Articles by Paul Sporer

Sporer covers pitching for RotoWire. He also writes for Baseball Prospectus and publishes an annual guide on starting pitchers. In his spare time, he roots for the Tigers.

10 Post-Hype Pitchers

I’ve got some lists for you. I’ve got so many that I can’t give ‘em all to you today, but instead I’ll be giving them to you all month. There will be lists that you’re used to like the 10 Best Breakouts or the 10 Best Relievers Who Could Close or today’s about Sleeper Hitters, but also ones a little more out there like 10 Guys Who Could 20-20 (Going Pick 150 or Later) or 10 Guys on the 40-Man Who Could Beat Better Prospects to the Majors. If you have an idea of a 10-man list you’d like to see covering a particular topic, let me know on Twitter (@sporer).

Previous Lists:

10 Sleeper Hitters (Going Pick-150 or Later)

10 Sleeper Pitchers (Going Pick-150 or Later)

Today:

10 Post-Hype Sleepers

Last week I hit you with some general sleepers on both sides. Today’s list is kind of a sleeper list, though with a particular bent – the post-hype arms. Sometimes a guy loses his hype for good reason: injury, underperformance, or a combination of both. But sometimes there is no real good reason. A lot of times it’s because they didn’t become superstars immediately which is an unrealistic expectation of any player.

One of these guys – Drew Hutchison – wasn’t a huge prospect coming up, but he built up some hype coming into last season after some solid work for parts of 2014. All of the others were prospects at a point and charted on top 100 lists at Baseball America (BA), Baseball Prospectus (BP), or MLB.com (MLB). Baseball-Reference now includes these rankings on the minor league player pages so I pulled their highest rank from there.

PLAYER TEAM ADP PEAK (OUTLET) COMMENT
Shelby Miller ARI 157 5 (MLB) Detractors are trying too hard – mid-90s heat, amp his GB%, still just 25; worse park, but better team
Andrew Cashner SD 266 95 (BA) MLB-worst .330 BABIP has to regress, espec. w/Alexei Ramirez in town; has electric stuff when on
Matt Moore TB 270 1 (BP) TJ return had bumps, but finished on high note (3.12 ERA, 72 Ks in 66.3 IP in AAA/MLB); finally cut BBs
Nathan Eovaldi NYY 320 70 (MLB) Made huge strides w/splitter as out-pitch v. LHB; taking longer than hoped, but still only 26 this year
Drew Hutchison TOR 384 NR I’m kinda hedging w/Hutch & Sanchez as only one will make rotation, but I’ll gamble on the winner
Aaron Sanchez TOR 385 23 (MLB) Wasn’t great in 11 starts last yr, but TOR is giving the 23 y/o another crack; he’s dirt-cheap now
Archie Bradley ARI 437 5 (MLB) Just 65 IP in ’15 will limit him, but the uber-prospect is now a complete afterthought after 35.7 MLB IP
Henry Owens BOS 473 19 (MLB) The 23 y/o lefty fanned 9.9 batters per nine in 518 minor league IP; improved control is the key
Martin Perez TEX 479 15 (BP) Maybe he was just overrated in the minors thanks a rapid ascent, but I’m not ready to quit the 25 y/o
Matt Wisler ATL 483 34 (BA) Some changeup development from a big jump; must avoid disasters (allowed 37% of ER in 3 starts)

If you’re budget-conscious with your pitching, then you should keep these guys on your list. Miller could be a #2 or even an ace in career-year scenario and he’s going as a #3. Cashner, Moore, and Eovaldi are being drafted as 5th-6th types and they could play up to 3s or better while the rest of the list are worthy $1 gambles. They won’t all click, but it’s a talent-rich group.

10 Sleeper Pitchers (Going Pick-150 or Later)

I’ve got some lists for you. I’ve got so many that I can’t give ‘em all to you today, but instead I’ll be giving them to you all month. There will be lists that you’re used to like the 10 Best Breakouts or the 10 Best Relievers Who Could Close or today’s about Sleeper Hitters, but also ones a little more out there like 10 Guys Who Could 20-20 (Going Pick 150 or Later) or 10 Guys on the 40-Man Who Could Beat Better Prospects to the Majors. If you have an idea of a 10-man list you’d like to see covering a particular topic, let me know on Twitter (@sporer).

Previous Lists:

10 Sleeper Hitters (Going Pick-150 or Later)

Today:

10 Sleeper Pitchers (Going Pick-150 or Later)

Yesterday, I brought you the hitters so you had to know today was going to bring the pitchers.

PLAYER TEAM ADP COMMENT
Jake Odorizzi TB 156 Showed a lot of good in both ’14 and ’15, if he combines the good from each then he’ll become a star.
Taijuan Walker SEA 171 F9 starts: 7.33 ERA, 1.84 WHIP, L20: 3.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP; next step is chopping HRs to fully release the potential.
Wei-Yin Chen MIA 214 Moving from the AL East to NL East is one of the best upgrades any SP can get; new park will help tame HRs.
Ian Kennedy KC 247 He was admittedly uninspiring in SD, but I like the park/defense setup even more in KC; already has the Ks.
Matt Moore TB 272 Demoted in early-Aug, L11 starts (incl. 5 AAA starts): 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 27% K% in 66.3 IP (fmr #1 prospect).
Vincent Velasquez PHI 339 Talent is there & PHI has the space to let him pitch, but just 77 and 88 IP the last 2 yrs limits workload upside.
Kyle Gibson MIN 340 Raised K% w/zero loss to GB%, but still needs a little more to really breakthrough; fewer fastballs will help.
Jon Niese PIT 387 He’s joining the Pittsburgh Pitching Machine in much better shape than previous reclamations.
Mat Latos CWS 406 Unless the medicals are a total mess, this was a steal for CWS; skills still pointing to a sub-4.00 ERA, dirt-cheap
Adam Conley MIA 416 Former semi-prospect had some injury issues, but then rebounded in a AAA repeat & MLB debut; love him.

10 Sleeper Hitters (Pick 150 or Later)

It’s March! It’s the best day of the year, the day we pretend that we like Spring Training games just because we’re so starved for baseball. OK, it’s not the “best” day, but that’s just how excited I am, that I would even briefly declare Spring Training Opening Day as the best day of the year. To celebrate semi-real games once again being a thing, I’ve got some lists for you. I’ve got so many that I can’t give ‘em all to you today, but instead I’ll be giving them to you all month.

There will be lists that you’re used to like the 10 Best Breakouts or the 10 Best Relievers Who Could Close or today’s about Sleeper Hitters, but also ones a little more out there like 10 Guys Who Could 20-20 (Going Pick 150 or Later) or 10 Guys on the 40-Man Who Could Beat Better Prospects to the Majors. If you have an idea of a 10-man list you’d like to see covering a particular topic, let me know on Twitter (@sporer).

10 Sleeper Hitters (Going Pick-150 or Later)

It’s tough to have sleepers these days because information is so abundant that no one really gets overlooked. There is someone excited about everyone. OK, maybe not everyone. Sorry, Tuffy Gosewisch. I’m using the 150-pick cutoff because anyone going in the first 10 rounds isn’t really a sleeper.

Pick 150 is 10th-round cutoff for the biggest league type you will see regularly. Yes, there are 16, 18, 20, and probably even 24 or 30-team leagues, but those are the exception for sure. So I’m looking at the NFBC average draft position data and putting together a 10-pack (C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CI, MI, OF, OF, and a Wildcard which is any position – I didn’t UT because I want people to think I’d be picking from the UT-only players) of hitters who can greatly outperform their draft position. If a guy has a 150-200 ADP, I’m saying he can be a top-100 kind of player; if a guy has an ADP greater than 200, I think he can be a top-150 kind of player.

Nationals to Run More in 2016

The hiring of Dusty Baker by the Washington Nationals was probably met with a “meh” followed by an outdated joke about running young arms into the ground. He really didn’t show any of that with the Cincinnati Reds and he had plenty of young arms there. However something that should’ve garnered great attention happened two days and may well have been Baker’s first act as manager: he hired Davey Lopes to be the first base coach.

Now I’m not going to pretend I’m the only one in on Lopes. Several of you were definitely nodding right when you saw his name at the end of that first paragraph. Lopes is something of a Baserunning Whisperer. Check that, he is the Baserunning Whisperer. He really made his mark with the Phillies as their first base coach from 2007-2010. In that time, the Phillies were fourth in total stolen bases with 501, but their success rate was far and away tops at 84%!

Jimmy Rollins (136) and Shane Victorino (132) led the charge while Chase Utley (59) and current National Jayson Werth (60) were efficiency monsters. Utley nabbed those 59 bases on just 64 attempts – a 92% success rate. Break-even is 72%. Werth was no slouch at 60-for-68 (88%). By the way, Rollins and Victorino were at an excellent 88% and 82%, respectively. I didn’t intend to snub them as volume-only in that first sentence.

From Philly he went out to LA with the Dodgers. They didn’t burn up the basepaths quite like the Phillies, but they showed substantial improvement from the two years before he arrived.

Period SBs Att. Success
2009-10 (w/o Lopes) 208 306 68%
2011-15 (w/Lopes) 505 701 72%

Although I will note that the 2015 iteration of the Dodgers really fell off the cliff with just 59 steals on 93 attempts (63%) – the total bases and success rate both ranking 26th in the league. The Nationals are primed to reap the benefits of Lopes’ baserunning wisdom. Their 204 attempts the last two seasons are good for 27th in the league, though they have been rather efficient with a 77% success rate (tied for 4th).

A lot of that was built on a 2014 that saw them steal at an 81% clip with 101 SBs (tied for 12th). Health played a big role as Denard Span (31, 82%) and Anthony Rendon (17, 85%) were major factors. Ian Desmond (24, 83%) was great as well and while he was healthy in 2015 – or at least playing which signifies some measure of health – he only stole 13 bases on a 72% success rate. Span and Desmond are gone, but this team has plenty of potential beneficiaries including Rendon.

Let’s just go down the projected lineup and find the guys who could see a Lopes-induced boost:

Ben Revere – He is already a proficient base thief (four 30+ SB seasons, two 40+; 82% success), but ran into a bit of a red light after being traded to Toronto. If Lopes has anything that can actually improve Revere, then we could see the first 70-SB season since Jacoby Ellsbury landed right on the number in 2009. By the way, Revere wasn’t with Philly during the Lopes era.

New Top-50 Picks, Part 3

Part 3 of 3. If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, you can check those out. The idea here is that we’re looking at guys who have entered the overall top-50 this year and then identifying a comparable player who could make a similar leap.

Chris Archer [TB, SP]

  • 2015 ADP: 159
  • 2016 ADP: 47
  • Difference: 112

I’ve always liked Archer. His talent is undeniable and it was on full display last season.  My concerns were always injury-related as he had two strong precursors: major velo (95+ MPH fastball) and heavy slider usage (34% career, 39% last year). That didn’t stop me from investing, though, as I’ve always been willing to bet on premium skills even with health risk. And in fairness to Archer, he was only carrying precursors. He’s never been on the DL in the majors.

New Top-50 Picks, Part 2

Continuing the series started yesterday identifying the biggest jumpers into the top-50 with some potential ADP comps who could something in similar in 2016:

Dallas Keuchel [HOU, SP]

  • 2015 ADP: 194
  • 2016 ADP: 41
  • Difference: 153

Keuchel actually broke out in 2014, but nobody really bought it. I mean, I guess some were in on him. I’ll backpat a little bit and say that the 2015 SP Guide was optimistic on him:

It all looks sustainable for Keuchel, again probably not at the sub-3.00 level, but anything in the low-3.00s will return a firm profit as the early drafts haven’t put much of a tax on his 2014 season. Granted, he was free last year, but he has only jumped up to a 17th round pick on average. In fact, that’s exactly where he went in the LABR Mixed draft as Ray Murphy from BaseballHQ snapped him up with pick 249, matching his 248.8 position in NFBC leagues so far. At that price, he has plenty of wiggle room in case he doesn’t carry everything over from 2014, but I’m buying with ease.

OK, OK, I can hear you now, “Chill out, Paul, it’s not like you said he’d improve every facet of his game and win the AL Cy Young!” The skepticism with Keuchel was somewhat understandable. He was a non-prospect who broke out at age-26 after 239 IP of 5.20 ERA in the majors. He also didn’t succeed with the weapon of choice in today’s game: strikeouts.

New Top-50 Picks, Part 1

Yesterday was the final day of the regular season in football which marks something an unofficial start for fantasy baseball. I think the official start is the minute the Super Bowl ends, but with Week 17 wrapped up there is no more fantasy football (and you really shouldn’t even be using Week 17 if I’m being honest, but now’s not the time for that) and so those who have had a few months away from the diamond are starting to trickle back over to it.

To help with the transition back into baseball, I’m looking at the six biggest movers into the top-50 this week and also speculating on some guys who could emulate their jump in 2016. In other words, I’m not always looking for direct comps for these six newcomers (two-a-day through Wednesday), but rather guys being drafted in the same area this year who could make a similar leap. That might also be unclear, especially because it really only ties to the first guy on the list, but you’ll see… let’s just start.

By the way, the pool of players is those who had an average draft position (ADP) of 345 or better last year. That threshold marks 23 rounds for a 15-team draft, so if you didn’t have an ADP in that range, you weren’t really on the radar coming into the season (So no Carlos Correa or Kyle Schwarber).