Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Hendricks, Weaver, Reyes, & Judge

Quick Looks: Kyle Hendricks, Luke Weaver, and Alex Reyes

Saturday’s Cardinals-Cubs game made for some good pitcher watching with three young pitchers taking the mound. Let me start with Hendricks.

A couple of years back, I did a Quick Look at Hendricks and here were my thoughts:

I just have not seen enough of him to convince me he can keep up the results. I would not be surprised one bit if his ERA from now to season’s end was near 4.00 (which is where his ERA estimators are hanging out).

It is two years later and I think people are still a little surprised to the see the soft-tossing righty still going. If a person looks into is overall pitch results, the reasons for his success are obvious. All three of his pitches, sinker, change, and curve, break downward. The combination leads him to have a +50% GB% which should help to keep his ERA just under his FIP. Here are my takes on each of his pitches as they stand now:

  • Sinker: The sinker was between 87-89 mph. Besides sinking, it also cut in late which will make it hard to barrel up. He didn’t have great control of the pitch, but it was effectively inconsistent.
  • Change: This pitch was nasty. It came in at 80 mph and looks just like his fastball and then just drops hard right at the end. For the season, it has a 25% swinging strike rate.
  • Curveball: The curve was the 12-6 variety at 73-75 mph. He basically uses it as a show-me pitch to keep hitters from sitting on his other two pitches.

Hendricks looks to be a nice #2 to #4 real life starter who could have some BABIP issues with his sinker. Right now, the sinker’s high groundball rate (58%) and the change’s swing-and-miss capability make him a nice end-of-rotation arm in pretty much all leagues.

Luke Weaver’s results looked acceptable, two runs in four innings pitched, but I was not impressed with the overall package. First here are his pitches:

  • Fastball: Was 93-96 mph in the first inning, but leveled out at 90-93 for the other three innings. It is very straight which will keep it from being elite. The 96 mph velo gets thrown around, but normally he operates much slower.
  • Cutter: It was 91-93 mph with some glove-side run. It had the little bit of run which helped to differentiate it from his fastball.
  • Change: It was a split-change and there is a nice still shot of him throwing it for the 2nd out in the 1st inning. It was 83-85 mph with some drop.
  • Curveball: It was at 80 mph with 12-6 break. I didn’t see him throw it for strikes and it was a just a swing-and-miss pitch.

Of the pitches, I liked his change the best, until he hung it twice. The first time he gave up a double. The next time it was hung it went for a home run. A person can sort of see the pieces for a decent pitcher, but I think he will have few items holding him back. I am not sure he has an above average fastball. It’s more like league average. The lack of an average third pitch will limit his upside. The curve may eventually be average, but it’s not right now. I see him as a 40 to 80 fantasy pitcher similar to Jeremy Hellickson, Tanner Roark, and Marcus Stroman.

Alex Reyes took over for Weaver and it was a nice chance to see the recent call-up. Here are his pitches:

  • Fastball: 95 to 100 mph and generally straight with some glove-side run. Its straightness and blazing speed remind me of Kevin Gausman’s and Yordano Ventura’s fastballs. Their fastballs rely just on speed and haven’t become elite. It is a very hittable pitch and only has a 4% swinging strike rate so far.
  • Change: 87-88 mph and very straight. Not a good pitch.
  • Curve: This pitch and his fastball are why he gets such high praise. He can throw this 12-6 for strikes or get hitters to chase it.

It will be interesting to see how hitters adjust to his speed after seeing him a second time. I should be more excited, but I am not. I was hoping to be blown away. I think Ventura and Gausman may be good comps for him going forward into next year and he should be valued as such. I think Reyes may have a bit more talent than the other two, but his workload may be limited after throwing only 69 innings so far this season. While his 2017 value limited, he does need to be kept in all keeper leagues for the breakout potential.

Prospect profile for Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has been on people’s prospect radars for a while and he has been profiled for years. His most recent grades from Baseball America and MLB.com differ in every aspect except his speed, so each set of grades generates a different set of comparables. Here are the comps with Baseball America’s grades first and then MLB.com’s.

Comparable Hitter Individual Prospect grades to Aaron Judge ‘s 2016 BA Grades
Name Year Report Publication Batting Power Speed Defense Arm
Aaron Judge 2016 BA 45 75 50 50 60
Yasmany Tomas 2015 BA 45 70 50 50 60
Aaron Judge 2015 BA 50 70 50 50 55
Alex Jackson 2016 BA 50 70 45 50 60
Steven Moya 2015 MLB 45 65 50 50 60
Kris Bryant 2015 MLB 55 80 50 50 60
Clint Frazier 2015 MLB 50 65 50 50 55
Hunter Renfroe 2015 BA 50 70 50 60 60
Jorge Soler 2015 BA 50 70 50 50 70
Clint Frazier 2016 BA 50 65 55 50 55
Hunter Renfroe 2015 MLB 50 65 55 55 60
Jorge Soler 2015 MLB 55 70 55 55 65
Kris Bryant 2014 MLB 55 75 40 50 60
Courtney Hawkins 2013 BA 55 65 50 55 60
Domingo Santana 2015 MLB 45 60 50 50 60
Domingo Santana 2014 MLB 45 60 50 50 60
Stephen Piscotty 2014 MLB 45 60 50 50 60
Jorge Soler 2014 MLB 55 65 50 55 65

Hitters who performed similar to Aaron Judge’s scouting grades over their first three seasons

Mike Napoli, Giancarlo Stanton, Wilin Rosario, Mark Reynolds, Carlos Quentin, Will Middlebrooks, Jay Bruce, Dan Uggla, Chris Young, Ian Stewart

Comparable Hitter Individual Prospect grades to Aaron Judge ‘s 2016 MLB.com Grades
Name Year Report Publication Batting Power Speed Defense Arm
Aaron Judge 2016 MLB 50 60 50 60 50
Hunter Renfroe 2016 MLB 50 60 50 60 55
Clint Frazier 2016 MLB 50 60 55 55 50
Brendan Rodgers 2016 MLB 55 60 50 55 50
Brendan Rodgers 2016 BA 55 60 50 60 55
Cody Bellinger 2016 BA 55 60 55 60 50
Ryan Mcmahon 2016 MLB 50 55 45 55 50
Joc Pederson 2015 MLB 55 60 55 55 55
Bradley Zimmer 2016 BA 55 55 55 60 55
Alex Jackson 2016 MLB 50 55 45 55 45
Matt Kemp 2003 MLB Scouting Reports 50 60 50 50 55
Hunter Renfroe 2016 BA 50 60 50 55 60
Joc Pederson 2014 MLB 55 55 55 55 55
Nick Williams 2016 BA 60 60 50 55 50
Nomar Mazara 2016 MLB 55 60 40 60 50
Dustin Fowler 2015 2080 50 55 60 60 50
Willy Adames 2016 MLB 55 50 50 60 50

Hitters who performed similar to Aaron Judge’s scouting grades over their first three seasons

Chase Utley, Jason Heyward, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Jeff Francoeur, Grady Sizemore, Todd Frazier, Ryan Zimmerman, Hank Blalock, Bobby Crosby

The big difference is that Baseball America sees Judge with more power and less batting average than MLB.com. I really don’t know where his true talent lies. Both lists are decent, but just a little different type of hitter.

Three Outcome Leaders

Three Outcome Leaders (min 200 PA)
Name PA HR/PA BB/PA SO/PA Total
Jarrod Saltalamacchia 216 4.6% 14.8% 35.2% 54.6%
Miguel Sano 363 5.5% 12.1% 34.7% 52.3%
Chris Davis 486 4.9% 13.8% 33.3% 52.1%
Kirk Nieuwenhuis 314 3.2% 14.0% 34.4% 51.6%
Jason Castro 295 2.4% 13.2% 34.2% 49.8%
Chris Carter 459 5.9% 10.9% 32.7% 49.5%
Mike Napoli 466 6.2% 10.9% 31.8% 48.9%
Justin Smoak 301 4.3% 11.6% 32.6% 48.5%
Matt Joyce 206 5.8% 17.5% 23.8% 47.1%
Brett Wallace 218 2.8% 12.4% 31.7% 46.8%
Sean Rodriguez 232 5.2% 9.9% 31.5% 46.6%
Giancarlo Stanton 432 5.8% 10.4% 30.3% 46.5%
Byung-ho Park 244 4.9% 8.6% 32.8% 46.3%
Trevor Story 415 6.5% 8.4% 31.3% 46.3%
Curt Casali 210 3.3% 9.5% 33.3% 46.2%
Brandon Moss 308 6.8% 9.1% 30.2% 46.1%
Ryan Raburn 213 3.8% 11.3% 30.5% 45.5%
Yasmani Grandal 319 5.6% 15.1% 24.8% 45.5%
Tyler Naquin 256 5.1% 9.0% 30.5% 44.5%
Franklin Gutierrez 216 5.1% 10.2% 29.2% 44.4%





Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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abailey
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abailey

I don’t see much downside in Hendricks.

He doesn’t throw heat so he inspires less confidence, I guess, and can be had for cheaper. But dating back to 2014, he’s in the top-25 among active starters in ERA, FIP, xFIP. He seems less a “end-of-rotation arm” and more a frontline or middle type guy. I’m not sure what else he can possibly do to be considered “for real.”