2017 Projection: Why Rick Porcello Is Not A Pitcher We Should Be Targeting

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It’s easy to get distracted by a gaudy win total, but we all know the mantra “Don’t Chase Wins!”  Rick Porcello is a prime example of that, as he consistently won games a year ago but the other numbers are not quite as impressive:

223.0 IP
22 Wins
3.15 ERA
1.01 WHIP
189 Strikeouts (7.63 K/9)
32 Walks (1.29 BB/9)
43.1% Groundball Rate
.269 BABIP

Maybe “unimpressive” other numbers isn’t quite accurate, as the WHIP and ERA certainly helped.  The better working may be that he could be a significant regression in the making, meaning he could consistently be overdrafted by owners as we head towards 2017.  Why?  Let’s take a look:

 

Luck
The BABIP screams of an unsustainable mark, despite an 18.9% line drive rate.  Owner of a career .307 BABIP, there wasn’t a change of approach to justify the mark.  There also was a significant split in his number during the year:

  • First Half – .296
  • Second Half – .239

Thanks to his elite control the first half mark, which appears much closer to the truth, still yielded a 1.17 WHIP (0.85 in the second half).  That said, that type of WHIP doesn’t necessarily separate him from the pack.  Among qualified pitchers, replicating a 1.17 WHIP over the entire season would’ve put him in a tie for 22nd in the league.

 

Strikeouts
Porcello did not post an impressive strikeout rate last season, nor has he ever.  The owner of a career 6.09 K/9, his 8.2% SwStr% is well below average (10.1%).  Sure he’s posted a K/9 north of 7.2 in three of the previous four seasons, but is that really a mark anyone wants to be targeting?

 

Home Runs
He struggled with home runs in his first season in Boston (1.31 HR/9).  While it wasn’t an issue in ’16 (0.93), the split is a bit surprising:

  • Home – 0.68
  • Road – 1.15

He posted a 1.08 HR/9 at Fenway Park in ’15, and for a pitcher who no longer generates many groundballs it’s easy to envision a jump in home runs allowed this season.

 

2017 Projection
200.0 IP, 14 W, 3.96 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 168 K (7.56 K/9), 43 BB (1.94 BB/9)

 

Conclusion
Those are still solid numbers, but they are hardly elite.  The lack of strikeouts, as well as the potential regression in his luck metrics, are certainly going to cause him to be overvalued on draft day.  While he won 22 games, but likely that he falls well short of that mark this season.  Considering he’s currently the 26th starter being selected, he’s an easy pass given the risks involved.

Sources – Fangraphs, STATS

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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
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Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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