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2021 1B Preview
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With fewer games for extreme performances to regress back toward player and league averages, it stands to reason that surger and decliner lists are going to be pretty lengthy and more surprising than normal. In addition, the degree in which the metric being analyzed surged or declined is likely to be much greater than in past, full seasons. So let’s remember that when reviewing 2020 numbers and put much less stock into the fact that a player doubled or tripled some rate from 2019, and instead simply consider that the player may have enjoyed skills growth that could potentially carry over into 2021. Today, let’s review the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) surgers. Many of these same names appeared on the leaders list posted on Tuesday, so I’ll try discussing only those not on that list.
I love shopping in the middle and late rounds for pitching. It’s not that I won’t buy studs, I love doing that, too, but finding gems who greatly overperform their draft slot can be instrumental to winnings leagues. I’ve already started analyzing the pitching pool thanks to Justin’s #TooEarlyMocks and here’s a handful of guys I’ll be eyeing as later pickups, especially in any winter drafts I do as they’re all priced to buy right now.
John Means | Baltimore Orioles
Velocity gains didn’t net early results as he managed just a 10.13 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in first four starts. Excellent changeup from 2019 wasn’t there but he regained the feel and put up a 2.73 ERA and 0.88 WHIP over the final six starts (33 IP). The changeup had a 4.2 pitch value during that run and he maintained the velo boost. The home runs are still concerning with a 2.5 rate in 2020 and 1.6 for his career. If he can start keeping the ball in the yard more often, there’s some low-3.00s ERA potential here especially if the new velo and strikeout rate maintain.
While most of the off-season analysis will be on top players, I’m going to focus my attention on the players who will be on the fringes of rostering. They are the players who once the season starts, managers are going to have to make a quick decision on adding or dropping. These players will be in play all season. It’s time to learn about a few options beginning with starting pitchers.
I decided to not pull the pitchers out of thin air but use the ADP from the #EarlyMocks to find them. I started at the bottom and selected any pitcher added by two or more teams (and no auto drafts). Here is an evaluation on the bottom four starters.
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Yesterday, I listed and discussed surprises among the barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB) leaders. Today, let’s flip to the laggards and discuss surprising names at the bottom. We’re going to have to include a much longer list of names to find surprises, compared to the leader list.
• Josh James is going to be out for six to eight months recovering from hip surgery.
The recovery time for that procedure is approximately 6-8 months, the club announced on Saturday. A sixth-month recovery would take James into late April, while an eight-month recovery would stretch into late June. That’s another blow to an Astros pitching staff that already lost ace Justin Verlander for the entire 2021 season after he recently underwent Tommy John surgery.
I don’t see any reason to roster him in any league that drafts before there is a positive update on his status.
• Khris Davis is likely limited to the short side of a DH platoon.
After four seasons as the team’s everyday DH, Khris Davis faced mainly left-handed pitchers in 2020, which limited his playing time to 30 games. He split the DH role with Canha, who played 21 games in that spot.
He’s worthless in fantasy right now.
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2021 TOO EARLY MOCKS
The Closing Pool
The Kansas City Royals decided to use the shortened season to their advantage when it came to their young pitchers. Lynn Worthy wrote an interesting piece for KansasCity.com gathering quotes from their pitching coach Cal Eldred. Directly from the article: “We got to take all of our pitchers in the organization, those on the 40-man roster and shift them back into player development,” Eldred said. “They had an opportunity when their arms were as healthy and felt as good and strong as they possibly could be to work on some of those things without the strain of, ‘You’ve just got to make it to the next start,’ or, ‘You’ve just gotta make it to the next outing and get outs.’ You can’t do that in a bullpen in between.”
The Royals already had a young and budding starter in Brad Keller but in 2020 they decided to call up both Brady Singer and Kris Bubic as well. Both of which hadn’t seen competition over AA ball. Both were bold moves and came with speculation but like Eldred said they had time to focus on development and these young Royals pitchers really improved as the season went on.
Every year I run mock drafts at the end (or right before the end) of the regular season. The idea is to get some gut reactions of the industry on where players are likely to be taken in early drafts for the following year.
In just a 60 game season, all the numbers and rates I typically analyze and include as components in my various equations will look wackier than normal. The small the sample size, the greater the chance a rate settles in at the extreme end of expectations. This is why we’ll have to heavily regress this year’s numbers when developing 2021 projections. That said, it’s still worth reviewing 2020 rates, as skill changes obviously still did occur. So we’ll start with one of my favorite metrics, barrels per true fly ball (Brls/TFB). This is my own metric that is used as a component in my xHR/FB rate equation. It simply takes Statcast’s barrel and divides by Fangraphs’ fly balls minus infield fly balls.