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6/16/1981 (35 y, 8 m, 7 d)
2002 June Amateur Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 12, Overall: 12, Team: Anaheim Angels
$0.2M / 1 Years (2015)
Saunders was released but re-signed with the Mariners on a new minor league deal Tuesday, the Tacoma News Tribune reports. (4/1/2015)
AL Starting Pitcher Velocity Changes
Mike Podhorzer (RotoGraphs)
How To Shop In the Non-Tender Market... Successful»
Eno Sarris (FanGraphs)
Is it Safe to Joe Saunders or Henderson Alvarez Yo»
Michael Barr (RotoGraphs)
Stream, Stream, Stream: 2x SP 4.8-4.14
Brandon Warne (RotoGraphs)
Season on the Line, Joe Saunders on the Mound?
Dave Cameron (FanGraphs)
(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
After returning from a brief stint on the disabled list due to shoulder tightness, Saunders finished the year with a flourish. In his final eight starts he was 7-0 with a 2.55 ERA. The home-run problems which plagued him in the middle of the season were largely cured, as he allowed just five homers over 49.1 innings. Even his K/BB ratios were better, as he finished the year with a 29/13 mark, considerably above his 1.58 ratio for the entire season. Saunders’ fantastic finish bookended his nice start to the season. At the end of May he was 6-3 with a 3.26 ERA. But in 14 starts during the middle of the year, Saunders had a 7.05 ERA and allowed 98 hits – including 16 homers – in 75.1 innings. On the whole, Saunders finished with a 4.60 ERA, more than a run higher than the previous season. Still, he finished with 16 wins, tying him for the team lead with Jered Weaver.
The Year Ahead:
Were the results in the middle of the season regression finally catching up to him or simply the result of Saunders pitching through an injury? His FIP was 95 points higher than his ERA in 2008 and 57 points above in 2009. But all Saunders does is win. His 48-22 record gives him a lifetime .686 winning percentage, the fourth-best mark among active pitchers with at least 50 decisions. Saunders historically does a good job of stranding runners on base and limiting the gopher ball, which is why FIP thinks he should be much worse than he is. Normally with a pitcher like this we would scream regression, because the end results exceed the peripherals. Saunders may be the exception that proves the rule. He is never going to be a great strikeout pitcher. But in any league that counts wins, he’s a valuable hurler. He should also improve his ERA as his home-run rates regress downward to career norms. Saunders had a 1.40 HR/9 last year due to his trouble in the middle of the year. In the three previous seasons, his rates were all below 1.00. (Brian Joura)
Much was made of interim GM Jerry DiPoto's comments after he acquired Saunders as part of a package for Dan Haren, but that tends to happen when you cite a pitcher's winning percentage as his best trait. Saunders is a proven commodity, a surefire bet of mediocrity that will you give innings and not much else. He's struck out just 442 batters in 774.2 career innings (5.14 K/9), and his reputation as a ground-ball machine isn't much more than a fallacy. Saunders has generated just shy of 46% grounders over the last three years, a decent amount but not really enough to sustain such a low strikeout rake. To make matters worse, when Saunders misses his spots he tends to miss up in the zone. That's resulted in quite a few homers allowed (1.10 HR/9 career), a problem that will only be more exacerbated as he spends more time in Chase Field. With an established performance level around 4.60 FIP, Saunders has little fantasy value unless he starts missing more bats or falls into some great run support and steals some wins. (Mike Axisa)
The Quick Opinion:
As a starter that allows a tad too many baserunners without many strikeouts, Saunders is one to avoid in 2011. Playing on a team not quite ready to contend doesn't help matters either.
The fantasy value of Joe Saunders is very limited. In 2011, he was able to post a 3.69 ERA with 12 wins. His FIP (4.78) and xFIP (4.38) showed that he was a little lucky. This difference can also be seen by his .271 batting average on balls in play which was 18 points lower than his career value of .289. The lower number of hits helped him to a career low strand rate (78%) and a decent WHIP (1.31). Joe will always rely on his defense with a ~4.5 strikeout rate. His strikeout rate is down from his 2008 six per nine level because he lost 1.5 MPH off of his fastball since that season. Since Arizona is a good defensive team in the National League, that helps. Unfortunately, he's probably the fifth starter now and will get skipped, lowering his ability to eat innings -- his best asset. (Jeff Zimmerman)
The Quick Opinion:
Saunders has limited upside. His value is maximized on a good defensive team in a home-run suppressing park. At least Arizona has one of those things.
You know what? Joe Saunders wasn’t bad in 2012. His 4.08 FIP and 4.25 xFIP were the lowest of his career, and his strikeout rate jumped from 4.58 to 5.77, the third-highest of his career. Currently a free agent, it’s best to be honest with yourself about him anyway: if anything, he’s filling out the back of your rotation, especially in deeper leagues, or you’re picking him up for a spot start here and there. He’s not going to strike a lot of batters out -- he’s just not that type of guy -- and getting to 90 miles per hour on his fastball isn’t as easy as it used to be. But on the right team, in the right ballpark, he can give you innings, and, well, there’s not a whole lot wrong with that. (Navin Vaswani)
The Quick Opinion:
Joe Saunders put together a rather tidy 2012 season, and while he’s getting a bit older, and his fastball a bit slower, he can still give you innings. And every now and then, you need innings. That’s life. There’s limited fantasy value here, but, especially in deeper leagues, beggars can’t always be choosers.
Joe Saunders hasn’t been an useful fantasy pitcher since 2008, and that’s mostly because he somehow managed to win 17 games for the Angels. Saunders posted an ERA over 5.00 while getting to pitch in Seattle half the time, so you can imagine just how fun he was to watch last year. If Saunders ends up grabbing a major league rotation spot, you should run very far away. As fast as your internet legs will take you. (Zach Sanders)
The Quick Opinion:
Joe Saunders was bad while getting to pitch in Seattle half the time last season, so think about that and re-evaluate the choices that brought you to this capsule.
There hasn't been a peep of news surrounding Saunders all offseason, meaning he's finally reached that point no one ever wants to reach: not even the Rockies, Twins or Phillies are interested. At 33, he may be done, especially if his 2014 performance was any indication.
The Quick Opinion:
Saunders hasn't done anything worthwhile since 2012, and remains an extreme longshot to ever again. Stay away.
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Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2017 3:34 AM ET
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