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Chris Sale is a monster. Before the season, Jay(Wrong) gathered and tallied the 2014 Official Razzball Picks. And I have to state, at this point, my choices are making me look stupid so far: ROY = Nick Castellanos; Sleeper = Justin Ruggiano; Come Back = Mitch Moreland (although he does still have an elite fly ball and home run average distance); Bust = Jose Bautista, not; MVPitcher = Danny Salazar (ugh).

One pick makes me still feel omniscient: Infatuation = Chris Sale.

Omniscience:

Whenever I watch Chris Sale pitch, it looks as though he’ll throw a no-hitter on that day. In fact, prior to the season, my ballsiest prediction was associated to Chris Sale. I said that he would throw 2.5 no-hitters: 2 full no hitters plus a rain-shortened one. Irrational? Two starts ago on 5/27, he threw 3 no-hit innings with 4 k’s. The game was shortened by rain. Two more darn innings and I would have been 0.5 no-hitters toward my 2.5 no-hitter projection! What did he do on short rest a game later?: 9 innings with only 2 hits (9K:0BB). What did he do the two games prior to the rain-shortened game:

5-22: 6 IP – 1 Hit – 10K – 0BB

4-17: 7 IP – 1 Hit – 10K – 3BB

Give me some credit. Dis shi cray.

Regression:

Using a 45 IP criteria and omitting Jose Fernandez (wa waaa), Chris Sale has the best K% in baseball right now, but chances are this drops off a bit since the Contact rate (16th) and Swinging Strike rate (15th) don’t thoroughly match up even though it’s approaching his 2011 career-best rates. As it relates, his BB% (5% as the 25th best rate) should also jump a bit, but he did sustain 5.3% last year.

He’s also a bit lucky in the BABIP department right now. You might think of it as being uber-lucky (.173 vs. a .279 career rate), but his stuff is dancing, his line drive rate dropped while the fly ball rate jumped. It’s on this last note where the other luck factor comes in. With an 11.3% homerun to flyball career ratio, he’s only at 5.3% right now. With the assumption these regress back to his career norms, we’re still looking at an elite 2.50 to 2.75 ERA vs. the 1.95 we see now. Buy high guy.

Here is the good news: “Pitch F/x-Master-Flex”

Chris Sale (with the assumption that he stays healthy as the constant caveat), has my favorite repertoire in the bigs – one pitch better than Matt Harvey from a ground ball induction perspective. He’s got a devastating fastball-changeup combo and mixes in a slider that induces an elite whiff-rate and a sinker that (at least in the past) induces a solid groundball rate.

According to Baseball Prospectus’ Pitch F/X leaderboard, here are Sale’s career and 2014 whiff/swing, velocity and ground ball to fly ball rates and ranks:

Fastball FB Whiff/Swing FB Velo GB/FB
All Years (’07-14) 19.47% (66th) 94.47 (42nd) 1.25 (134th)
2014 (200 P Min) 19.47% (26th) 94.47 (19th) 1.22 (58th)
Circle Change CH Whiff/Swing CH Velo GB/FB
All Years (’07-14) 34.91% (48th) 85.17 4.33 (10th)
2014 (200 P Min) 34.91% (13th) 85.17 (12th) 4.33 (9th)
Slider SL Whiff/Swing SL Velo GB/FB
All Years (’07-14) 38.9% (35th) 79.19 1.7 (111th)
2014 (100 P min) 41.51% (19th) 81.56 (68th) .4 (76th)
Sinker SI Whiff/Swing SI Velo GB/FB
All Years (’07-14) 11.61% (149th) 91.47 3.61 (45th)
2014 (50 P min) 9.09% (110th) 93.41 (31st) .5 (142nd)

So we’re not concerned about any of the velocities – he still has a top-20 fastball/changeup velocity and solid MPH differential.

The whiff rates are also elite – on all three pitches (FB, CH & SL) that require swing and miss. The Sinker is the only concern at this point in time, but as we can see from the past, chances are it will eventually induce more grounders. If it doesn’t (or in any case), it will also get hit for more homeruns. This pitch alone is causing much of the luck: .118 batting average against while it’s at .277 for his career. Boom, found it! Heck, maybe he knew the sinker was his worst pitch so now he ensures increased velocity on it, which would somewhat sustain its success. His other pitches are still cray.

 

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  1. ram says:
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    The thing about Sale is that his delivery is the complete opposite of fluid – how many different body parts are at risk to injury every time he goes out? One of those guys you love when you look at his stats and you watch him pitch and it is just strange. He is a lot better than Verlander and his fluid delivery this year!

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @ram: yeah, hence the “constant caveat.” Still he’s an utter ace.

  2. ram says:
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    just checked out the pre-season picks – The Guru knows what is going on. With a name like that, he should.

  3. ram says:
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    Abreu #79 hasn’t homered in 2 games. Should I trade him?

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @ram: ha. cray. while the 39% HR/FB ratio is crazy, he’s got the 2nd best homerun & flyball average distance after mike morse and above goldschmidt & cruz so obviously from that perspective he’s the real deal. he’s a monster. the .266 average doesnt kill anymore either with BA’s these days and it’s sustainable b/c of his .280 BABIP. Honestly, as he gains experience in the MLB he will lift the ball even more (only a 32+% Flyball rate thus far) meaning there’s the chance next year for 50 homers with health & exp. Just remember he’s already 27.

  4. Rez Baller says:
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    ROS…R. Elias or N.Evoaldi?

  5. Wadeboggs says:
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    Was offered Zobrist for my Hutchinson. In a vacuum I would take it especially with zobrists multi position eligibility but would like to hear your thoughts based upon whether it’s good
    For my team. I have hill and Wong rotating at 2b now. I have segura and alcides for SS. My remaining offense includes Pujols, Ramos, plouffe/arenado, Adam Jones, Bautista, Khris David, marte. My pitching is grey, Teheran, cobb, Chavez, Cashner, porcello. Thanks
    In advance

  6. Chris says:
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    Should I pick up Stroman to replace Jesse Chavez, Trevor Bauer or Yo Ventura. Or should I hold what I have. H2H Pts League.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Chris: i’d pick him up but is there someone else you can drop. id say pick him up before it’s too late and id drop jesse chavez of that group. nice young guns.

  7. E says:
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    Overcrowded outfield, what do I do? I have morse, pagan, kemp, gardner, and Jennings. Can’t move any to util.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @E: thanks for the util note…man – i would trade kemp and jennings for an upgrade. By name of these two you might actually get value back. gardner & pagan give you enough speed to trade dez + kemp. I know it will suck to trade Kemp, but he’s got issues: worst groundball rate of career which is driving/verifying that low BABIP & worst contact rates of career (excluding last year). Think a Kemp + Desmond can get you a Gomez or Moss?? Morse & Pagan aren’t beefy names but they’re both sure thing value when healthy so trade the names for more value.

  8. Mike

    Mike says:
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    Always learn a lot from these, Dano. Thanks

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Mike: thanks Mike! Sorry your Phillies suck almost as much as my Mets.

      • Mike

        Mike says:
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        womp womp

  9. Thoughts on starting Gasuman today? Stream-o-nater has none.

    • Dano

      dano says:
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      @Steve: “mm, he seems like a nice guy” – tommy boy. I wouldn’t based on the FB% against the A’s in Baltimore. I’m not a big daily guy though so i dont know the splits or anything like that, but i do know he’s a flyball pitcher right now and the cespedeses and mosses can romp him right now.

  10. Also, thanks Dano.

  11. Dano

    dano says:
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    Ha! Another 1 hitter so far (6.1)!!

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