To Draft or Not To Draft: Why Jake Odorizzi Is Better Left For Someone Else In 2016

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Pitching in the AL East is going to add some degree of risk to any pitcher, especially one on the Tampa Bay Rays (who arguably have the weakest lineup in the division). No one is going to shy away from Chris Archer (though there is at least some risk), but could the story be different for Jake Odorizzi? Is he a player we want to be targeting in 2016 drafts or would fantasy owners be better served to go in another direction?

Strikeouts:
His 7.97 K/9 from ’15 was solid and his overall 10.1% SwStr% and 32.1% O-Swing% indicate a little bit more upside (as does his 9.1 K/9 over his minor league career). The fact that the number rose to 8.48 in the second half, and was consistently over 8.00 from June on, also helps:

  • April – 6.95
  • May – 7.69
  • June – 8.31
  • July – 8.14
  • August – 8.92
  • September – 8.17

It comes together for us to expect a K/9 in the 8.25-8.50 range. That’s a good number, and one that isn’t going to hurt you, but keep in mind there were 27 qualified pitchers who posted an 8.50 K/9 or better in ’15. In other words he’s not a “special” in this department, just a solid contributor.

Control:
His 2.44 BB/9 is impressive, though it rose in the second half (2.90 BB/9) and was at 2.8 in the minors (3.1 at Triple-A). With a 3.16 BB/9 in ’14 in the Majors, it’s looking more and more like the second half mark is a lot closer to the truth. Sure a BB/9 of about 3.00 is fine, but it’s also unspectacular.

Groundballs:
Last season he posted a 37.3% groundball rate and owns an MLB career mark of 33.4%. While home runs have not yet been a significant issue (1.01 HR/9 for his career), it wouldn’t be surprising to see them plague him at some point given the powerful lineups in the AL East he has to maneuver through.

Luck:
Sure his 3.35 ERA and 1.15 WHIP from last season are worth noting, but his .271 BABIP despite a 22.0% line drive rate screams of a potential regression. In fact he’s consistently been hit hard in the Majors (22.2% career line drive rate) and it’s impossible not to expect his BABIP to rise (and potentially significantly).

Conclusion:
It’s easy to let the surface numbers excite you, but his strikeout rate is solid (but at this point also “unimpressive”) and there’s little else in his makeup to excite us. Throw in pitching in the AL East and it’s easy to immediately take him off your draft board. While we wouldn’t go that far, with an ADP of 156.44 we’d much rather wait and take pitchers like Yordano Ventura (174.03) or Patrick Corbin (195.11).

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, STATS

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One comment

  1. Al says:

    Have to agree with you – I much prefer pitchers like Corbin rather than throwers like Ventura. I’m actually surprised he isn’t getting a little more love in the drafts this year – particularly since he is slated as a #3 guy on a strong team.

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