Fantasy Baseball: 5 Strike Throwers Who Could Break Out in 2017

Here are five starting pitchers, including Oakland lefty Sean Manaea, who could emerge in 2017 thanks to their ability to pound the zone.

Baseball can be a simple game when you boil it down to its basic components. Hit the ball. Catch the ball. Run hard. Throw strikes.

But pitchers often have trouble throwing strikes -- despite the unbelievable incremental advantage it gives them.

It's no surprise that the pitchers who are the most successful are the ones who pound the strike zone. And if we review the leaderboard of those that threw the most first-pitch strikes (F-Strike%) over the last two seasons, it's a who's who of some folks that took down some serious hardware.

Name Season F-Strike% ERA SIERA
Phil Hughes 2015 71.70% 4.40 4.39
Max Scherzer 2015 71.30% 2.79 2.63
John Lackey 2015 70.80% 2.77 3.90
Jose Quintana 2015 69.30% 3.36 3.62
Wei-Yin Chen 2015 68.40% 3.34 3.97
Clayton Kershaw 2016 69.70% 1.69 2.41
Matt Shoemaker 2016 68.60% 3.88 3.87
Johnny Cueto 2016 68.60% 2.79 3.59
Kyle Hendricks 2016 68.60% 2.13 3.70
John Lackey 2016 68.10% 3.35 3.83

All but one of these starters posted a sub-4.00 ERA, and five of them posted marks of 3.00 or less. Simply put, throwing a first-pitch strike led to a great deal of success.

If we look at 2016 pitching data, we can peep some other hurlers who threw a ton of first-pitch strikes but maybe didn't enjoy the same levels of success. Could they be primed for breakouts in 2017?

The following pitchers all ranked in the top-35 starting pitchers in first-pitch strike rate, and they also recorded a swinging-strike rate of greater than 10%.