Fantasy Baseball Spring Training Stats Trends: Strikeout Leaders

CJ Wilson
CJ Wilson
CJ Wilsons strikeout face Mark J Rebilas USA TODAY Sports

Strikeouts are the pitching equivalent of RBIs and runs. Combined. No one wants the guy who has a 3.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP if they strike out four batters per nine innings. It’s like getting a .290 hitter who never produces runs and doesn’t steal bases.

If you’re hungry for strikeouts in your draft or on the waiver wire, one place to start looking is how certain pitchers have started off in spring training. Spring training stats certainly can’t predict regular season success but a pitcher can use a stellar March as a springboard for a breakout season. Let’s take a look at the spring strikeout leaders and what we can expect from them in 2014.

C.J. Wilson (28 strikeouts): Wilson improved significantly in his second year with the Angels, winning 17 games and posting a 3.39 ERA and 8.0 strikeouts per nine innings. That’s right around his career average, regardless of what his 11.6 K/9 this spring may suggest. A player as consistent as C.J. should be fully expected to see about 180 strikeouts this season.

Lance Lynn (27): The young Cardinals pitcher is 33-17 over his first two full seasons in the league but his 3.88 ERA and 1.32 WHIP could certainly stand to come down. His 6.35 ERA and 1.41 WHIP this spring isn’t a positive sign that it will but his 15.1 K/9 suggests another strong year of strikeouts. Don’t expect 15 per nine but he could certainly strike out 200 batters this year if he can stay healthy.

Max Scherzer (24): Scherzer has now struck out 471 batters over the last two seasons and has picked up where he left off, striking out 10.8 per nine innings this spring. He has struck out 10.1-11.1 batters per nine over the last two seasons and should certainly eclipse 220 strikeouts in 2014 as long as he stays healthy.

James Shields (24): Shields’ strikeout rate dropped from 8.8 in 2012 to 7.7 in 2013. That’s about where he should be, and 7.7 is actually his career average. Assuming another similar campaign, Shields is a lock for 190+ strikeouts this season.

Franklin Morales (23): Morales has given himself a great chance to win a rotation spot with the Rockies this spring, posting a 2.21 ERA and 1.03 WHIP through 20.1 spring innings. His 10.2 K/9 is strong and a positive sign since the starter/reliever has posted an 8.6 K/9 since 2009. If he can prove to be a legitimate starter for the Rockies, he could be a sleeper with 175 strikeout potential.

Esmil Rogers (22): Another starter/reliever blend, Rogers has posted 11.9 K/9 in 13.2 innings this spring, a far cry from his 6.3 strikeouts per nine during the 2013 season. His 7.5 career K/9 is ultimately irrelevant since his 5.52 career ERA (4.77 last season) and 1.58 career WHIP (1.42 last season) make him entirely unownable in fantasy.

Ivan Nova (21): Nova bounced back from a rough 2012 (5.02 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) with a strong 3.10 ERA and 1.29 WHIP last year. Through spring, he has posted 9.6 K/9, significantly higher than the 7.5 we saw last season. Nova should fall in the 7.5 to 8.0 strikeouts per nine range which means a 170+ inning season should yield 140-150+ strikeouts.

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Igor Derysh
Igor Derysh is Editor-at-Large at XN Sports and has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and FantasyPros. He has previously covered sports for COED Magazine, Fantasy Alarm, and