Zimmermann and Happ Signings: Fantasy Implications

Jordan Zimmermann signed by the Tigers

The move to Detroit for the 29-year-old Zimmermann would be considered a downgrade based mainly on him facing a DH more often than a pitcher. The other factors are about the sasme. The ballpark factors are both league average. The 2015 Tigers defense was better than the Nationals according to UZR, but the Tigers also lost their top-rated defender in Cespedes.

The key with determining Zimmermann’s value is figuring out his talent level after a rough 2015 season compared to his good 2014 season. If we compare 2013 to 2015, everything is extremely similar except an uptick in home runs and the associated jump in ERA.

Stat: 2013, 2014, 2015
ERA: 3.25, 2.66, 3.66
FIP: 3.36, 2.68, 3.75
K/9: 6.8, 8.2, 7.3
BB/9: 1.7, 1.3, 1.7
HR/9: 0.8, 0.6, 1.1

In my opinion, it looks like 2014 may be the outlier in his career.

The one issue which does stick out with Zimmerman is his nearly 1 mph drop in fastball velocity. His owners should expect a velocity drop at some point for a near 30-year-old. The key, in my opinion, to Zimmermann’s value is if his velocity keeps dropping. It would be a good idea to keep tabs on his velocity during spring training to make sure it doesn’t drop anymore.

For 2016, I would expect a K/9 around 7.0 and a BB/9 of 1.7 to go with a 3.50 to 4.00 ERA. These values are a little more optimistic than his Steamer Projections of 6.7 K/9, 1.8 BB/9, and 3.81 ERA.

J.A. Happ Signed by the Blue Jays

The 33-year-old Happ went from a career 5th starter to a borderline Ace with the Pirates for a third of a season. Looking at Happ’s career production, he has been borderline horrible with a career 4.13 ERA and ERA estimators to match. His biggest issue before 2014 was walks where a season with a 4.0 BB/9 or more was more common than not. In 2014, he got is BB/9 under 3.0 and down under 2.5 for 2015. Besides the walks, he had a propensity to give up the long ball with a career 1.1 HR/9 value.

Then his 11 starts with the Pirates happened where his K/9 jumped to 9.8 and his BB/9 and ERA dropped down to 1.85. So what changed with the Pirates and can he continue those changes with the Blue Jays? I don’t think so.

1. The Pirates had the league’s best framing catcher in Francisco Cervelli. Even though the Mariners Mike Zunino was good, Cervelli prevented twice as many runs per game.
2. The move from the pitcher hitting NL to the AL and its DH will cost him some runs.
3. The Pirates PNC Park is a pitchers’ park (96 park factor) while Rogers Centre (102) gives an advantage to the hitter.
4. His 85.5% LOB% is unsustainable as a pitcher. Only one qualified starter from 2010 to 2015 had a LOB% over 85% and if was Zack Greinke this past season at 86.5%
5. He posted a career-low .53 HR/9 which is half is career average of 1.08 HR/9.

Don’t pay for the 60+ innings he had with the Pirates. I could see some optimism if he was staying with the Pirates, but he is going to a tougher pitching environment. I peg him with at least a 4.00 ERA, around 7.5 K/9, and a 1.30 WHIP. I am not sure those number are in play in most leagues. I see others owners valuing him more than me and that is fine. I would rather take my chances on a young pitcher breaking out than a 33-year-old continuing a 60 inning breakout.

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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George Brett Anderson
George Brett Anderson

Martin is a good-very good pitch framer as well… good defense + prolific offense behind him with the hope that the Ray Searage magic dust survives the cold Canadian winter, seems like you’re underselling JA. If he stays healthy should at least pile up some wins and Ks.