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Early ADP Undervalued AL SPs

A couple of weeks ago, and probably way too early, I couldn’t help myself from taking a peek over at the average draft position values at Mock Draft Central. I then identified a bunch of pitchers I thought were overvalued. This time I will look at the opposite side of the ledger and take a gander at who appears to be undervalued. I used the AL-Only league ADP values so I could look deeper into the pitcher pool.

Matt Harrison– 54th AL SP selected

This was rather surprising. Harrison enjoyed a breakout season last year after having never posted an ERA better than 4.71 previously. If anything, I figured he would be overvalued for sure. So this is quite a shock to see his name behind Bruce Chen (!!!!) and Brian Matusz.

Now I am not much of a believer in extrapolating trends or think that a second half surge portends a breakout the following year. However, it is worth noting that although Harrison’s ERA was a bit higher in the final three months of the season, his skills actually spiked. His strikeout and ground ball rates both jumped and walk rate was almost cut in half. He had been a top prospect in the Braves system but arm injuries had curtailed his progress. I certainly don’t love him and his ERA is absolutely heading up this season. But it’s a crime that he is being drafted this late.

Philip Humber– 50th selected

Humber’s story is quite similar to Harrison’s, though he had gotten significantly fewer chances previously. What’s funny about Humber is how I can completely change my tune after the season ends. Over the first three months of the year, he posted a 2.89 ERA, which was obviously aided by great fortune, and I would have advised everyone to stay away. We all knew his ERA was set to pop at any point, and sure enough, it did in the final three months as it sat at 5.02 over that span.

However, what most probably don’t realize is that his peripherals were actually better, as his strikeout rate jumped by more than two points and his ground ball rate increased five percentage points. His overall season SIERA was below 4.00, and barely above his actual ERA. A great sign is that his SwStk% was a solid 9.1%, which suggests further upside in his strikeout rate. While his walk rate is more likely to regress, he has the ground ball rate to have continued success. I like him more than Harrison and he has no business being drafted after guys like Jason Vargas and Josh Tomlin.

A.J. Burnett– 33rd selected

Oh yes I did. The name that causes Yankees fans to scratch their faces off. And yes, I am aware that this is a man who hasn’t posted a sub-4.00 ERA since 2007. But hear me out. His strikeout and ground ball rates both rebounded. That strikeout rate should remain at that rebound level as his SwStk% crept back up to 10% once again.

Really, his second straight disastrous season can all be traced back to that pesky home run ball. A 17% HR/FB ratio, seriously? Strangely, he has experienced this before, as he posted a 17.7% mark back in 2007 (oddly, the last year his ERA was below 4.00). So what happened the following year? It dropped right back down to 9.6%, right around the league average. Last season his LD% was actually below the league average, so it’s hard to make an argument that he sucks so much, hitters are just making hard contact against him. For the price (being drafted after such luminaries as Luke Hochevar), it is hard not to like the risk/reward.