Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Last season Madison Bumgarner saw his FIP rise almost a whole run from 2.67 to 3.50 despite just small changes in his strikeout, walk, and ground ball rates. It was his HR/FB rate that went up, jumping to 11.7% from 6.2% in 2011.The Giants play in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in baseball, but 6.7% is a little too low. Conversely, 11.7% is a little on the high side given AT&T Park’s dimensions. Over the last three years, Giants’ pitchers have averaged an 8.3% HR/FB rate, the lowest in the league. Because that figure includes all Giants pitchers over such a large sample size, it gives us a good idea of what a “normal” HR/FB rate is for a San Francisco pitcher. It takes into account the team playing half of their games in that stadium and half in other stadiums.Bumgarner’s innings total falls a little short of what I’d like out of an ace starter, but it’s tough to complain about 210 innings as great as what Bumgarner can deliver. Yahoo! has him ranked as the 11th-best starting pitcher this year. Last year he finished the season ranked 14th. If he can approach 220+ innings, we’ll begin to see Bumgarner entrench himself as a fantasy ace.At a GlanceStrengths: W, K, K/9, ERA, WHIP, QSNeutral: LWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Felix Hernandez (SEA)Likely scenario: Zack Greinke (LAD), Adam Wainwright (STL), Chris Sale (CHW)Worst-case scenario: Doug Fister (DET) w/ a little better K rateMadison Bumgarner 2013 Fantasy ProjectionI haven’t owned Bumgarner before, but from following his starts I get the feeling that he’s either very good or sort of bad. I remember a couple implosions along the road yet far more dazzling showings. That kind of up-and-down play lends itself to a lot of decisions, and that’s why Bumgarner has racked up the losses over the last two years despite great overall numbers. I don’t see any reason to expect anything different this year.For that reason Bumgarner seems like a much better roto player than H2H. If you’re drafting Bumgarner it’s probably as one of your team’s aces, and you can’t afford to have your aces blow up on you. The small sample sizes brought on by H2H weekly formats make ERA and WHIP less predictable for both you and your opponent, so it’s generally a better strategy to go for plenty of tier two or tier three pitching in H2H leagues than one or two tier one aces.Bumgarner is a great target in H2H leagues if you can get him at a great price, but chances are he’ll go in the late-40s or 50s, and that’s a bit higher than I’d like to pay. In roto leagues I love Bumgarner because I feel at worst he’ll deliver sneaky-good numbers and he could end up breaking out. Despite the blow ups along the way, his end-of-season stats will look great.
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