I’ve seen some ‘smarter’ players drafting Michael Pineda way too high. Like in the top 110 overall. I don’t care that he had the third highest xFIP last year and the 8th best xFIP in 2015. I mean, I do care about it, that’s why I’m highlighting him, but I don’t care top 110 overall care. I’m operating a little without a safety net with the sleepers by not having a strong idea of where guys will be drafted. I’m merely guessing where guys will be drafted, and I’d bet Pineda will go undrafted in a lot of shallower mixed leagues or after 200 overall in most other leagues. At that price, he’s a sleeper and I’m interested in his xFIP. For noobs, xFIP is essentially ERA while removing defense, luck, sequencing and normalizes for homers. All of those should be self-explanatory except for maybe sequencing. That means a guy that gives up a single, gets two outs, allows a home run and gets the third out is the same as a pitcher that gives up a home run, a single and then gets three outs, even though the 1st pitcher gave up two runs and the 2nd pitcher gave up one run with the exact same hitter results — a single, a home run and three outs, just in a different order. All things being equal, a pitcher should be his xFIP self. It doesn’t work like that for various reasons, but it’s a baseline. Not quite the same as Humpty Hump’s bass line. That’s dooooree-doooorit-dooooree-doooorit. Ricky Nolasco made a career out of frustrating fantasy owners by never returning ERA bottles for his xFIP deposits. Honestly, if it was just xFIP for Pineda, I wouldn’t even be writing this post, but it’s not, and with that…So, what can we expect from Michael Pineda for 2017 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
He has sub-3.00 ERA stuff in a tough division. I don’t throw that around willy nor nilly. I like him better than AL Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello. Pineda’s average fastball velocity was 92.8 MPH in 2015, last year it was 94.1 MPH. I love that. Doode’s upping his velocity and it was already smoke. He had the 5th best swinging strike rate with 14.1%. Just above him was the best in the majors: Kershaw, Scherzer, Syndergaard and Jo-Fer (RIP). Syndergaard and Jo-Fer were only barely better with a 14.2%. This means 14.1% of strikes that Pineda threw were swung at and missed. The best in the majors Scherzer and Kershaw were tied at 15.3%. Can you think of a better stat of dominance? A guy is throwing strikes and the hitter swings and misses 14% of the time. That’s crazy. Who do you think is also nasty? Chris Sale? He was only at 11.3%. Carrasco and Kluber were down at 12%. Pedro Martinez had a 2.23 ERA in 2003 and only had a 14.1%. Okay, point made. Last year, Pineda threw a 2.7 BB/9. Not great. Not death, but he’s been better. In 2015, he had a 1.2 BB/9. If he approaches that again with his newfound 10.6 K/9, Pineda will have a 2.50-ish ERA. His control wasn’t great. His Hard Contact Rate had issues too. Something wasn’t computing. He was throwing pitches that no one could touch, then, on other occasions, he was allowing some of the hardest contact in the majors. I’m going to guess this had more to do with game plans and immaturity than his stuff. Also, due to his xFIP, this won’t surprise anyone, Pineda was crazy unlucky with homers and BABIP. If you give up hard contact, a BABIP is going to be a problem. Difficult to get around that, but his Ks and contact rates show he shouldn’t give up that hard contact. He’s 27 years old and needs to throw less and pitch more. He doesn’t come without risk, but he could be a top 15 pitcher in all fantasy with very little adjustment. For 2017, I’ll give him the projections of 12-7/3.46/1.16/214 in 195 IP with huge upside from there.