The inaugural edition of this new column tells you whether you should look to acquire the Reds righty.
In an effort to carve out a niche on the stellar fantasy team here at Baseball Prospectus, I wanted a weekly column that would allow me to do three things: (1) to dive in-depth into individual player performance, (2) to offer BP readers advice on who to target in trades, who to hold onto, and who to sell without resorting to superficial analysis, and (3) to develop an interactive column with the readers.
This column will focus on an individual player each week, breaking down past performance and attempting to determine what fantasy owners can reasonably expect to transpire in the future. We’ll certainly focus on statistics—and primarily so—but it’s my hope that this space will also eventually allow us room to explore mechanical changes, new pitches, etc. with the help of other Baseball Prospectus writers who are much smarter than myself.
Examining Homer Bailey, Danny Salazar, and Justin Masterson.
Last week we studied a trio of pitchers who have enjoyed breakouts in performance over the first month of the season in order to distinguish legitimate improvement from potential mirage. This week, we examine the other side of the coin. There are a handful of pitchers who entered the season with high expectations yet have been knocked around the yard this April, and the most perplexing of these players are those whose peripheral stats are in line with last season but whose batted-ball profiles have taken a dive. It might be tempting to dismiss any vulnerability due to the vagaries of balls in play over small samples, but in some cases there are functional underpinnings to suggest that something has gone awry.
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The fantasy crew runs down the starters it expects to beat their PECOTA projections in punchouts.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at pitching this week, following our run on offense a week ago. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
Bryan Price's club boasts a three-headed rotation monster, a triple-digit-throwing closer, two lefty sluggers, and the fastest player in the game.
The 2013 season ended in brutal fashion for the Reds, as they lost the National League Wild Card Game to a division rival. The offseason wasn’t much better, as they saw one of their best hitters and most consistent pitchers (even if he is flatly average) leave town. They were replaced by internal options who have good upside, but have yet to prove themselves over the course of a full season. They’ll need to hit the ground running, as anything short of a return to the playoffs will be a disappointment in the Queen City.
How do industry insiders (and BP readers) view Tanaka relative to other right-handed starters?
In December of 2011, shortly after the Rangers submitted a winning $51.7 bid for exclusive rights to talk to Yu Darvish, then-BP prospect writer Kevin Goldsteinsurveyed 10 industry insiders to see how good they thought Darvish was going to be. Instead of asking for physical comps or statistical projections, Kevin stacked Darvish up against a selection of five other right-handed starters and asked for each insider’s one-on-one pitcher preference. In retrospect, some of the responses seem silly—three people took Ian Kennedy over Darvish—but the consensus wasn’t far from the mark: Darvish, the insiders said, would be worse than Justin Verlander, roughly as good as Zack Greinke, better than Matt Garza and Kennedy, and much better than Ricky Nolasco. Sounds about right.
Last week, the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka, the best Japanese starter to cross the Pacific since Darvish, to a seven year, $155 million deal (plus posting fee, luxury tax, and the priced-in expense of the opt-out clause) that will make him one of baseball’s 10 highest-paid players in 2014. The next question, naturally, is, “How good is the guy they just got?”
Checking in on two practically perfect pitching prospects, several seasons on.
On the night that Homer Bailey pitched his second career no-hitter, fanning nine Giants against only one walk, Phil Hughes was also in action. Hughes had a good outing, but hardly a historic one: he threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Twins, striking out three and walking two. Bailey’s start was the one that led SporsCenter, but it’s appropriate that the pair’s spots in their respective rotations were synched.
Bailey and Hughes have been linked for a long time. Both were hard-throwing, right-handed high schoolers selected in the first round of the 2004 draft. Hughes stands 6’5”; Bailey stands 6’4.” Hughes is less than two months younger. On our list of the top 100 prospects of 2007, Hughes placed second and Bailey ranked fourth, which made comparisons between them inevitable. Just breathe in the August, 2006-ness of this excerpt from Future Shock:
Homer Bailey and Bartolo Colon join the auto-start ranks as Paul helps you map out your fantasy rotation for the coming week.
Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner. Each week I will cover the pitchers are who slated to make two starts and help you decide who you should start and who you should sit. Sometimes guys will be in the “consider” where they might have one good start, but a second tough one and then your league settings might determine whether or not you should go forward with him. The pitchers will be split by league then by categories:
Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for them either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many – if any – notes associated with these groupings each week. We are starting them automatically so why do I need to expound on how awesome they are and will be in the coming week?
Despite playing excellent defense all year, the Reds drop Game Three to the Giants on a pair of defensive misplays.
Ryan Hanigan was behind the plate for 3,623 batters this year. On average, Reds pitchers threw 3.82 pitches per plate appearance, so Hanigan called 13,840 pitches. Of those, about 36 percent were either fouled away or put into play, so Hanigan actually caught roughly 8,854 pitches. Of those, about 59.5 percent came with bases empty. With runners on base this year, however, pitchers threw 3,588 pitches in Ryan Hanigan’s direction.