Patrick Sandoval always makes me think of Patrick from SpongeBob crossed with Pablo Sandoval, so I’m inclined to like him immediately. How can you not love the visual of SpongeBob’s Patrick and Pablo Sandoval? Like Patrick with Pablo’s body. I am giggling right now just thinking of it. So, I found Patrick Sandoval for my 2022 fantasy baseball sleeper series after searching for xERA. First, like the dentist tells you, let’s check for caveats. xERA isn’t my favorite stat. If Patrick Sandoval only had that going for him, I might’ve ignored him, but there’s more to him, which I’ll get to. xERA is, well, here’s MLB’s definition:
Expected ERA, or xERA, is a simple 1:1 translation of Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA), converted to the ERA scale. xwOBA takes into account the amount of contact (strikeouts, walks, hit by pitch) and the quality of that contact (exit velocity and launch angle), in an attempt to credit the pitcher or hitter for the moment of contact, not for what might happen to that contact thanks to other factors like ballpark, weather, or defense.
By converting this to the ERA scale, it puts xwOBA in numbers that are more familiar, and allows it to be compared directly to the pitcher’s actual ERA. (If you’re familiar with FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, the idea is similar, just that now Statcast quality of contact can be included.)
xERA is not necessarily predictive, but if a pitcher has an xERA that is significantly higher than his actual ERA, it should make you want to take a closer look into how he suppressed those runs.
As you see, it’s pretty wishy-washy, even from the source. “Is not necessarily predictive.” Yeah, no kidding, but when you say it like that, you’re really pointing out how much you don’t trust it. Hilariously (which is the word I use when none of something is hilarious), Sandoval’s ERA (3.62) was basically the same as his xERA (3.57), on par with Robbie Ray, Pablo Lopez, Dylan Cease and Luis Castillo. Well, like I said, it’s merely one stat. Let’s get to the others. So, what can we expect from Patrick Sandoval for 2022 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Psyche! Before we get into the Patrick Sandoval sleeper post, just wanted to announce that I’ve finished my 2022 fantasy baseball rankings and they’re all available on our Patreon. Anyway II, the Patrick Sandoval sleeper:
Patrick Sandoval had the third best average exit velocity for starters, behind only Zack Wheeler and Ryan Yarbrough and in front of Corbin Burnes, Wade Miley and Julio Urias. Clearly, there’s some wonky names mixed in there with some aces. It’s a matter of whether we think Sandoval is more Wheeler than Yarbrough; more Burnes and Urias than Miley. Or the other scenario is Miley and Yarbrough are being thought of as not good, when they might be good. Well, not to go too far down that path, but Miley isn’t as bad as you think (11 seasons, 4.05 xFIP and that was in a lot of terrible parks) and Yarbrough had other issues last year. Yarbrough had a well-below average SwStr%, and Sandoval’s was 15.2%. That SwStr% was 12th best in the major leagues. On that SwStr% list, looking at 11 to 14: Lucas Giolito, Patrick Sandoval, Carlos Rodon and Dylan Cease. Yes, I checked to make sure I wasn’t accidentally sorting by only Angels and White Sox. Sandoval is in front of a lot of guys on that list (like 150-something), but a few key names he was better than: Gerrit Cole, Freddy Peralta, Snell, Ohtani, Alcantara and a shizzton of others. The top SwStr% is truly the cream rising, being skimmed off by surface area, and holding it to the sun with the shadow on the ground reading, “Yum.”
When sorting by Chase Rate, which Google defines as Chase Bank’s APR–Wait, that’s wrong. So, number of times Patrick Sandoval gets guys to go “Oopsie, that’s not a strike” was 34%. That’s 45th in the league. Of course, that’s above average, but if he can get that to 35%, we’ll be cooking with gas. Yes, the difference between him and an ace is one percentage of a point on his chase rate. Julio Urias was 35% and 12th in the league. 30-plus pitchers sit between them (this is all sorting by 80 IP, because that’s how many Sandoval had last year). Sandoval “only” had a 9.7 K/9, which is crazy for a guy with a a great chase rate and SwStr%. I mention this in the rankings (which are available now on Patreon), but someone should come up with an xK%. A formula that says how much a player’s strikeout rate should be. Like xERA for strikeouts. Regularly in the minors, Patrick Sandoval’s K/9 was way above 10 and reaching 14+ at times. Don’t want to get too crazy with myself, but Sandoval is being projected by Steamer has having a 9.15 K/9, and I’m thinking it might be better by a full strikeout per nine.
Being as good as Patrick Sandoval is back breaking work! Welp, that is one drawback, Patrick Sandoval ended his season early with a stress fracture in his back. Back injuries are scary since they can flare up at any time, but Sandoval will supposedly be fine for the start of the season. The other big drawback is his command is a little bleh at times. Last year, it was 3.7 BB/9, and previously it’s been over 4 in the minors. That could cause problems for him. But a guy with a 3.50-ish ERA with a 3.7 BB/9? Okay, what if his command gets dramatically better since he’s only 25? Then Sandoval becomes this year’s Robbie Ray. Pants and all! (Maybe not pants.) That’s how close Sandoval is to a breakout. For 2022, I’ll give Patrick Sandoval projections of 8-9/3.84/1.27/159 in 141 IP with a chance for much more.