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Baek-up plan

Cha Seung Baek may not win you any fantasy championships. But he could be an important part of a championship team.

Some people play in shallow leagues – I mean 10-team leagues, with players from both leagues and relatively few roster spots. However, many of you probably play in much deeper leagues – either you have many roster spots, or more than 10 teams, or you play in NL- or AL-only leagues (or all of the above). Therefore, I think it is important to talk about lesser-known players who may not be great, but may still be helpful. And Baek is the perfect example of such a player.

Baek’s primary selling point is that he pitches for the San Diego Padres. By default, most Padres pitchers are pretty good bets for fantasy purposes, simply because of their situation: they play half of their games in the best pitcher’s park in baseball, and they get to face weak NL West offenses in many of their starts. As long as you’re vigilant about benching a Padre starter anytime they’re pitching in Coors Field, chances are you can find some good deals in their rotation.

Baek was dealt to the Padres from the Seattle Mariners and posted a 4.62 ERA in 110 innings with his new team. Baek also had a K/BB ratio of 77/30 and allowed 12 homers.

On the surface, those are less-than-inspiring numbers, to be sure. However, Baek’s 4.06 FIP suggests that he may be on the verge of improving. Baek stranded only 67% of the runners who reached base – below league average. He also allowed homers on 9.9% of his fly balls– while this is approximately league average, it’s unlikely that this will rise, and may actually fall, thanks to spacious PETCO park.

Furthermore, Baek managed to get swinging strikes on 9% of his pitches this year – league average is just under 8% for starters. He threw balls 34.8% of the time – league average is 36.5%.

So we’re talking about a pitcher who throws fewer balls than average, gets more swinging strikes than average, and plays half of his game in a fantastic pitcher’s park (not to mention the fact that he plays in the weaker league and gets to face many weak offenses). While Cha Seung Baek probably won’t be a fantasy ace or a top-20 pitcher, he’s likely to be undervalued and an asset to your pitching staff, especially in deeper leagues.