Sell High Candidate: Why Now Could Be The Prime Time To Deal Jose Quintana

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

If you were in the camp of “Jose Quintana’s value is limited since he can’t win ballgames” (though at this point we all know chasing wins is a dangerous game), then 2016 helped to solve that problem. Quintana reached double-digit victories for the first time in his career, while showing the same general ability that he has for four years running:

208.0 IP
13 Wins
3.20 ERA
1.16 WHIP
181 Strikeouts (7.83 K/9)
50 Walks (2.16 BB/9)
40.4% Groundball Rate
.293 BABIP

The question is if he has truly emerged as a Top 25ish starting pitcher, or is there still reason for skepticism? Let’s take a look.

Obviously his best skill is his control, something we can’t label as unrealistic (2.31 BB/9 for his career). Of course it’s not that he’s getting opponents to chase outside the strike zone (28.3% O-Swing%), and that brings a different set of questions.

Quintana is not an overpowering pitcher, with a 7.8% SwStr% last season. He needs to spot his pitches and be inside the strike zone, and that could lead to harder contact overall.  Last season he posted a 20.9% line drive rate and for his career is at 21.6% (22.4% in the second half of last season). In the past he has been prone to higher BABIP (.327 in 2015), so it’s obviously something to watch and monitor.

He also saw a dip in his groundball rate last season, probably in part thanks to ditching his cutter (which he only three minimally as it was). The mark he posted last season, when coupled with his home ballpark, makes home run issues a potential concern. It wasn’t a major problem last season, but would it be surprising if it was?

So, let’s summarize:

  • Limited strikeout rate
  • Potential home run issues
  • Likely regression in his “luck” (including a 79.0% strand rate last season)

While it’s hard to ignore Quintana and the consistent impact he’s made over the past few years, it’s also impossible to ignore the risks as well. The numbers are strong and have value, but the upside is limited and there’s a real risk of regression. That makes now the perfect time to consider selling high.

Source – Fangraphs

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