“Saving the best sleeper for last,” Grey said while forlornly looking out a window to see falling snow. It was the first snow he had seen in some time, so he went outside to play in it. When he reached his lawn, he realized it wasn’t snow. It was floating soot from the BBQ place they opened down the block. The liquid smoke smell hung in the air. This was the America he knew. Grey grabbed some fallen BBQ ash from the lawn, formed a snowball that reeked of ribs and joined in the horseplay with a few of the neighbors’ kids. “Hey, Eddie, here’s bacon remnants in your eye!” Grey yelled as he threw the BBQ ball at Eddie, but the soot-ash ball disintegrated as soon as it left his hand. In the pieces of shattered BBQ ash-soot ball, Grey saw all his fantasy baseball rankings that will start Monday– Suddenly, an alarm clock buzzed. Damn, I fell asleep watching a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives marathon while John Cougar Mellencamp was playing on the radio, and must’ve wrote the preceding while conked out. Taking these sleepers too literal. Anyway, what can we expect from Shane Bieber for 2019 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Prior to that Shane Bieber business, you need another refresher that is not going to be super interesting to read, but I think it’s important to say again. Nothing like starting off by saying something is boring and has been said before. Rule number one in Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Get People To Read Your Blog Post. So, a quick note about everything to do with fantasy baseball that is coming up right after this terribly long, awkward intro. Sleeper 1st basemen are okay now that the position is a mess and shallow. Sleeper middle infidels are less ideal because those positions have filled out recently with a ton of superstars. Sleeper outfielders are fine when you’re in a five-outfielder league and you want a flyer on the 4th or 5th outfielder. Sleeper catchers are fine, but a bore to read about. Yes, you want to go after sleepers at positions that are more scarce, not deeper. Look at it this way, if your opponent has a top five shortstop, say, Lindor, you’re not in great shape if you’re taking a flyer on, say, Kolten Wong. If your opponent has, say, Paul Goldschmidt, you can take a flyer on Luke Voit. Are they the same? No, of course not, but the difference between Lindor and Adames or the difference between Au Shizz and Voit? If you understand position scarcity is dopey, and you need to take flyers on shallow positions vs. deeper ones, half my job is done. The other half of my job is getting you to refresh the page 40,000 times per session for ad revenue. Okay, back to pitchers, you want sleeper pitchers. They are the position with the biggest swings depending on luck. The wins category? Mostly luck. ERA? Bunch of luck. WHIP? Some luck there too. Ks? They have the most control over this. So, whether you’re drafting a top 20 starter or a top 60 starter, you’re hoping for some luck, so why not just go for a sleeper pitcher who is being drafted later? Now, seriously, what can we expect from Shane Bieber from 2019 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper? Tell me already!
I’ll admit that I didn’t go heavy on the Shane Bieber info in the lede ‘graphs for one big reason. Everything about him is gorge, so there’s little to say except how wonderful he is. In 114 2/3 IP last year, he gave up 23 walks. He had a top 13 walk rate (when sorting by 110 IP), and here’s the guys above him in K/9: Verlander, Stripling and *raspberries lips* That’s it, Cousin Sweatpants. Him and Kluber both had 9.3 K/9 with obscenely walk rates. Stripling (10 K/9) and Verlander (12.2) and no one else. Maybe I’m a daydream Bieber, but 9.3 K/9 and a 1.8 BB/9 doesn’t make him a sleeper. It makes him a top 20 starter who just doesn’t happen to have that many innings under his belt. His 3.30 xFIP last year was 20th in the league, about the same as Syndergaard, Nola and Strasburg. Every stat you look up with Biebs, you find a group of starters who you’d like to own for where Bieber is being drafted. He had the tenth highest Zone% for his pitches and his Swinging Strike rate was 11.4%. Only James Paxton matches him in that respect. His K-BB% was 19.6%, which was similar to Charlie Morton. His ground ball rate was even sexy at 46.6%, just above Jacob deGrom. He was top 30 for lowest number of fly balls, near Morton and Nola again. The only stat he’s bad in, and he was the absolute worst in the league was BABIP (.356). A sign that he was hit by some terrible luck. Basically, if a ground ball was headed right for Lindor, a squirrel would grab the ball and throw it into left field for a single. Sometimes, the squirrel would toss it to his friend, a badger, who would then kick the ball for extra bases, allowing runs to score. If Beiber didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. Speaking of no luck, if he has simply neutral luck this year, he’s a top 30 starter, with a chance for a top 20 starter season, and he’s being drafted after 200 overall in some leagues. The Indians and I (we’re a team now, apparently) had great luck with Trevor Bauer last year. This year, give me that Biebs! For 2019, I’ll give Shane Bieber projections of 13-7/3.45/1.12/154 in 156 IP with a chance for much more.