by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There has long been high expectations for Jose Quintana, and despite a slow start with the White Sox the trade across the city and into the NL only added to the hype. However at the end of the day his overall numbers fell flat, though it didn’t come as a complete surprise for us here at Rotoprofessor. T hose who purchased our 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft saw him labeled as a potential overdraft, when we said:
“There is something to be said about Quintana’s steady approach and he brings elite control. However his groundball rate fell last season (40.4%) and he doesn’t have strikeout upside (7.6% SwStr% in ’16). While he got the job done in ’16, can he continue to thrive with just one “true” skill? Throw in the name recognition, thanks to trade rumors, and the risk outweighs the reward (as the cost will likely be a Top 30 starter).”
Obviously if you paid a top 30 starter price tag you will bitterly disappointed with these numbers:
207 Strikeouts (9.87 K/9)
61 Walks (2.91 BB/9)
44.8% Groundball Rate
It’s interesting that he saw a spike in his strikeout stuff, which had started even before the trade to the National League (9.40 K/9 in 18 starts with the White Sox). He also rediscovered his control after the trade, getting his BB/9 from 3.45 to 2.24 over his 14 starts with the Cubs. That seems promising, though we need to wonder if he can maintain the improved strikeout numbers.
It’s not like he improved his SwStr%, with an 8.4% mark and nearly identical numbers regardless of which team he pitched for (8.4% for the White Sox, 8.6% for the Cubs). He also didn’t have a pitch with a particularly impressive Whiff%, further clouding the strikeout outlook:
- Curveball – 13.19%
- Changeup – 12.81%
- Fourseam Fastball – 8.06%
- Sinker – 5.62%
While the move to the NL should help, it’s hard to bank on him maintaining even a strikeout per inning let alone the pace he set last season. That’s going to put a ceiling on his value, even with the control, as the groundball rate remains pedestrian. With the rise in power across the game it wouldn’t be surprising to see the home run rate continue to rise for Quintana as well, and that just further adds to the risk.
It all comes together for the following projection for ’18:
200.0 IP, 14 W, 3.74 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 182 K (8.19 K/9), 52 BB (2.34 BB/9)
There’s obviously value in those numbers, but they also aren’t elite. The fear is that someone will be willing to pay for the ballooned strikeout rate, thinking that Quintana can combine that with the lower ERA he had shown prior to ’17. That’s not something we’d be willing to pay for, however. There’s no indication that he can maintain the strikeouts and we’ve long had concerns about his ability to maintain his overall value. We’ll continue to let someone else take the ride, as the risk outweighs any potential reward.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: