Let’s start here:

Not sure why it’s so visually pleasing to watch a pitcher strikeout guys, but, mah gawd, I could watch that all day and twice on Muesday, the magical day that Narnia’s itself between Monday and Tuesday. So, Sean Manaea, the real-life Girl Scout cookie–*intern whispers in ear*…not Samoan as in the cookie? Okay, will be researching that further. But he’s more of a snack than Lars Nootbaar. *intern walks away* Are you quitting? But who’s going to toss boba into my mouth from ten feet away so I can yell, “Score?” Sean Manaea throws three pitches a sinker (60%), a change (24.4%) and a curve (15.6%). His basic numbers were 11-10/3.91/1.23/194 in 179 1/3 IP. Solid 9.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9, but overall kinda yawnstipating. What are we even doing here? I need flash! I need intrigue! I need spice! But not turmeric, because that shizz stains everything. I’m sorry, I love you yellowy spice, but my pots and pans look like my dog, Ted, urinated on them! So, what can we expect from Sean Manaea for 2022 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Sean Manaea 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 Sean Manaea sleeper:

Sean Manaea is one of those pitchers who just kept showing up on list after list that I was drilling down for starters I wanted. I’d look at K/BB and, boom, Manaea. I’d look at xFIP and, Frank Voila, there he was. I’d look at SwStr% and, what do ya know, there’s Sean Manaea. Was looking at the top changeups? And would you look at that, it’s Sean Manaea.

One stat that really jumped out at me like a cat in a bad horror film, Sean Manaea was up there for called strikes, and was number one for number of pitches in the zone. Think about this, because in here is the True ButterTM: A pitcher who throws the ball in the zone more than anyone else and gets a near-10 K/9. Truly think about what that True Butter means. In the zone, but no one is hitting it. That’s special. Let me give you the guys who were 45% in the zone and above him for SwStr%: Nathan Eovaldi, Brandon Woodruff, Sandy Alcantara and Kevin Gausman. That’s it. Even if Manaea is more Eovaldi than the other three, that’s some sexy eh-eff company. As you can imagine, Sean Manaea had a low contact% with pitches inside the zone. He was 12th best. The top 12 are pretty much everyone you want, and I’m just gonna drop a jpeg, rather than type up their names:

You can see where I got John Means’s name last year for my sleeper, and where I got Dylan Cease and Jordan Montgomery for this year (Dylan Cease sleeper and Jordan Montgomery sleeper). You can’t fake throwing the ball in the zone and missing bats. It’s not learnable without stuff. You can fool the hitter by getting him to swing at pitches outside the zone, but I’d contend (for the featherweight title) that it’s better to get swinging strikes on pitches in the zone. On those pitches, if the batter doesn’t swing, then they’re strikes anyway, i.e., the hitter is damned if he swings, and damned if he doesn’t. That’s pitching, Suzyn. There is one pitch that reoccurs over and over again for these guys. The lights-out change. Know why? It’s pretty obvious. A change is usually in the heart of the plate, but makes the hitter look silly because it messes with their timing. Sean Manaea has the third best change in baseball, and, unlike Jordan Montgomery, Manaea has an averagey fastball vs. a negative one.

One last point before I bring this sucker home like the Tootsie Roll Owl coming back from a bird sanctuary with lollies, Sean Manaea’s average fastball (the sinker) was better in the 2nd half. The sinker’s SwStr% in the 1st half vs. 2nd: 11.6% vs. 13.8%. The velocity went from 91.7 MPH to 92.5; his horizontal movement on the sinker went from 12.9 to 14.6 and the ground ball rate went from 15% to 21.5%. This is a bit like getting excited for a TV show that you don’t like just because it’s currently on TV and you don’t have to reach for the remote. Manaea’s sinker is a bug vs. a feature, but if it becomes a feature, then you’re talking about a guy who will be a top five starter vs. predicting a conservative top 20 upside. For 2022, I’ll give Sean Manaea projections of 13-8/3.47/1.11/208 in 193 IP with a chance for more.