You probably thought our series that studied high investment in starting pitchers was over! Well, so did I. But, we're forced to revisit it to a glaring omission. We examined the myths around highly drafted starters being riskier or more injury prone than highly drafted batters. Those both proved to be false. But, those aren't the only reasons that experts avoid starting pitching early on. One other main reason is that the drop-off at other positions is more severe, forcing you to wisely secure those positions before thinking about taking a starting pitcher. That's the claim, at least. So, let's examine it.
|Avg. Positional Value by Draft Round (Chone)|
Above is a chart that takes a look at the trend in average WERTH values by position each round. With the starting pitcher trend highlighted in red, you can see that they do maintain value over the other positions throughout most of the draft. Let's examine this further. Here is a glance at the data behind that chart:
Much like the chart showed, you can see that the starting pitchers are not only valuable in Round 2 but also the most valuable pick in much later rounds. So, if you kept drafting for value, you'd end up filling up your entire pitching staff right off the bat then left scrambling. To show exactly how these positional values stack up each round, here's the rankings from the above data:
For the entire first 14 rounds, either starting or relief pitchers represent the most or second most value of the round.
So, for those who argue that drafting starting pitchers early is a fool's errand, there is certainly strong logic behind that. Why use a 4th round pick on a starter when they're still extremely valuable compared to the rest of the board in Rounds 9, 10 and 11? Though, I would argue that even if you start drafting pitchers later than most, you'll want to finish up your pitching staff early because the best values after Round 14 lies in filling in your bench with hitters.