Welp. Everything was going perfectly according to the preseason plan. An entire finding aces preview series, a delightful set of early top 100 rankings, and then a final updated Top 100 starters list to be released today for the final 10 days of draft season. Things changed, and they changed quickly. As we don’t have any semblance of an idea when the season will start after the suspension due to COVID-19, it isn’t prudent to provide any sort of updated rankings at this point. Therefore, I’m going to provide weekly digestible pitcher profiles while we remain in limbo. Hopefully, we all do our part to contribute to the easing of the effectiveness of this disease for the greater good and baseball is back soon. Until that point, I’ll be here weekly to touch on pitchers with discrepancies between my original top 100 ranking and their ADP.
Dylan Bundy – My Rank (as of 2/24/20): #58, NFBC ADP Rank (as of same date): #73
Bundy has shown an ability to be an innings accumulator over most of his career and coupled that over the last two campaigns with a 9+ K/9 and around a 3.0 BB/9. This is a somewhat rare combination in the back third of 12 team drafts. The problem with Dylan Bundy has always been the gopher ball and the lack of a competitive team around him. This lack of competitiveness has led to back to back single digit win count seasons. I’ll attack the home run issue, but to quantify the win count discrepancy between playing for a bad team versus playing for a competitive organization is a good place to start with my rankings boost.
In 2019, Dylan Bundy won 7 games. This provided him a -3.7 categorical value on Razzball’s 12 team player rater. Jacob Degrom won just 11 games in 2019. This provided him a 0.9 categorical value. I’m not going to bother Rudy on Sunday morning to discuss specifics in terms of overall final value, but I’m willing to estimate that an extra 4 wins would’ve taken Bundy from a negative player value for the entire season to approximately a neutral value. This would make him a top 75 pitcher in 12 team leagues even with the horrid ratios from 2019. Simply by playing for a competitive organization Bundy earns a bump. It deserves to be stated that wins are fickle, and I recognize that playing on a good team doesn’t necessarily mean they will be accumulated, but it certainly helps.
Those horrid ratios may be on track to improve as well. Bundy is going to a get slight park upgrade in terms of HR factor. Though, it is more notable that he is getting out of a division that in my opinion that is far less competitive offensively than what has been the career norm for Bundy. There is no debating that the AL West remains just as capable of knocking the ball out of the ballpark as the AL East, but these offenses offer less length within the lineup than most AL East teams have deployed over the past 3 years, sans the Houston Astros. Bundy holds a career ERA that is 0.35 lower against teams with records below .500 than teams above .500. This is to be expected, but Bundy is going to get a few additional positive matchups on a monthly basis by playing the lowly Mariners and Rangers. Furthermore, Bundy has underperformed his expected slugging statistics by a wide measure over the past two seasons. In 2019 alone, his expected slugging percentage was .406, but he allowed a .462 slugging percentage. While his career expected slugging percentage is .428 with a career .463 actual result. The regression for Bundy to just his career expected results would yield a yearlong roster worthy pitcher in 12s. The only season in his career he met those figures resulted with a 4.2 ERA and 1.20 WHIP (2017).
Bundy holds multiple competitive off-speed pitches in his arsenal. His slider has been above average for each of the past 3 seasons. His changeup improved year over year. The problem pitch for Bundy is a lowering velocity on his fastball. He needs to get a slight bump back up to the 92 MPH range. This should be the main component to watch when spring training resumes. The only data on Jeff Zimmerman’s velocity tracker from spring training part one was a 90 MPH fastball reported from his first outing. Owners should be careful with using the raw velocity data on Bundy as he has incorporated a sinker into his arsenal over the past two seasons, which naturally will cause the average fastball velocity when the two pitches are combined to show a deeper downward trend. He must throw harder to hit his ceiling, but not much harder. Keep in mind, Bundy has done this before early in his career and he remains young at 27 years old. The Angels made it a priority to obtain Bundy, which gives me some level of confidence that they are attempting to tweak either his arsenal, how he deploys it, or make him less of an innings eater with more early bullpen support allowing him to throw harder over less pitches.
Zack Wheeler finished 2019 as a fringe SP3 with a line of 11/195/3.96/1.26. This is probably the ceiling for Bundy, but even with slightly higher ratios he can be a useful player at the back end of a pitching staff. He has more value in the deeper formats that I typically play, but even in regular 12 teamers Bundy has a draft cost that is droppable coupled with a higher ceiling than people give him credit for. This is analysis is a combination of improving environment, regression to expected stats, sprinkling in some pure speculation, but when you put fantasy baseball down to the foundational level of analyzing a player that is typically the combination you are looking for. My projection for Dylan Bundy in 2020 is 11/180/4.1/1.27 in 175 IP for a finish slightly better than, but comparable to Steven Matz’s 2019 with bonus strikeouts.