Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball: Revisiting SP Leap Forward Predictions -- Part 1

Last February, I named 10 pitchers who finished 2012 as fantasy spot starters that I felt were ready to become full time guys for your fantasy rotations. Now that the season is over and we’re looking forward to 2013, it’s time to do some re-visiting.

Today, we’re going to look back and see just how I did with the first five guys.

 

Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

  • What Happened?
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012208206-5216813-103.681.240
2013209181-5419911-123.491.124

Starting off with a pretty good prediction, here. Despite pitching in one of the tougher parks in baseball, Homer Bailey found a way to put up good numbers again in 2013. He narrowly missed a perfect game, but settled for his second no-hitter in less than one calender year. The Reds didn’t support him that well so unfortunately, Bailey couldn’t get into the 15-20 win level, but as you can see, he was better across the board in 2013 than he was in 2012.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

Bailey’s done nothing but improve over the last several seasons, and 2014 is only his Age 28 season. It may be a bit much to think that he’ll be a Top-10 fantasy pitcher in 2014, but he should well be a Tier-2 or Tier-3 guy that could absolutely be the best pitcher on a fantasy champion’s team.

 

Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals 

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
201270.148-29873-02.431.095
2013135.1169-581148-115.321.677

While Wade Davis wasn’t my only miss here, he was probably the biggest one. After a great season pitching in the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen in 2012, I thought that being a starter in Kansas City would be a good move for him. I was wrong. Hopefully anyone that took my advice and rostered him early in the season gave up on that plan quickly.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

As bad as 2013 was, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t considering Davis to be on my team in 2014, under one condition. He has to be a reliever and only a reliever. Not sold? Check out the career splits. 

Split
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
Starter513.2554-19236131-324.571.452
Reliever80.151-33945-12.241.046
As a reliever, I’d gladly roster him and try for some good MRI value. As a starter? Davis may only be 28, but no way. Find the 150-200 innings elsewhere.

 

Scott Diamond, Minnesota Twins

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012173184-319012-93.541.243
2013131163-36526-135.431.519

Well, Scott Diamond wasn’t much better than Davis, was he? Actually, this was a disaster season in pretty much every way. Diamond had a great walk rate, but still averaged less than 89 mph on the fastball (per Fangraphs) and without some killer breaking stuff, you just can’t hit the big part of the plate. Diamond had similar line drive rates in 2012 and 2013, but allowed far more fly balls and homers. Throw that on top of injuries and pitching for a bad team, and 2013 was an all-around lousy season.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

Diamond can be a good spot guy, but I don’t see him being much better than that, even if he puts up 2012 numbers again. His strikeout rates are just terrible and even with a good walk rate, he’ll always allow more than a hit an inning. Right now, the depth chart from the Twins website has Diamond as the sixth starter on the team, and that pitching staff doesn’t exactly resemble the 1990′s Braves rotation. This is only Diamond’s Age 27 season but his future as a fantasy pitcher is almost non-existent. FYI: I hope I’m wrong. Why? Because I was born exactly one year before Diamond, and us July 30 birthdays have to stick together.

 

Jason Hammel, Baltimore Orioles

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012118104-421138-63.431.237
2013139.1155-48967-84.971.457

Unfortunately, I looked at the season Jason Hammel had in 2012 as a good one with potential to be built upon. Unfortunately, it’s probably just the absolute best we can really hope for from him, and we should expect more 2013′s.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

I’ve made this point about Hammel before, but he’s spent his entire career in two places not made for pitchers.

  • The American League East
  • Coors Field

Now, he may have found a way out of those places, so things should be looking up, right. Yes, if he goes to a pitcher’s park, that is. but I don’t think he’ll ever be better than he was in 2012, and it would be surprising if he was anywhere near a strikeout an inning again, given that his career average is 6.5 per 9.

Hammel can be a more productive pitcher, but I’m not seeing any fantasy value there.

 

Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

  • What Happened? 
Season
IP
H-BB
K
W-L
ERA
WHIP
2012125.1117-431019-53.161.277
2013219.2179-4218514-62.661.006

I definitely ate humble pie on the last three, but I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for hitting on Hisashi Iwakuma. While I certainly thought he’d do well, I never thought a third place in AL Cy Young voting was in the cards but according to voters, only Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish were better. Sometimes all that you can do is step back and say wow. That’s what I’m doing here. Wow.

  • How Does 2014 Look?

My first inclination was to say that we’re going to see a regression. It’s pretty natural for a guy who will turn 33 in April, right? Well, yeah, but then I looked at his numbers since 2008, starting in Japan and all of a sudden, I’m not as convinced. 

Hisashi Iwakuma 2008-2013

Season
IP
H-BB
ER
K (K/9)
W-L
ERA
WHIP
Total1035.2926-219307809 (7.0)73-372.671.106
2008 (Japan)201.2161-3642159 (7.1)21-41.870.977
2009 (Japan)169179-4361121 (6.4)13-63.251.314
2010 (Japan)201184-3663153 (6.9)10-92.821.095
2011 (Japan)119106-193290 (6.8)6-72.421.050
2012 (Seattle)125.1117-4344101 (7.3)9-53.161.277
2013 (Seattle)219.2179-4265185 (7.6)14-62.661.006
Maybe we can expect a slight regression in strikeouts, although I believe that hitters in Japan focus a lot more on contact than MLB hitters do, so the uptick makes sense.

You probably noticed that he only hit 200 innings three times in those six years, and only seriously approached it one other time. So, the concern is obviously that he won’t get as many innings and certainly as he gets older, that concern becomes more valid. But look at those six seasons again. Now remember that Safeco Field is still a good place to pitch and that the Mariners should (in theory) be an improved team.

We should be looking at one of baseball, and fantasy baseball’s best arms for at least 2014.

Tags: Hisashi Iwakuma Homer Bailey Jason Hammel Scott Diamond Sleepers Starting Pitchers Wade Davis

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