It’s been seven years since we last saw Jason Voorhees stalk and slaughter in a Friday the 13th movie. As we all know, it’s impossible to kill him, so it only makes sense that he may have reincarnated in the form of Jason Vargas (57.6% owned; +54.5%), the Kansas City Royals pitcher. In 13 2/3 innings, Vargas has an ERA of 0.66, a K/9 of 9.22, and a SwStr% of 13.1%. Those numbers would be akin to the other Jason wielding an AR-15 and mowing down his slow-running prey. Let’s delve into the KC iteration of Jason and see if anything can get unmasked. Vargas has been in the major leagues since 2005. Prior to this season, he never had a K/9 over 6.54 and a SwStr% over 9.2% (2016 was 10.1% but he only pitched 12 innings). There has been no velocity uptick, as the fastball remains in the 87 mph range. So, what can we attribute this early success to? Early in his career, Vargas was primarily a fastball, sinker, and change pitcher. In 2015, he really started to incorporate the curveball. This is when he started throwing the four-seam fastball more and sinker less. So far in 2017, he’s decreased usage of the four-seam fastball, increased the sinker usage while still throwing the curveball and changeup.
Here are the percentages of pitches thrown this season: fastball (24.9%), sinker (28.7%), curveball (16.8%), and changeup (28.1%). That’s a nice distribution, as it keeps the hitters honest and off-balance. The batted ball data is very encouraging. The GB/FB is 1.89, the highest of his career by a substantial margin. Previously, he had only eclipsed the 1.00 mark twice and those two years were at 1.04 and 1.02. This has contributed to a 20.6% soft contact rate and 26.5% hard contact rate, both very good. The one stat I really like is the 1.32 BB/9. He’s not going to beat himself and will make the opposition earn it. Now, going forward, the ERA is going to come up but the xFIP is at 2.34 so….The BABIP is .294 which is fine, but the LOB% is 91.7%. Vargas is not going to continue to mow down opposing batters, but he’s going to be a pretty good fantasy asset. TREASURE
(DISCLAIMER: I’m writing this before his start on Wednesday night, so whatever happens happens. I am streaming him in all my RCL leagues where he was available, so if he gets smoked then I will be performing seppuku tonight).
Here are a few other players that have caught my eye in terms of added/dropped percentages:
Byron Buxton: 34.8% owned; -17.5% change
Buxton has one RBI and one stolen base in 50 plate appearances. For you hoop fans, remember Harold Miner aka Baby Jordan? Dude could jump like 6 feet in the air and run like a gazelle. Unfortunately, he had issues shooting, dribbling, playing defense, and just understanding the intricacies of the game. Tough to make a living playing basketball when you can’t do those things. That’s who Buxton reminds me of. His defense is great, but he can’t hit. That’s a problem for someone trying to make a living playing baseball. In three years in the majors, the SwStr% has increased from 13.5% to 15% to 20.4%. That ties in with the contact rates going from 70.4% to 67.9% to 60.8%. You’re going the wrong way Byron!!! He’s striking out 46% of the time. Danny Espinosa just texted him and said, Yo, mang. You’s got to chill out homie. Since 1871, Buxton has the highest K% for a season all-time. Ok, small sample size but still. I commend the 35% of the people that still own him. Faith is strong with you. TRASH.
I was going to write about a few others, but I’m depressed now after writing the above on Byron Buxton. Plus, I need to sharpen my knives ahead of tonight’s Jason Vargas start. See you guys next week. If you don’t hear from me, no need to call 911. I’ll already be dead.