Mike Minor: 2011 NL SP for $1 Review

In mid-March, I published an article espousing Braves starter Mike Minor as a good $1 option in your auction draft. I was a relatively big Minor fan and considered him an undervalued/sleeper breakout candidate. Then surprisingly, Brandon Beachy won the fifth spot in the rotation, something I thought Minor had pretty much already locked up. While Beachy ended up pitching very well and making the move look good, is Minor still worth watching?

Next year, the Braves will have an entertaining spring training as a ton of potentially exciting pitchers audition for the last spot in the rotation. This will include Minor, meaning that once again he may depart spring training without a rotation spot. This also means that he could very well be trade bait. That said, let us assume he will be a starting pitcher somewhere and focus on how he might perform.

Minor only ended up throwing 82.2 innings as he was shuttled back and forth between the minors and the big league club. In those innings, however, he was a slight disappointment, as he posted a 4.14 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. Of course, compared to his 2010 debut when he posted a ghastly 5.98 ERA, this year may be seen as a huge step forward. Digging deeper though, we find the culprit in 2010: a crazy high .379 BABIP, which also depressed his LOB% to just 65.4%.

The apparent bad luck reared its ugly head again in 2011 as his BABIP was once again at a ridiculous level, sitting at exactly .350. That was actually somewhat deserved as his LD% was 27.4%, nearly 33% higher than the league average rate. These inflated BABIPs have caused his ERAs to finish at drastically higher marks than his SIERA and xFIPs, which have sat within a respectable range between 3.43 and 3.65. Now having pitched 123.1 innings in the Majors, he sports an awful .359 BABIP, causing his career ERA to sit at more than a full run above his SIERA and xFIP.

Moving past the luck metrics, he has shown pretty good skills in the Majors, and even better in the minors. He has struck out nearly a batter per inning, though no doubt that has been inflated a bit by the high BABIP, while displaying pretty good control. Some additional ground balls would be nice to see, but his strikeout and walk rates are good enough that the grounders aren’t as crucial. His SwStk% dropped to just 8.1% in 2011, which was actually below the league average of 8.6%, and a decline from 2010’s 11.3% mark. His F-Strike% jumped at least, to a very strong 64%, confirming his excellent control.

The bottom line on Minor is that he has shown pretty good skills that have carried over well from the minors, but the BABIP bug has bitten him hard. It seems much too early to claim he is a true talent high-BABIPer, so you have to expect that to come down to the league average next season. His overall value will obviously depend a lot on whether he has a rotation spot coming out of spring training, and what team that spot is even with. He could very well turn a nice profit for NL-Only leaguers and I still believe he could generate some mixed league value as well.





Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Brad Johnson
Member
Member

The problem for Minor in 2012 is figuring out where he’ll get innings. Hudson, Jurrjens, and Hanson obviously command 3 rotation spots if healthy and Lowe could potentially compete for a fourth. Then there is Beachy, Teheran, and Medlen who are all arguably ahead of Minor on the depth chart.

My guess is that Minor will have a very brief window to snatch a rotation spot. I get the sense that the Braves would like to use Beachy as their fourth starter and hold open competition for the fifth spot. Teheran could probably use another quarter/half season working in the minors and Medlen might need some time to full recover from TJS. If Minor can hit the ground running out of the gate, he should be able to cling to the job, other wise, that pair or Lowe will likely leapfrog him.

RC
Member
RC

I agree that Hudson, Hanson, and Jurrjens all have rotation spots, if healthy (and not traded). I think Beachy likely has a spot as well, based on this year’s performance. However, general manager Frank Wren was quoted in the local Atlanta paper a few days ago as saying that he didn’t see Derek Lowe as likely to have a rotation spot in 2012. To paraphrase what he said, ‘We have to put our best 5 pitchers out there, and the way things look like now we don’t project Derek to be one of those 5.’

Obviously things can change, but as they currently stands it appears that Minor is competing with Teheran and Delgado for the 5th rotation spot, with Lowe on the outside looking in.

Brad Johnson
Member
Member

Clearly Lowe is a suboptimal choice for the rotation, but given the injury issues hanging over Jurrjens and Hanson’s heads, they probably ought to keep him around, especially if they have to pay over 2/3 of his contract to send him elsewhere.

dutch
Guest
dutch

Frank Wren has already said that he doesn’t see Lowe being in the 2012 rotation.

The Rajah
Guest
The Rajah

Wren will trade Lowe and $8-10MM just to get him off the roster. That will save the Braves $5-7MM and open a roster spot for someone who can actually get people out.

Anon21
Guest
Anon21

Doubt that Medlen is really in the mix for the rotation. Yes, they used him as a starter for a while in 2010, but the organization has generally treated him as a bullpen guy, a role in which he has excelled.