Using Basic MLB Pitching Stats

fd-101-300x300Welcome to FantasyDraft 101, the only series designed to teach you how to play daily fantasy sports and win on The articles are designed to teach the basics step-by-step in order to educate beginning players and assist them in becoming the best competitor they can be. With little-to-no prior knowledge on the topic, these are the fundamentals to setting competitive daily fantasy baseball lineups.

Understanding Basic Baseball Pitching Statistics

Understanding which pitchers to use on a nightly basis is based on statistics. Comprehension of the pitching aspect of daily fantasy baseball starts with a basic knowledge of how statistics play their part in helping determine the outcome for any given start. Now, before we get to the actual statistics, please promise one thing; you will never use a relief pitcher. They are always available on FantasyDraft, but whether or not they will ever be used is pretty much unpredictable. The statistics we will be focusing on are only applicable to the given day’s probable starting pitching. If you ever need assistance in finding a site that shows probable pitchers, just ask me and I will be happy to help. Now onto learning the three major statistics and how they work/are applied.

Earned Run Average (ERA), Walks and Hits Per Innings Pitched (WHIP) and Strikeouts Per Nine Innings (K/9)

Earned run average (ERA) is defined as the total number of earned runs a given pitcher allows per nine innings. It is designed to give an indication of a pitcher’s skills at keeping the opposing team off of the scoreboard.  It is calculated by the formula 9 x (earned runs/innings pitched). Nine is used as the multiplier because that is how many innings there are in a major league baseball game. Runs resulting from defensive errors are not included in earned runs and therefore do not count towards determining ERA. The lower the number, the better for pitchers, as that means they allow less earned runs on average per game. Determining the league average is difficult because baseball is divided into two leagues: the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). Typically pitchers pitching in the AL have a mean ERA of about 0.5 runs higher because they face a designated hitter (DH) instead of a pitcher. As a general guide, 3.25 to 3.75 is about league average regardless of league with under-3.00 considered great.

Walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) is calculated by taking the cumulative number of walks and hits divided by the total number of innings pitched (IP). When looking on sites for statistics, one-third of an inning will be represented by 0.1.

Example: Jon Lester pitched seven and one-third innings on Friday. It will appear as 7.1 IP. If you want to calculate WHIP, you will need to use 7.333 (the real fraction for one-third) instead of 7.1 to end with the correct number.

ERA by itself is not a great judge of a pitcher. A pitcher can pitch six innings and give up three solo home runs, but allow zero other base-runners and ERA alone would suggest it was a sub-par outing. WHIP measures a pitcher’s propensity for runners to reach base and is a complementary statistic to ERA to evaluate a pitcher’s performance. Like ERA, the lower the number the better. 1.30 to 1.35 is about league-average, while anything under 1.10 is considered elite.

Strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) is a statistic that shows the average number of batters a pitcher strikes out per nine innings. The calculation is similar to ERA: 9 x (strikeouts/innings pitched). Using the innings pitched calculations are the same as shown above where 7.1 IP equals 7.33 IP in an equation. Strikeouts are an important category in daily fantasy baseball, because a player can have a mediocre outing that can be turned into a great one if they rack up strikeouts. The higher the K/9, the more likely a player is to strikeout batters in an efficient manner. 6.8 to 7.2 is considered league-average while K/9’s over 9.0 are considered elite.

Applying These Statistics to Daily Fantasy Baseball

Now the question becomes “how are these statistics useful?” Well, if ERA measures the rate at which a pitcher allows earned runs, WHIP measures how often a player allows either a walk or a hit (hits batsman do not count) on average, and K/9 measures a player’s propensity for strikeouts, then that gives you an idea of how likely those outcomes truly are. FantasyDraft’s daily fantasy baseball scoring system rewards these results as follows:


The application here is a little more difficult than hitting. Typically, a low ERA signifies that a pitcher will allow less earned runs over an extended sample size, which is definitely a good thing. The same goes for WHIP and allowing a low amount of walks and hits. K/9 is where it gets a little difficult. While strikeouts are very important for daily fantasy baseball, they can also hurt a pitcher’s chances at a complete game. Striking a batter out, at the very least, takes three pitches. If a pitcher strikes out a lot of hitters, it likely means they have made a lot of pitches. Managers typically pull a pitcher around 100 total pitches, so it limits his complete game upside. With that being said, strikeouts are still a good thing and they raise a player’s projected fantasy-point floor on a given night. You would still rather roster a strikeout pitcher, because 4 IP, 7 K (23) is more fantasy points than 7 IP, 3 K (21.75).



If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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