These pitchers compared favorably to the former group that received so many accolades, hinting at potentially bad luck in 2017 but perhaps greater things in store for 2018.
My Kings of Command are listed in alphabetical order, along with their 2017 Player Rater finishes and fantasy point totals (using ESPN’s standard scoring system), as well as a brief synopsis of what they’d need to do to break through this season. In addition, pitchers who met the column’s former criteria are denoted with an asterisk (*).
A Rockies pitcher? Really?! Believe it, as Anderson cracked the top 100 fantasy starters despite making only 19 starts in 2016, then followed it up with a 2017 season during which he boosted his swinging-strike rate from 11.4 to 12.5 percent, first-pitch strike rate from 64.0 to 65.0 percent and had as many performances of at least a 60 Bill James Game Score (5) despite making four less starts. Yet he somehow managed to see his ERA climb by more than a run and a quarter and his fantasy value plummet significantly. Persistent knee inflammation that cost him a pair of DL stints might’ve contributed, but his xFIP tells quite a story: He had a 3.64 mark in 2016 and 3.95 in 2017.
The Blackhawks’ throw everything at the wall and see what sticks strategy to building their defense really hasn’t panned out.
Using Colon as a comparison point is probably not flattering to Wacha, and it’s also an entirely unfair one, as Wacha’s numbers in these command categories during that four-year span are much closer to Gio Gonzalez’s (from that group) than Colon’s — and in fact, they’re all better than Gonzalez’s, and were considerably so in 2017 alone. Yet we all surely think more of Gonzalez in fantasy terms.
Better health, for one, as he missed significant chunks of the 2014 and 2016 seasons to shoulder issues, but a return of the plus changeup he flashed in his first two years would also help. Per FanGraphs, it was worth 7.2 runs above average from 2013 to 2014, but minus-1.9 in the past three seasons combined.