It's easy to fall in love with Jesse Hahn.
In 14 appearances (12 starts) with the Padres last season, Hahn went 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 70:32 K:BB over 73.1 innings. Using a devastating 12-to-6 curveball to complement his low-90s fastball, Hahn routinely breezed through major league lineups after his early-June promotion, allowing one run or fewer in six of his first nine starts for the big club. He wasn't as sharp in his final five appearances (5.95 ERA), but his struggles can likely be attributed at least in part to fatigue. Hahn tossed 115.2 total innings between the minors and majors last season after maxing out at 69 frames the year before.
The right-hander 25-year-old also throws a slider and a changeup, though he used both sparingly at the major league level last season. It's not on par with his curveball, but I think Hahn's changeup has potential. Check it out for yourself in the video below. He throws it back-to-back starting at the 0:37 mark.
But how do we value Hahn, realistically, heading into 2015? I recently submitted my initial top 350 for the upcoming season, which will be compiled into the RotoWire Roundtable composite rankings for the site. Jeff Erickson, Derek VanRiper, James Anderson and Michael Rusignola have submitted their 350s for the Roundtable as well. Hahn checked in at number 234 overall on my rankings, 72 spots higher than Jeff has him. He is my 57th ranked starting pitcher, meaning I see his as a high-end SP4 in 15-team leagues.
As much as I like Hahn, I can easily see the argument against having him as high as I do. Talent aside, he is unlikely to exceed 150 innings for the A's this season. He could also be an injury risk if you subscribe to the Verducci Effect (you really shouldn't), after seeing a 46.1-inning spike in workload from 2013 to 2014. Let's take a look at our projection for Hahn this season, as well as those from a couple other projection systems:
RotoWire projection: 8-7 record, 3.45 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 128 strikeouts, 44 walks in 128 innings (24 starts)
Steamer projection: 9-9 record, 4.34 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 112 strikeouts, 58 walks in 144 innings (25 starts)
Fans projection: 10-8 record, 3.54 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 140 strikeouts, 52 walks in 148 innings (26 starts)
The Fans projection is the most appealing for fantasy purposes, simply because they project him for 20 more innings than we do. Steamer seems to be really down on Hahn's 2015 potential, with their system estimating he'll average just 7.0 K/9 after averaging 8.6 K/9 last season. It's possible his strikeout rate could fall with an increased workload, but I don't see it falling that much. I agree that he will regress in the ratio categories (3.59 xFIP last season), but not nearly to that extent. A 127-point jump in ERA and a 17-point jump in WHIP seems overly pessimistic. Meanwhile, our 128-inning estimate seems like a floor to me, but I think the estimates in the other statistics are pretty spot on. If Hahn were to you give you even 140 innings of those numbers, he'd be very useful.
Perhaps I should temper my expectations for 2015, but just based on upside, I think Hahn warrants a top-250 pick in most drafts. I'm more so excited about Hahn in 2016 and 2017, but the talent is there for Hahn to become a fantasy darling this season.
Notes from Thursday:
Garrett Richards seems to be making exceptional progress from his late-August knee surgery. The right-hander received clearance to return to mound work Thursday and is expected to actually return to a mound Monday, three days before the team's other pitchers and catchers report to spring training. He just began running on his full body weight earlier this week. While Richards is roughly a month behind the Angels' other starters, he is still hoping to be ready for Opening Day, which has been his goal since Day 1. The team may very well pump the brakes and limit Richards throughout most of spring training, but they have acknowledged that they do expect him back sometime in April. His stock figures to rise significantly in the weeks ahead, but there's significant profit to be had at his current price (NFBC ADP: 169.10).
Braves fans have another reason to hang their heads, as the team announced Thursday that promising right-handed reliever Shae Simmons was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. Simmons was dominant after his late-May promotion before shoulder woes cut his season short, and he appeared primed to compete for the setup role in spring training. While his shoulder seemed to be progressing, Simmons' elbow reportedly started barking 10 days or so ago, which explains the team's signings recent signings of Jose Veras, Todd Coffey and Matt Capps. His 2015 season is lost, but if Simmons can regain his velocity after the procedure – he averaged 94.9 mph on his fastball last season – and continue missing bats upon his return, Simmons could prove to be the eventual successor to Craig Kimbrel in Atlanta.
Rickie Weeks inked a one-year, $2 million contract with the Mariners late Wednesday night. After infamously refusing to play left field for the Brewers last season, Weeks will now be forced to get acclimated to the corners with his new team. Although he didn't come close to living up to his $11 million price tag last season, Weeks finished with a .865 OPS against left-handed pitching and a .938 OPS after the All-Star break. If he can get up to speed in left in a hurry, Weeks could work his way into a short-end platoon role alongside Dustin Ackley. While that role wouldn't be especially enticing in season-long mixed leagues, Weeks could end up making for a nice streaming option in AL-only and daily formats.