Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Adam Conley, aka A “Non-Sleeper” (Despite The Hype)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There is going to be a lot of hype surrounding the Marlins’ Adam Conley heading into the season, as many will pinpoint him as a potential breakout candidate in 2017.  He’s certainly coming off a strong ’16 campaign:

133.1 IP
8 Wins
3.85 ERA
1.40 WHIP
124 Strikeouts (8.37 K/9)
62 Walks (4.19 BB/9)
38.2% Groundball Rate
.299 BABIP

So maybe the numbers weren’t as strong as you may think, as poor control led to a virtually unusable WHIP.  He posted a 3.0 BB/9 coming up through the minors, including a 3.6 mark at Triple-A.  He’s not overpowering (91.0 mph average fastball) and also doesn’t get opponents to chase outside the strike zone often (29.5% O-Swing%).

He was better in the first half, with a 3.62 BB/9, but is that enough to convince us of a “good” mark?  He should improve, but it may not be a significant one.  If that were the only concern it would be easy to overlook and still recommend him as a target, but unfortunately it’s only the beginning.

There’s an obvious home/road split, which doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise given his lack of groundball tendency:

Location
ERA
WHIP
HR/9
Home3.261.300.54
Road4.431.511.21

That shows you that he may only be usable at home, until he proves otherwise (or the matchup justifies the risk).  Then you have to wonder if he will be able to adjust his repertoire a bit, as opponents tattooed his fourseam fastball, but struggled against his secondary offerings (BAA/SLG):

  • Fourseam Fastball – .298/.464
  • Changeup – .197/.316
  • Slider – .167/.275

That leads to the question, why lean on your fastball 65.46% of the time?  If opponents are faring that well against the pitch why not flip the script?  That adjustment would go a long way, but there’s hardly a guarantee that he does.

So we have a pitcher who

  1. Could have lackluster control…
  2. Could only be usable for half his starts…
  3. Needs to show he’s willing to adjust…

Yes he missed time late due to injury, but there is clearly a lot working against him moving into 2017.  While there are some positives, the risks and potential reward just doesn’t seem to be there.  There are a lot of high upside pitching sleepers available, but Conley simply isn’t one that we’d be looking to target.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Last Updated
Catcher01/09/17
First Base10/31/16
Second Base11/07/16
Third Base11/14/16
Shortstop11/21/16
Outfielder12/05/16
Starting Pitcher12/13/16
Relief Pitcher01/02/17

2 comments

  1. bbboston says:

    RP:

    Off topic question…sorry.

    When I go back and look at Byron Buxton’s stats, including last year, I see a guy with awfully high KO% rates who was pushed through the minors. I know he’s got off the charts athleticism, but feels like he was pushed way to quickly. What are your thoughts on Buxton?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I think the upside is still there, but it’s absolutely going to take time for him to develop as he was rushed and needs more experience/exposure. I do think he’ll ultimately become a good player, though if we are simply looking at 2017 the upside isn’t there.

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