To start off, Shane Greene is currently owned in 3% of Yahoo! leagues so he is essentially risk-free and costs absolutely nothing. I have mentioned this before, but having guys like that on your roster is a positive as it gives you built in waiver wire drop-ability. I know prior to using the “waiting on pitching” strategy I often would come into some issues when my roster was stacked with guys I invested in or felt I couldn’t drop, and when an appealing add came across the waiver wire I struggled with being able to let anyone go.
With that said, the point of his article is not to let you know that you can drop Greene at any time. The point is to say he is worth having on your roster in advance of his upcoming season. In a split league I am in, we drafted Greene with our second to last pick (I was away for the draft) and I was ecstatic that my co-owner went after him.
Though Greene did not have a stellar minor league career, he did have quite an impressive rookie campaign in New York. The two most notable mars are the high strikeout rate and the high ground ball rate. He still allowed a good amount of home runs per fly ball, but we also have to consider he was pitching in the AL East which includes four extreme home run friendly ballparks. In 78 innings he struck out more than a batter per inning and had a ground ball rate above 50%. Now he has moved to Detroit, a safer ballpark and in a division of safer ballparks.
Along with the good rates was solid velocity, as he averaged 93.5 miles per hour with his four seam fastball and 92.7 miles per hour with his more commonly used two-seamer. The two-seamer generates the ground balls while the four-seamer allows him to ramp it up a bit for strikeouts. His slider was his only quality secondary pitch, which will likely not allow him to develop past a middle of the rotation starter unless his changeup continues to improve as reports have stated this spring, but even with the two fastballs and slider he owns real appeal in standard leagues today.
Looking back at his track record, he never struck out this many batters. For that reason, ZiPS and Steamer both project him with an ERA north of 4.40, and that is fine. With a guy who you are getting for free there are always caveats. However, I am willing to roster a guy and bet on 14 starts of legitimate quality I the American League than to run away because he was never this good before.
Maybe he will not be that good again, and if he is not you have full capability of dropping him. However, there’s also the chance that you end up with another season of a ton of ground balls and more strikeouts than innings pitched. And for a guy that is just sitting on there on the waiver wire for whomever to grab, I would rather have him on my team than a competitor. I would take a risk on a player like Greene who has done it before at the major league level, albeit in a short sample, than a higher rated prospect who has only done well in the minors. Grab Greene if he is available in your league and hope you were the one to grab this year’s Collin McHugh.
Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.