I was between writing a sleeper post for Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers. Not Lance McCullers Jr., he’s a bum. Kidding. At a certain age though, drop the Jr., junior. It’s like being a thirty-year-old Bobby. Put on your big boy pants, Bobby, and call yourself Robert! I’d even accept Rob. No freakin’ Robbie! Any hoo! I didn’t love everything I saw on Lance McCullers’s peripherals. Enough to like him at his current ADP? I think so, but it might be a game-time decision when I’m doing my rankings. Framber Valdez, how’sever, a chef’s kiss echoing through the caverns of your mind, which sounds like a Yacht Rock song, making it even more special. Special like the guy who opens the door at thirty seconds into this video. Yes, I could’ve just embedded right to that part, but you really need the lead-up to brace yourself for the door-opener. Oh my God, that guy is Jose Alvarado, i.e., The Opener.
Damn it, that will never get old. I want to read a 15,000 word essay about Jose Alvarado from the Benny Mardones video. “Skim read,” not read read, but still. So, what can we expect from Framber Valdez for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Psyche! Before we get into the Framber Valdez sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the Framber Valdez sleeper:
Framber Valdez’s stats over the last two years are so fun, I just gotta tell you. In 2019, he threw 70 2/3 IP with a 8.7 K/9, 5.6 BB/9 and 4.31 xFIP. Then in 2020, he threw, wait for it, oh my goodness, it’s so great, wait, where is it…*checks pockets, pulls up sleeves, finally, checks under top hat* There it is! He threw exactly 70 2/3 IP in 2020 too! (And if it’s in 2022 too or 20222, I’ll lose my mind.) Only this past year Framber Valdez started to put together the why and what we’re doing here: 9.7 K/9, 2 BB/9 and 2.94 xFIP. The big difference was the command. The worthwhile note is, after he settled into a new level of pro ball, this is his pattern. Framber has male pattern commandness. After he settles in, the command shows up.
His repertoire includes a sinker, curve and change. FanGraphs classifies his sinker as a fastball, but, with five inches of movement down, it’s likely better classified as a sinker. That movement was up (uh, down) two inches year over year, and gets kinda hit. It’s not the best pitch, but a bit better than league average. Similar to his change, in that respect. It doesn’t matter a ton, though, they’re meant to setup his curve, which is the pitch that carries his value from solid to dynamite. He had the 4th best curve last year, and only one of three with a positive on two other pitches, him, Shane Bieber and German Marquez. *sits up in chair, places hands under chin* Tell me more, pop-pop. As we all know (or should), Shane Bieber is a God, and German Marquez is a sexy em-effer if it wasn’t for Coors. To give you an idea of how important just a boring old ‘just above league average change or sinker’ is, Framber had a great curve in 2019, but his other pitches were terrible, so he wasn’t good. With just a little bit from the sinker and change, the curve will carry him to top 20 starter value.
Finally, this is all assuming he’s simply as good as last year, and doesn’t take yet another step. Remember, in Benny Mardones’s voice, “He was just 26 years old…” He’s flashed 10 and 11 K/9’s at different stops in the minors. If his sinker or change, just get a hair better, Framber Valdez is gonna be a top seven, if not top five starter. For 2021, I’ll give Framber Valdez projections of 12-9/3.39/1.09/181 in 168 IP with a chance for more.