists: his ROS schedule list. This list breaks down every scheduled start that each pitcher has for the rest of the season, giving you all the tools you need to know whether to sit or start down the stretch.
Going Deep: The Point of Joe Return by Shelly Verougstraete
We at Pitcher List are blessed to work with some very talented writers; earlier this year, we were lucky enough to add Rotographs and Prospects 365 writer Shelly Verougstraete who has done some incredible work for us thus far. Among her work was this deep dive on Joe Musgrove that helped some fantasy owners add a sturdy arm down the stretch.
In today’s game, data and analytics are at the forefront. Here at Pitcher List, we’re known as some of the elite analysts at interpreting sites such as Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball, and Fangraphs. Anyone can learn how to interpret those sites, but it takes a skilled eye to break down the visuals, because the minor mechanical errors in a hitter’s swing won’t show up on Baseball Savant. Here, Kyle Horton is able to break down the changes in Bryce Harper’s swing throughout 2019 as he battled slumps in his first season in Philadelphia.
PL Video Game Tournament Final 4: Baseball Stars vs. MVP Baseball 2005 by Justin Paradis
No, Justin didn’t write this entire article, as Alex Kleinman wrote for MVP Baseball 2005. I’ll say this though: If you read every article that Pitcher List has written the past year, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more heart-warming and honest expression of love for baseball than Justin’s write up on Baseball Stars. His passage brought back memories of gaming as a kid; for anyone who loves baseball and/or video games, this is an absolute must-read.
One of the greatest transformations in the site over 2019 was the growth in our Going Deep department, and Michael Ajeto has been one of the stars. Hopefully you had a chance to read his article in June, which broke down Lance Lynn’s change in pitch mix and improvements with respect to pitch tunneling, and managed to snatch Lance Lynn before your leaguemates. His recent article on Dylan Bundy, demonstrating his eerie similarity to Patrick Corbin, is something I’m hoping to keep hidden from my leaguemates before 2020 drafts.
I swear I did not nominate myself. In this article, I took a deep dive into Terry Collins’ and Noah Syndergaard’s ejections a few years back in a game against the Dodgers. I’ve been an umpire since I was 13 and I am often frustrated at how little of that side of the game most fans understand.
CSW Rate: An Introduction to an Important New Metric by Alex Fast
Followers of the site are already all too familiar with CSW%: (called strikes + whiffs)/total pitches. This metric helps identify strong and weak starts beyond the box score. Its uses have increased significantly since Nick and Alex derived the stat back in 2018.
Much like Ken Rosenthal passing the Astros sign-stealing story into Jomboy’s hands, so did Alex Fast pass CSW into the hands of Colin Charles. Somehow, we did not think that CSW should be calculated on a team level and used to help evaluate the strength of matchups. Colin did some incredible data analytics work here that really furthered our knowledge of CSW as a whole.
This was Shelly’s debut article at the site, and in it she helped us understand Giolito’s hot start to 2019. She highlighted his improved pitch location leading to better swing and miss rates on top of his improved consistency that turned him into an ace.
The Best of the Best
And now, we count down the top five articles from 2019:
In April, I mentioned on our internal staff server that someone should do a Going Deep on Christian Yelich and a newbie named Michael Ajeto stepped up. Admittedly, I was nervous that he wasn’t up to the task. What resulted was over 2800 words of pure gold showing exactly how Christian Yelich became the consensus top-three pick as he enters 2020. Even though we already know what Christian Yelich is now (Michael was right, he is indeed “bananas”), this really is a must-read because it is perhaps the finest Going Deep piece Pitcher List has produced.
#4: Going Deep: Introducing pHR by Dan Richards
Dan and I met a few years ago before he started working for Pitcher List, and it’s been incredible to watch his talent grow over time to the point where he wrote one of the best fantasy articles of the year. Through some impressive utilization of Baseball Savant, he gave us something we as a fantasy community have been missing since Andrew Perpetua left xStats.org to join the Mets: a reliable HR predictor based on batted ball metrics. I highly recommend his Park Factors piece as well.
#3: Mindfulness in Baseball is Not What You Think by Tim Jackson
Nick Pollack has a term called “Alex Think Fast” that encompasses whenever anyone discusses the mental aspect of baseball. Despite this, we never seem to discuss it enough. Baseball players are not just a collection of attributes and statistics, they’re real people; in this piece, Tim Jackson goes in-depth on the ways teams have addressed the stress that players go through their day-to-day lives with. It’s a refreshing look at baseball through a human lens and one of the few pieces we write that transcends time. Part 1 is linked in the title above, and you can find Part 2 here.
This time last year, we decided to create Anti-List, our entertainment section. Dave Fisher christened it with one of the funniest articles I have ever read; it was so ridiculously humorous that it was not only the only Anti-List piece to get nominated, but also I felt it HAD to make the top five. Also to answer his question—yes, yes they should.
#1: Going Deep: We’re Drafting Saves Wrong by Alex Fast
This was an incredibly difficult decision. We had so many incredible pieces this year by so many talented authors, but ultimately, I kept coming back to this one. I think it’s because of its implications; reading this article has completely changed the way that our readers approach drafts, as it should. Alex fell down the rabbit hole, looking at how each team deploys relievers to show that we are all looking at the Saves category incorrectly. Read this piece. Study it. Commit it to memory. Use it to beat your leaguemates who still live in the past.
This was an incredibly difficult endeavor; choosing the best from among over 2,600 articles is no easy task. I’d also like to stress that while the staff submitted their recommendations, these rankings are purely my opinion. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Was your favorite article not mentioned? Let us know what your favorites of 2019 were.
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