Bum or Bust: Why Madison Bumgarner Should Be Considered A Top 20 Fantasy SP

A serious September swoon has helped some people to sour on Madison Bumgarner, at least a little bit. A 5.47 ERA and 1.63 WHIP have a habit of doing that, but can we really ignore the first five months of the year? How about the last five months of 2011 as well?

Over those ten months of baseball Bumgarner posted one month with an ERA above 4.00 (4.28 in June 2011) and four months above 3.50. He actually had six months below 3.00 over that span, so to downgrade him off of one poor month would be a huge mistake (even if you want to consider his 6.00 postseason ERA, it shouldn’t be enough).

He went through a slump (his BB/9 sat at 3.76, his only month above 2.25 in ’12) and he also suffered from poor luck (.358 BABIP, 65.3% strand rate). Considering the 19.0% line drive rate we can easily dismiss it as bad luck, and you don’t want to draw conclusions based on small sample sizes or the moments that are simply freshest in our minds.

If you look at Bumgarner’s totals over the past two seasons you see impressive numbers:

  • K/9 – 8.40 & 8.25
  • BB/9 – 2.02 & 2.12
  • ERA – 3.21 & 3.37
  • WHIP – 1.21 & 1.11

He continues to combine good control, an above average strikeout rate and a solid groundball rate (46.7% for his career). You put those numbers in the pitcher friendly environment of San Francisco (career 3.08 ERA at home) and there is plenty of reason for optimism.

It looks even better when you realize he was generally unlucky in 2011 (.322 BABIP), yet he still posted a good WHIP. Considering his .276 mark in 2012, there is every reason to believe that he can post another season in the 1.11-1.21 range (closer to the lower end).

You will also have people screaming about his inability to pitch outside of San Francisco, given his 4.40 road ERA in 2012. Keep in mind, he was at 3.31 on the road in 2011 and 3.32 for his career. Looking at one number in a vacuum is easy, but it leads to rash decisions.

Everyone slumps, it happens and is just a fact of life. It is the timing of Bumgarner’s downturn that left a fresh taste in the minds of fantasy owners. Don’t let that deter you, as he has proven over the past two years to be one the best options in the game. He may not be a SP1, but as a number two or, if you are really lucky, a number three you are going to be more than happy with the results.

What are your thoughts of Bumgarner?  Is he a pitcher you are going to target in 2013?  Do you think he can replicate his past success?

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Make sure to check out all of our extremely early 2013 rankings:

5 comments

  1. Bryan Curley says:

    I’d say he’s closer to 10 than to 20 anyway. Love the guy.

  2. Peter Olson says:

    Bumgarner is going to have a great 2013. I also think Ike Davis is going to have a break out year as well.

  3. jmax says:

    Another concearn w him is his velocity as it dipped late in the year. I have him in 2 keepers so it’s something I’ll be paying close attention to

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Definitely a fair point and something that’s worth monitoring, though it could also just be a simple case of fatigue. We’ll have to keep an eye on the spring/April and see how he’s looking.

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