I saw Tanner Houck had a slider that produced a .142 xBA and I gulped, then I went looking for some examples. Enjoy:

When a hitter is swinging at a pitch that’s either so far off the plate that the catcher can’t get to it or if it hits their back leg, it’s so nasty. Or simply S’nasty, which is Tanner Houck’s new name. S’nasty is basically Chris Sale from the other side, who was like Mr. S’nasty Sr. He was S’nasty before S’nasty. Yes, I’m comparing Houck to a guy who was the fastest to 2,000 strikeouts in history. That’s heady company, which sounds like what a pimp would name his LLC. Now, what made/makes Chris Sale nasty is/was he can’t/couldn’t be hit by lefties or righties. Naturally, he’s much harder for lefties. His career mark is .202 vs. lefties and .223 vs. righties. Bringing that up for a reason, can imagine if S’nasty Jr. aka The Incredible Houck is that good vs. righties? For those slow on the uptake, there’s more righties! If Houck is as good vs. righties as Sale is vs. lefties, then Houck’s about to have himself a few Cy Young awards and become a top five starter in the league. So, what can we expect from Tanner Houck for 2022 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the Tanner Houck 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 Tanner Houck sleeper:

Well, I don’t think Tanner Houck is going to win a Cy Young. Guess he could, but S’nasty Sr. aka Chris Sale would regularly have three pitches getting a sub-.200 xBA, and Houck has the slider. Also, outside of the Tommy John stuff, Sale would locate his slider much more accurately than Houck. Listen, putting a Sale comparison on a guy as young as Houck is unrealistic. Houck’s slider is still great. S’nasty’s success isn’t going to be dictated by his best pitch. It’ll be based on his worst pitch, his sinker.

Tanner Houck’s sinker is not bad; you can find demonstrable evidence it belongs in the S’nasty repertoire theater doing kabuki on hitters while purveyors of pitcher GIFs do bukkake. The sinker showed 32.4 inches of vertical drop and 14.7 inches of horizontal movement. It is getting hit at times, badly. Sinker’s slash is .313/.353/.458 with a 2% BB%. I wonder if Tanner Houck would do better throwing it out of the zone more. The SwStr% on the sinker is 17.3%, which is terrific, so it’s almost like he’s not wasting the pitch enough. Might be a matter of building up confidence. It could also be a small sample size on the sinker, he only threw 195 of them, and then I drilled down further. This might also be a case where I just got very lost in Statcast, and watched literally every sinker Houck threw last year. It wasn’t that many. Here you can see them for yourself in a blink:

Isolating all the sinkers over the plate (36), and this won’t surprise you, but they produced a .330 xBA. The difference there and my Sean Manaea sleeper is startling. In fairness, the majority of pitchers are like Houck. You throw over the plate and you get hit. This goes back to what I was saying about Houck, that he threw the sinker over the plate too much. *shields eyes from light* Sorry, I’m returning to the Statcast rabbit hole. Again, about the sample size:  Only ten sinkers (9 in August and September, and one on 4/3) produced a .600 batting average and a 1.100 SLG. Any guesses what I searched to find those truly beaten-up sinkers? Too late! They were all his sinkers thrown under 93 MPH. So, his sinker’s troubles might be due to being tired later in the year or not ready in his first April appearance. In other words, Houck might be just a little bit of luck away from an ace-type year. Or just being better rested. Though, he also never threw more than 5 1/3 IP in any start all year. Hard to go from that to an ace.

The interesting thing about S’nasty is the more I dug in on him, the less I liked him, but I started at like a 17 out of 10 on the Like Scale. So, that I came down to a nine, still means I’m wholly favorable for all he can do. Though, he clearly has drawbacks. Can he throw 125+ IP? Can he stay in the rotation? Can he stay on the mound for more than 5 IP in starts? Can he fix his sinker? Why we’re even here is because even if he can’t do any of those things, he could still be a number three starter. If he can adjust one of those things, he can be a number one. For 2022, I’ll give Tanner Houck projections of 8-7/3.27/1.08/156 in 126 IP with a chance for more.

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Fister Furbush
Fister Furbush
14 days ago

I’ve loved Tanner Houck’s potential ever since I heard someone say that he’s the right handed Chris Sale.

He’ll be an amazing sleeper pick if he does indeed open the season in Boston’s rotation. I wouldn’t let him slip past the 11th or 12th round in any draft.

-FF

Ante GALIC
Ante GALIC
14 days ago

Grey!!!!!

Awesome!

a. Love Tanner! He needs to maintain the good work he did on walks 2021 v. 2020 (2.2+ v. 4.2+) and hopefully he gets the nod for a starting job. Did a little digging myself. He’s got that winning mentality and the slider’s been with him since his SEC days right on up the minor system and on to MLB. I got him in my startup dynasty (12-team league) in the 16th round (pick #184) so I’m stoked. ZiPs came out with their Red Sox analysis and it’s not looking rosy for Tanner (0.9 fWAR, according to ZiPs). I think 2022 should be the year he steps up.

b. Norm MacDonald quote of the day for January 4, 2022

‘A 51-year old cosmonaut set a world space endurance record after spending 367 days in the Russian space station Mir. Also, a side note, he crushed his consecutive days of masturbation record.’

c. Marx Brothers quote of the day for January 4, 2022

‘My mother loved children – she would have given anything if I had been one.’

Cheers,
Ante

kcc26
kcc26
14 days ago

yeah love me some Houck as well and own him in a dynasty. only concern with this year is role. will they commit to him as a starter. you’d think so for the sake of his development. but you never know! he might get stuck piggybacking with rich hill or ::gasp:: wacha.

packers2018
packers2018
14 days ago

Agree with your thoughts Grey.
Hoping Boston doesn’t mess with him and he is in the starting rotation.
If he can repeat his 2nd half K% and BB% and pitch 150 to 160 IP along with his solid GB%
we’re looking at 185 K’s or so.

liljonny
liljonny
14 days ago

Hi grey, where can I find the pitch breakdown chart on savant?

junior56
junior56
14 days ago

Thanks for the Sleeper Report!

Buy or sell on Yelich in 2022?

Sport
Sport
14 days ago

Those sliders are so fun to watch! When it hits the batter’s back leg, my jaw was dropping. I’m glad you put it all out there though (the negatives) to help temper my aggressiveness to go after him. In a couple of my dynasties where Games Started are limited I could see his value not being high for a couple of years.

But in yahoo redraft leagues, where a innings pitched cap is used for all the pitchers combined, I believe Houck has better value with his K/9. Best case, he pushes 160 innings and 200K, but I would be happy to take your projections on him.

Thank you as always. Great stuff.

Waldorf
Waldorf
14 days ago

Grey, 15 teamer, keeper round in parenthesis, please pick 5.

Sandy Alcantara (4)
Schwarber (7)
J. Montgomery (8)
Ray (15)
Rodon (15)
Severino (15)
Votto (15)
Teoscar (16)
Jorge Polanco (20)

Many thanks!

Primetime
Primetime
14 days ago

Happy New Year. Just signed up again for Patreon. Hopefully we have baseball this year.

toolshed
toolshed
14 days ago

Holy sudden incapacitation Batman! That slider (gasp)! QS league be damned I want this guy again.

You mention innings concerns for him, but the Bos rotation other than sale & eovaldi are not what I’d call innings eaters. They are at best 5 inning guys (pivetta, hill, wacha). How many innings can they get out of Hill & Wacha? I think they need Houck to start and remain in the rotation. I just remembered they signed Paxton too, LOL. While they have several starters on the roster, do they really any depth?

toolshed
toolshed
Reply to  Grey
14 days ago

Yes I agree. He threw a total of 90 innings last year. I would hope they don’t do what Houston did to Garcia last year. It didn’t work our so well for them at the end and could get even worse this year.

bigbear
bigbear
14 days ago

With his sinker movement ranked pretty good too, maybe a sequence thing could be in order too. I wouldn’t be shocked if his per IP stats are better than Berrios at year end.

Plus dude has a nice sleeve!

Nick
Nick
13 days ago

Hi Grey

Happy New Year ;p

Dynasty : i can get Houck>>> over Alex Reyes ?
my starters are
Webb Giolito Cease Snell + Patino
RPs : Iglesias Pressly for SV

Alex Reyes had 10W 29SV last year and 95K in 72ip
with a nice stretch of 5W 3Holds in September !
but is a “Brain Freeze” for 2022 with Gallegos

i added Javier over Heaney: can be a SP this season with good ratios and high K (130K in 100ip) but nothing really yummy
OR directly GO FOR for Detmers NOW

my guess is you say DO IT

Saint
Saint
13 days ago

Hello Grey,

Anxiously awaiting your Top 100 for 2022. Until then, where do you anticipate Mountcastle and India to rank and which one higher?

Thanks !

Phil
Phil
13 days ago

Grey, 12 teamer, 6×6 (OPS and holds), keeper round in parenthesis, please pick 4.

Jacob deGrom (1)
Ozzie Albies (2)
Francisco Lindor (2)
Randy Arozarena (3)
Matt Olson (4)
Kevin Gausman (5)
Juan Soto (6)
Franmil Reyes (7)
Max Muncy (7)
Jordan Romano (8)
Pablo Lopez (11)
Kyle Schwarber (17)
Daulton Varsho (23)
Ranger Suarez (24)

Many thanks!

LenFuego
LenFuego
Reply to  Grey
13 days ago

Personally, I don’t think Albies is a 2nd rounder with OPS as a 6th category, and Gausman is a late 5th rounder if at all, and neither one of them seems like a candidate to improve their draft value for next offseason. You would probably be able to pick up Albies and Gausman in the draft in their protected rounds anyway.

I would rather have Varsho and Suarez . You will NOT be able to pick them up in their protected rounds — Varsho is going in the 9th round in NFBC ADP and Suarez in the 14th round. Both are young guys who have at least some chance of performing at
a level this season that would make them candidates to be kept next year too.

LenFuego
LenFuego
Reply to  Grey
13 days ago

I don’t really disagree with you about Varsho, but he’s qualified at catcher and he’s gonna get a healthy amount of at-bats because he plays outfield. Here is what his GM said: “I want to see him play every day at every position. I wish I could see him play five days in center field and five days behind the plate. I know that’s impossible. (But) he can be a 70 defender at every one of those positions.”

And yeah, he has not proved much, but he’s proved a little: after getting recalled June 20 last year, he went .802 OPS with 11 HR and 6 SB (0 CS) in 271 PA. And he walked 30 times, which helps in an OPS league. He has 60 grade speed — 58 pro SBs against only 11 CS.

His floor seems awfully high for a guy you can protect for a 24th round pick rather than take, say, Eric Haase there.

Meanwhile, here are the guys going in the 5th round in NFBC: Austin Riley, Wander Franco, Mondesi, Realmuto, Logan Webb, Peralta, Springer, Gausman, Arozarena, Raisel Iglesias, Albombso, Castellanos. Phil will probably be able to pick Gausman up anyway, and if he can’t, I bet he can console himself with one of those other guys.

LenFuego
LenFuego
Reply to  Grey
12 days ago

Yeah, I get you. I totally agree that where he is going in drafts — 9th round ADP on NFBC — is waaaaay overvalued. But 24th round (which is essentially where Phil would be getting him)? Yeah, count me in for that.

(I have heard the “catcher eligible playing every day elsewhere” hype a few times too often too … that works out so rarely that I basically ignore it. So I am not counting on Varsho being an every day player, but I do think he probably gets to the 130 game range, which is more than adequate for a catcher eligible guy.)

Zaps
Zaps
13 days ago

Dynasty league up to 18 kept. 11×11 roto (2b, 3b, AB, AVG, BB, G, H, HR, R, RBI, SB x APP, ERA, HD, INN, INN/start, K/9, QS, S, W, WHIP, WPCT). Not to get into the complicated rating system for keepers and rules, these are my current players to make the cut. Can’t keep more than a starting roster allows (no bench players going into draft). The number prior to the position notes the # of starters for each.

1-C: empty
2-1B: Olson, Guerrero
3-MI: Lindor, Mondesi, Adames
2-3B: Chapman, Urias
7-OF: Soto, Tucker, Adolis Garcia, Robert, Verdugo, Lewis, Kirilloff
10-P: Burnes, Woodruff, McCullers, Mahle

On the fence: Gallo, Valdez (HOU)

Just dealt Lynn to get Kirilloff which will make an OFer expendable (can’t keep more than 7). As a result, I’m about to trade Gallo for Cease who I will have to make room for. My candidate is dropping Urias (MIL). 3B is a tough position to fill but can target Urias as my #1 pick (5th overall) or maybe get him later in draft or someone better may be available. Do you see any other candidate? Perhaps Kyle Lewis? Don’t know why I think he’s of more value than Gallo or Urias but I value Cease over Gallo long term and I still like Lewis’ upside. Gallo is a sure thing plus in the HR & BB category but all things even in games played, I think Lewis will be a plus in AVG & 2B category while coming close to even in the remaining categories. Thoughts?

Zaps
Zaps
Reply to  Grey
12 days ago

I think that’s sound advise.

Found your Lurias sleeper post. Almost rather keep him than Chapman. What’s your thoughts on Chapman? To be optimistic, I think last year was an outlier and he will lean back to his pre covid norm. That’s my bet at least. Lurias was a big savior in stabilizing the position for me. Who would you be ok with losing to the draft?

Zaps
Zaps
Reply to  Grey
12 days ago

Solid. As a result, pulled the trigger on Cease for Gallo to make room for Kirilloff. Lurias will not make the cut for Cease and Lewis will not make the cut for Framber. New 18 based on your recommendations; something to think over.

1-C: empty
2-1B: Olson, Guerrero
3-MI: Lindor, Mondesi, Adames
2-3B: Chapman
7-OF: Soto, Tucker, Adolis Garcia, Robert, Verdugo, Kirilloff
10-P: Burnes, Woodruff, McCullers, Mahle, Cease, Framber

Interestingly enough, draft rules are you must fill in your starting roster and there is a supplemental draft for the bench after (5 slots). I’ll be targeting 1-C, 1-3B, 1-OF, 4-P (will mostly be RP’s – prob 3/4 open slots). Makes for a unique dynamic because you can’t draft anybody. My typical rule of thumb to stay competitive is to get 2 closers + 2 setup + 6 SP. Strategy is to rotate SP to max starts (2 starts – weekly lineup). I never keep RP’s or C’s.

Thanks for your time, much appreciated.

Zaps
Zaps
Reply to  Grey
12 days ago

If I’m not going to keep Urias, then that player I trade him for will have to take over someone’s spot. Besides, there will be plenty of catchers in the pool.

Also, there is a numbering/rating system that I’m not getting into that dictates rules for keepers. It’s meant to keep balance so teams can’t horde all the best players. They have to either trade them or let them go. Offseason is very busy and makes for interesting transaction.

I was lucky to win last season against some pretty stacked teams, notably one who had Goldy, Abreu, Arenado, Bogaerts, Bichette, Tatis, Teoscar, Ohtani, Trout, Acuna, JUrias to name a few. Went into the last saturday with an 8 point lead, only to go into sunday down 1/2 point (I was crying in the shower). Ended up winning by a point. 11×11, that late in the season, huge swings. He is not taking the same team, but still a juggernaut.

This league has been running since the 80’s BTW. I think they can make the claim they are the oldest league still running. There is an open slot if interested or if you know someone who is. That team was owned by a NY sports commentator since the beginning. He couldn’t manage it. Had to quit. It’s not a great roster, so a rebuild is needed. I took over a shitty team and rebuilt it to a contender in 5 and won it in 6.

Zaps
Zaps
Reply to  Grey
12 days ago

Thanks and understood. This is the one for me thank god. Can’t imagine that work load plus Razzball but really appreciate the content and the work you and your colleagues put into it as well as the service in taking the time to answer questions. Razzball comes with a unique counter perspective that helps give an edge and the humor is a great +++ over any alternative.

The free content alone has really helped me build this team. So given Razzball’s contribution to my success this year, I’ve decided the right thing to do is to finally subscribe for a season. I kinda feel guilty for not having done so yet (not really). Now, I’m not a sucker for subscriptions but it’s only fair to share in the winnings.

You finally earned your keep and roped me in. Damn.

everywhereblair
Reply to  Zaps
12 days ago

Thanks for the support! We’ll save you a cot in the Razzball basement and please allow 6-12 weeks for your complimentary Pop-Tarts to arrive.