Most fantasy owners were waiting for Andrew McCutchen to break out and become a superstar. You could just see the potential in the numbers and could see him inching his way to stardom. He fulfilled the promise in 2012, posting the following line:
593 At Bats
.327 Batting Average (194 Hits)
31 Home Runs
20 Stolen Bases
.400 On Base Percentage
.553 Slugging Percentage
While it was a magical season, fantasy owners need to be a little bit cautious when valuing him for 2013. The knee jerk reaction is to dub him a superstar and a first round pick. However, making that assessment could put you in a significant hole that you won’t be able to recover from.
The first number that jumps out at you is the BABIP. Even with his speed and a 21.9% line drive rate, there is little chance that he can replicate it. Keep in mind, the line drive rate was really inflated for just three months (he closed the year with months of 18.5% and 18.6%). Over those two months his BABIP were also much more realistic, at .321 and .278, leading to averages in the .250s. Read more
It seems like most young starters in the Twins organization can be cast into a similar mold, doesn’t it? They don’t necessarily throw hard and they don’t generate a ton of strikeouts, but they have pinpoint control and therefore are at least intriguing players to fantasy owners.
One such pitcher is Scott Diamond (though he was a Rule 5 pick from the Atlanta Braves, not a pitcher solely developed in Minnesota) who got an extended look in the Twins’ rotation a year ago:
90 Strikeouts (4.68 K/9)
31 Walks (1.61 BB/9)
73.3% Strand Rate
Obviously, for most the strikeout rate is a virtual non-starter. He only had one month over 4.90 (he was at 5.97 in 31.2 May innings) and he doesn’t throw particularly hard with an average fastball of 89.4. Read more
It was an interesting 2012 campaign for Miller, who posted a 6.17 ERA in 17 starts in the first half of the season at Triple-A. However, in the second half he rediscovered his form and showed why he is considering one of the best prospects in baseball. All he did in his 10 second half starts was post a 2.88 ERA, including 70 K vs. 7 BB in 59.1 innings of work.
The turnaround enabled him to make four big league appearances at the end of the year, including one start, where he kept the good times rolling (16 K vs. 4 BB over 13.2 innings). Now, there are two questions that need to be asked. First, wht happened early in the year? Second, when (not if) he gets a full-time spot in the Cardinals rotation.
We posted this quote during last season, but it does a great job of answering our first question. In regards to the stunning turn around, Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post Dispatch is reporting (click here for the post):
“This surge corresponds with the midseason break the Cardinals gave Miller to reset. He had struggled to a 4-8 record and a 6.17 ERA in his first 17 starts at Triple-A Memphis. The Cardinals pulled him briefly from the rotation so that he could recapture his mechanics — they had started to erode a bit from previous seasons. And they instituted a no-shake rule. Miller had become too dependent on his fastball, and that allowed opposing hitters to wait for it and hammer it. The no-shake rule meant that Miller could not shake-off the catcher, no matter what the catcher called.” Read more
In light of the trade sending Joel Hanrahan to Boston (where he sends Andrew Bailey into a setup role), the Pittsburgh Pirates are left looking for a new closer. While we all know who is going to enter the season with the job, is he really the best option? Do we really think he can thrive in the role?
Lets take a look at how things currently shake out in the Pittsburgh pen:
He is going to get the first shot at closing and he has posted an ERA of 3.00 or better in three of the past four seasons. He also has seen his strikeout rate improve and walk rate decrease each of the past three seasons (strikeout rate // walk rate):
2010 – 9.66 // 5.32
2011 – 10.19 // 4.13
2012 – 13.81 // 3.38
They were highly impressive numbers in 2012, but it is hard to believe in a total transformation for a 35-year old (he will be 36 to start the 2013 campaign). Throw in the fact that he is consistently hit hard (over 22% line drive rate in three of the past four years including 24.4% in ’12), could easily see his control regress and the Pirates need a long-term solution at closer, and this experiment could easily implode. Read more
In 2012 you could count the number of 20/30 players on one hand. It’s a rare breed, highlighted by some of the bigger names in baseball:
- Mike Trout
- Ryan Braun
- B.J. Upton
- Jimmy Rollins
We know te top two names are locks to be first round selections and, while the other two aren’t quite up to their level, both offer plenty of fantasy appeal (even the “declining” Jimmy Rollins, though that’s a discussion for another day). There was nearly a fifth member of this exclusive club, but one that few would guess. Carlos Gomez came up one home run shy, finishing with 19 HR and 37 SB despite getting 452 plate appearances.
The question now facing fantasy owners is if this production was a breakout, or if it was nothing more than aberration. While Gomez has consistently failed to impress, we need to remember that he was once a highly touted prospect in the New York Mets organization and a centerpiece of the Johan Santana trade. He isn’t just a bum that suddenly errupted, there could be a real possibility that he’s a late bloomer. Read more
Theo Epstein and company had a clear goal in mind entering the offseason, improving a starting rotation that posted a 4.52 ERA in 2012. After adding four pitchers who could potentially fill rotation spots in 2013, they clearly have given themselves options. Are they better, however? Lets take a look at the pitchers vying for rotation spots and their potential fantasy appeal:
A holdover from the past two seasons and the likely ace of the staff. His 2012 did end after 103.2 innings due to elbow issues, but at this point expectations are that he will be ready for Spring Training. He has proven capable of generating strikeouts (K/9 of 8.95 and 8.33) with good control (BB/9 of 2.86 and 2.78) while pitching in th NL. As long as he keeps the ball in the ballpark, there is no reason to think that he won’t be a must own option in all formats.
After breaking out in 2012, he’s not in jeopardy of being returned to the bullpen. A 3.81 ERA and 1.22 WHIP have a habit of doing that. However, I wouldn’t go into the season assuming he’s a lock to replicate those numbers. Control has always been one of hs issues, yet he posted a 2.89 BB/9 last season. Could he have simply figured it out? Could having to harness his stuff to go deep into games have helped with his control? Absolutely, but it is no guarantee. Throw in a 22.3% line drive rate (only two months under 23.8%) and there are reasons to be skeptical. He’s worth owning due to his upside, but I definitely wouldn’t overspend to get him due to the risk of a regression. Read more