Today we take a look at the next five rounds of the early RotoGraphs mock draft. As usual, I have pulled out the American League starting pitchers selected in these rounds and compared their spots with where each was taken during last year’s mock. This is easily the largest group yet, are you as excited as I am? Let’s take a gander.
The move to Kansas City likely hurt Shields’ value a bit in this draft. Though his ratios shouldn’t change much, his run support will probably suffer. Even though wins are difficult to project, you still have to take the team’s offense into account. That said, I think he’s a nice value here. I feel like most fantasy owners still don’t fully believe that Shields is for real. If that ground ball rate spikes, even better.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest losers is Jon Lester. Nothing went his way, as his strikeout rate dropped over a full point and he was on the wrong side of all three luck metrics. However, his fastball velocity, SwStk% and Contact% all remained virtually identical to his 2011 season. I’m willing to give him a mulligan for last year and think he offers excellent profit potential.
I’m not a fan of the Matt Harrison selection at all. To be honest, I would not even draft him in the last round. There are too many other pitchers with higher strikeout rates who could potentially breakout to bother with Harrison. I just don’t trust guys who happened to beat their SIERA marks two years in a row. He’s a decent enough real baseball pitcher, but not someone worth targeting in fantasy.
Brandon Morrow has a lucky half-season breakout and his draft value surges. Did you know that his SIERA was actually 3.91 last season versus 3.31 the previous two? The dramatic decline in strikeout rate had a lot to do with that difference. His fastball velocity was down, which probably had the domino effect of decreasing his SwStk% as well. I’ve been a fan of Morrow for years, but given the faux breakout and increased draft cost, I won’t be owning him in any leagues this year.
I love Brett Anderson. I’ve been a fan since he was still a minor leaguer, but I was rooting against him when he returned from TJ surgery last year to keep his draft cost down! Amazingly, his skills were top notch, he suffered no control issues and his velocity was fine. I prefer him much more than Harrison and Morrow taken just before him.
Josh Johnson‘s draft stock declined a smidge from last year as he moves into the American League. His fastball velocity was down a mile per hour last season and now he moves to the tougher league and calls a hitter’s park home. Oh, and he’s not exactly Mr. Iron Man. I don’t think he was particularly overvalued at this point, but I would not be very comfortable drafting him that early.
Naturally, Anibal Sanchez‘s strikeout rate declined after his move to Detroit. However, his fastball velocity jumped more than a mile per hour, which was a nice surprise. Whether it was just a small sample fluke or the result of mechanical tinkering, it would be big if he could maintain that increased velocity this year. Hopefully the Tigers defense doesn’t let him down too often.
Hmmm, not only did Doug Fister prove that 2011 was no fluke, but he actually pitched better last season according to SIERA. Interestingly, he couldn’t sustain the velocity spike he enjoyed in 2011, yet his SwStk% and strikeout rate jumped anyway. Less reliance on his fastball may have something to do with that. Fister has a solid bundle of skills and although I’d expect his strikeout rate to drop back a bit, he’s for real.
Along with Lester, C.J. Wilson was another big decliner. I’d love to take full credit for my pessimism last season, but Wilson ended up undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow. So, it would be fair to assume it bothered him for at least some of the year and contributed to his disappointing performance and increased walk rate over 2011. At this price, he’s not a bad gamble for a bounce back campaign, especially since he should be fully recovered from the injury by the time the season rolls around.
Please explain: Jeremy Hellickson‘s ERA rises from 2.95 to 3.10, WHIP from 1.15 to a still respectable 1.25, and strikeout rate jumps, yet he falls 80 spots in draft value? I don’t get it. Now of course, this being a saber-friendly site, we know all about Hellickson’s magical ERA estimator beating abilities. And so we’re naturally skeptical. But what changed from last year’s draft to this year’s that suddenly the RotoGraphs authors took that skepticism to a whole new level? I’m no fan myself, but there seems to be a heck of a lot more upside than downside at this cost, especially if those minor league strikeout rates suddenly return.