Author Archive

The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 755 – Looking for the Next Big Arm

11/19/19

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live. Support the show by subscribing to Fangraphs! With a standard $20 membership, you help maintain and improve our database of stats and graphs as well as our staff of 8 full-time employees and over 50 contributors. The premium ad-free membership at $50 year supports site growth and also includes faster load speeds and better site performance. You can also support monthly for just $3.

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NOTES ON TOP 50s

  • Brandon Woodruff: excellent fastball, trusted as a workhorse before injury, 3.35 career FIP
  • Max Fried: added slider, improved velo and control, GB lean
  • Zac Gallen: 4-pitch mix, big swing-and-miss, career-long HR suppression
  • Frankie Montas: premium velo, paired 2015-17 K% w/2018 BB%, new splitter, HR suppression
  • Jesus Luzardo: elite prospect w/great K upside, strong 3-pitch mixed, could face IP limitation

THE NEXT BIG PITCHER

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A Closer Look: Houston Astros

This Astros article will not talk about sign stealing. You’re welcome.

Continuing the series I started last week, let’s take a closer look at the World Series runner up!

OTHER TEAMS:

3 QUESTIONS

Can Justin Verlander continue to hold up at age-37?

While Verlander has gone as one of the top starters throughout the early 2020 drafts, there is always a tinge of trepidation because of his age. But should we be worried? It’s hard to say yes. I understand that anyone age-35 or older carries a bit more injury risk, but outside of his age there is nothing in Verlander’s profile that should cause panic. Not even the homers. I mean his 1.5 HR/9 mark was high, but he allowed so few base runners that it didn’t really matter. His ERA went up 0.06 from 2018.

Arguably the biggest effect of the 2019 ball was the number of opposite field home runs that carried out and no one was affect more than Verlander. His 9 oppo tacos tied him for the league lead with Shane Bieber, Noah Syndergaard, Yusei Kikuchi, and his teammate Wade Miley. Even with those homers, his .360 wOBA to the opposite field was still easily the lowest of that group (Bieber was second at .379). The rest of his profile was elite. Don’t sweat the age, draft the reigning Cy Young winner.

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A Top 5 Player at Every Position…

…going 15th or later at their position (30th for OF, 40th for SP, and 20th for RP).

It felt like that’d all be too long for a headline. Anyway, this is a very straightforward concept that I thought of while on my way to getting breakfast tacos! I’m using the Too Early Mocks as my guide here so let’s go position-by-position and find some potential Top 5s!

STARTING PITCHER: Frankie Montas (48th)

I’ve already expressed some love for Montas this offseason so why not go to the next level here? His trajectory has really impressed me. He started as a flamethrower who could miss bats but do little else. Then in 2018 he stopped walking guys, but his Ks tanked… which of course seemed related. This year he put it all together with a 26% K rate, 6% BB rate, and he maintained his excellent HR suppression (0.75 HR/9). His season was cut short by a PED suspension, but he finished on the mound with an excellent six-inning outing on September 25th. Sign me up!

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 754 – Steamer Pitching Projections

11/13/19

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live. Support the show by subscribing to Fangraphs! With a standard $20 membership, you help maintain and improve our database of stats and graphs as well as our staff of 8 full-time employees and over 50 contributors. The premium ad-free membership at $50 year supports site growth and also includes faster load speeds and better site performance. You can also support monthly for just $3.

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NOTABLE TRANSACTIONS/INJURIES/RUMORS

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A Closer Look: Seattle Mariners

I started this new series yesterday and you can bookmark this page to follow along going forward. I’ll put that link in every intro for sure, but I could also list every team that has been covered so far in every intro if you’d like. Please let me know in the comments.

Today we head out to the Pacific Northwest to discuss the Mariners. They are a bit stuck right now with a roster that isn’t really set up to tear down nor is it good enough to truly compete. Their farm system is on the rise, but their best prospects are years away. Of course, GM Jerry Dipoto loves to trade and could flip this entire roster by Christmas. We’ll see how it goes.

3 QUESTIONS

Is Dee Gordon done as a 50-SB threat?

A bruised wrist and strained quad limited Gordon to just 117 games and resulted in his third sub-.700s OPS and underwhelming SB output season in the last four. We can excuse his 30 in 2016 as he played just 79 games and then he led baseball with 60 in 2017 but then just 30 and 22 the last two seasons. Those two seasons don’t even pace that well (31 per 600 PA) when you consider barren numbers that come with the steals (.271 AVG, 4 HR, 41 RBI, and 58 R per 600 PA).

Gordon’s 6.6 speed score was easily a career-worst and his StatCast sprint speed has dipped each of the last three years. He also has a .305 OBP or worse in three of the last four years, including a combined .295 the last two years. Teammate Mallex Smith swiped an MLB-best 46 bases with a .300 OBP so it’s possible to rack up a giant total with a terrible OBP, but Smith is also five years younger and faster. As Gordon enters his age-32 season, it’s hard to project him for more than 30 SB and part of me wonders how much Seattle wants two OBP drains who only offer speed in the lineup on a daily basis.

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A Closer Look: Pittsburgh Pirates

Welcome to a new offseason series where I’ll be taking a closer look at all 30 teams via six different categories, all of which should be self-explanatory in terms of what they’ll cover: 3 Questions, Riser, Faller, A Move to Make (Signing or Trade), Playing Time Battle, and Prospect Contributors for 2020 (1 hitter/1 pitcher). I took all 30 teams and randomized the order since I couldn’t decide on an order myself. The Pirates are leading off!

3 QUESTIONS

What does Josh Bell do for an encore?

Only a groin injury could slow Bell’s massive power breakout. He put together a .946 OPS through five months before limping to the finish line with just 11 games and an .803 OPS. While his 2019 was a massive surge from 2018, it wasn’t the first time he showed capable power (.211 ISO in ’17) and he’s always had a strong plate approach (career 19% K, 12% BB) so I don’t see a major falloff even if the ball changes. I see 27-32 HR, a .275 AVG, and 90+ R/RBI.

Can Gregory Polanco finally stay healthy and breakthrough?

Polanco’s 2018 might already be his breakout (23 HR, 12 SB, 123 wRC+ in 535 PA), but even that season was shortened to 130 games, so his proponents are still holding out hope for a season like that or better in 150 games. Six IL stints over the last three seasons and a major shoulder issue this past season make it hard to see a particularly bright future here. He’ll be priced to buy in 2020, but a 20/10 ceiling feels right.

Is Chris Archer done as a viable fantasy starter?

Things came to a head for Archer last year as his walk and home run rates spiked resulting in a hideous 5.19 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 119.7 innings. The second half of his season wasn’t quite as bad with a 4.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 31% K offers some hope, especially the strikeouts, but if 4.42/1.29 is what we’re looking forward to, then yeah he kinda is done as a viable option in 10- and 12-team leagues. 15-teamers might find some streaming value. I will be eager to see what a new pitching coach in Pittsburgh can do for Archer and a with price at pick-250 or later, he might be a decent late round gamble.

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8 Late Arms to Keep an Eye On

I’m putting a little star next to these 8 arms who went 300 or later in the Too Early Mocks.

Anthony DeSclafani, CIN | Pick 301

Amped his velo to 94.7 mph and generated a career-best 24% K rate that helped him outrun a hideous 1.6 HR/9 and still post a respectable 3.89 ERA. Home runs have always been part of his profile even with a juiced ball so it’s unlikely that he magically posts a league average or better rate but imagine if he can just cut it to 1.2-1.3 in 2020. A mid-3.00s ERA could be in play.

Aaron Civale, CLE | Pick 309

I don’t want to get too annoying mentioning him as I did discuss him in this piece back in September, but I’ll give him another plug here. Not only do I think Civale himself is solid with a useful 5-pitch arsenal, but I’m also putting faith in Cleveland’s ability to develop arms. Not as good as Shane Bieber, better than Adam Plutko/Josh Tomlin.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 753 – Steamer Hitting Projections

11/07/19

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live. Support the show by subscribing to Fangraphs! With a standard $20 membership, you help maintain and improve our database of stats and graphs as well as our staff of 8 full-time employees and over 50 contributors. The premium ad-free membership at $50 year supports site growth and also includes faster load speeds and better site performance. You can also support monthly for just $3.

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NOTABLE TRANSACTIONS/INJURIES/RUMORS

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 752 – Dynasty Talk with Ian Kahn

11/06/19

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live. Support the show by subscribing to Fangraphs! With a standard $20 membership, you help maintain and improve our database of stats and graphs as well as our staff of 8 full-time employees and over 50 contributors. The premium ad-free membership at $50 year supports site growth and also includes faster load speeds and better site performance. You can also support monthly for just $3.

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INTERVIEW WITH IAN KAHN

Dynasty Rankings

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Top 60 Outfielders for 2020

I decided to cut my OF rankings at 60 for this list, but let me be clear that there were another 15 or so who could’ve taken those last 4-5 spots. It’s definitely a mid-to-late round glob of talent, one of several that develops in the OF pool, including a power glob I highlight starting just after #30.

Other 2020 Rankings:

Think I missed someone who is a surefire top 60? Make your case in the comments below. I’m also curious if you have a strong preference with those top 3, who I seem to change my opinion on every other day lately.
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