Fantasy Baseball: 6 Swinging-Strike Stars Who Could Rebound in 2018

Masahiro Tanaka possessed a fantasy-damaging ERA last year, but his sparkling swinging-strike rate indicates he could be in for a much better season in 2018.

The calendar has turned to 2018, and for me, that means some early draft prep for fantasy baseball .

If there is one position that needs some loving care and extra attention, it's filling out your starting rotation. The studs are easy -- yes, you should take Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale early in your drafts -- but you need depth to have a successful fantasy rotation. That means we need to put in the research to uncover some of those lesser-known contributors.

Because it's often a standalone category in fantasy baseball leagues, strikeouts are a key factor that deserves some extra scrutiny. You could argue it is the most important thing when it comes to predicting a pitcher's future performance. After all, it's hard for pitchers to allow runs if they are whiffing dudes left and right, and obviously, a strikeout removes any poor batted-ball luck from the equation.

But we can dig deeper than looking at just punchouts by peeping swinging-strike rate -- which is the total number of swings and misses generated out of the total number of pitches thrown. Obviously, guys who get a lot of strikeouts will typically have high a swinging-strike rate, but the stat can also clue us in on some pitchers who should have ended up with more strikeouts than they did.

Among starting pitchers who fired 100 or more innings in 2017, there were a few who cultivated strong swing-and-miss marks but struggled in terms of more traditional stats like wins and ERA. In most fantasy leagues, wins and ERA are still important stats, but the good thing is that these pitchers will likely improve those numbers if they can keep getting swings and misses at a high rate.

The following six pitchers all possessed ranking gaps of 50 or more spots between their standing in swinging-strike rate and ERA, and each of them could be a nice value in 2018 drafts.