It’s been a helluva busy morning. Your boss is on your case to get that report in by the end of the day. You only got to spend five minutes checking out Razzball today. Work sucks. Thankfully, it’s lunchtime, and just in the nick of time too. You’re famished. You’re on the clock though. Don’t have a whole lot of time to dick around and enjoy a sit down meal. You need to grab something quickly. Panera’s out. Look at that ridiculous line. Is there a “you pick three” special today or something? Chick-fil-A and Chipotle are out too. It seems like everyone is eating out today. But there are only four cars in the McDonald’s drive through. Looks like it’s the McHeat lamp special for you today! Cheap, quick, and somewhat edible. Not the worst thing in the world, but not exactly what you were looking for either. More of a “plan D” than anything else.

Ian Kennedy seems to be the McDonald’s of starting pitchers. An emergency fallback option. Can’t afford David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, or Jeff Samardzija? Sign a Kennedy. Missed out on Carlos Rodon, Taijuan Walker, and Luis Severino earlier in the draft? I guess Kennedy will have to suffice. He’s just a late round pick anyway. You can always drop him at any time. But is he really that bad of a fantasy option?

In a word – no. Grey has Kennedy ranked as the 76th best starting pitcher for the 2016 season, and he’s currently the 65th starting pitcher off of the board in NFBC drafts (247.80 ADP). Here are a few reasons why he’s being undervalued this year:

• Over the last two seasons, there were 13 starting pitchers who produced a K/9 greater than 9 as well as a K/BB ratio greater than 3 (min 300 IP): Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, Price, Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Jon Lester, Madison Bumgarner, Felix Hernandez, Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer, Stephen Strasburg, and… Ian Kennedy.

• Kennedy has been hurt by the longball over that two year span, but much moreso at his former team’s home ballpark, San Diego’s Petco Park, than elsewhere. At Petco, he allowed 29 homers in 186 innings (1.4 HR/9) as opposed to 18 homers in 183.1 innings (0.88 HR/9) away from San Diego. His ratios (3.68 ERA & 1.25 WHIP on the road vs 4.16 ERA & 1.33 WHIP at home) reflect the results of those home run rates.

• This offseason, Kennedy joined the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals. Over the past two regular seasons, fewer home runs (105) were hit at KC’s home ballpark, Kauffman Stadium, than at any other stadium in MLB. While Petco Park was in the bottom 10 in HR allowed over that span (128), there was still a 23 homer difference, or 11.5 per season, between the two parks.

• As a flyball pitcher (38.2% FB% since 2014 – 17th highest among qualified SPs), Kennedy is reliant on his outfield defense to make plays for him. In 2015, the Royals led MLB in OF defensive WAR (20.0) while the Padres were 26th in that category (-35.1). If you prefer the Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) metric, the Royals outfield led MLB by a mile (95.3; the Rays finished 2nd with a 64.6 rating), while the Padres outfield finished 21st out of the 30 MLB teams (-19.7).

• Is strength of schedule an issue? Moving from the National League to the American League is generally a bad thing for a pitcher, but that’s not necessarily the case in every situation. In 2015, all four of Kennedy’s NL West divisional opponents finished in the top 12 in MLB in terms of OPS vs right-handed pitching (Rockies – .772, Giants – .741, Diamondbacks – .739, Dodgers – .732). Here’s how Kennedy’s new AL Central rivals fared (Tigers – .732, Indians – .720, White Sox – .700, Twins – .694). Kennedy goes from having all four divisional opponents in the top 12 in MLB in OPS vs RHP to having only one opponent in the top half of MLB (Tigers) in that category. The White Sox (25th) and Twins (26th) were among the worst teams in baseball in that area.

Bottom line: It might not be wise to count on Kennedy as one of your top three starting pitchers, but when factoring in his strikeouts and improved situation (ballpark, defense, opponents), he looks like a top 50 fantasy SP in 2016, and he’s likely to come at a discount. Draft with confidence.

Projection: 188 IP, 13 wins, 3.72 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 177 strikeouts

 
  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    Ian Kennedy? Is yawnstipation a category?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Grey: If an inexpensive, back-end SP who racks up the strikeouts in a pitcher’s park backed by an elite defense is yawnstipating, sign me up!

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Sounds a bit like turkey pastrami to me… First choice? Not really but it is only $12…

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Grey: Nah, you’re thinking of Jered Weaver, the arrogant butcher of ratios…

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Hahaha… His fastball is like their burger

            • Big Magoo

              Big Magoo says:
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              @Grey: Haha, yup. Nonexistent!

        • de nachos says:
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          @Grey: if only he were a $12 turkey pastrami salad.

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Don’t confuse the terms!

            • de nachos says:
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              @Grey: do the kids still call them salads? I was worried reliever categories were Nick Cage movies now.

              • Grey

                Grey says:
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                Salads will be here after we’re all gone, cause they’re healthy

              • mauledbypandas says:
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                @de nachos: Zing!!!!

              • The Harrow says:
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                @de nachos: they had moved to the newer marry/F/kill until somebody around here whined about it constantly and got it changed.

    • OaktownSteve says:
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      @Grey:

      I think Kennedy is going to be a value this year. Magoo nailed it. I’m actually even a little more bullish than he is. These are the kind of picks that when you get them right, you win $.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        I can’t get excited about him… McCullers has a sore shoulder, btw

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @Grey: You don’t have to rob the cradle for value with every pick, you know…

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            I’m a fantasy pedobear

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @OaktownSteve: That projection is a 50th percentile one. It’s how I do. I think that Kennedy can definitely outperform it, but he doesn’t have to. That’s the beauty of the situation.

  2. MJC says:
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    Are the royals being 24th of 30 in HR a factor of low dinger totals at cough-man stadium tho? Kennedy is like that psycho but smokin hot girlfriend where you have great nights and then some really really bad ones. I’m scerrred.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @MJC: It’s not just the Royals though. Nobody hits homers at Kauffman. You can bench him in tough road matchups like you normally would with other SP 5/6 options.

  3. de nachos says:
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    He’s sired four daughters. So a fantasy baseball playing geneticist might say he’s got the…

    X-factor

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @de nachos: Haha, nice. That’s certainly different from Sir Ian, who prefers a “Y” factor in his teammates…

  4. The Grand Poppy says:
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    Would you take him over Patrick Corbin?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @The Grand Poppy: Corbin’s younger and is another year removed from Tommy John surgery, so I’d stick with him over Kennedy. I like both pitchers though.

  5. Polka

    Polka says:
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    I’m always looking for an inexpensive back end, as long as she has all her choppers and doesn’t weigh 3 bills! You can drink’em pretty, but not skinny!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Polka: Haha, yup!

  6. Polka

    Polka says:
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    so while everyone else is going for rookie reaches like Rasiel and Berrios,most could cash in a waiver wire k/9 stud!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Polka: That’s the idea. There’s nothing wrong with those other two, but you’d have to draft one much earlier and wait for the other to be called up. No such concerns with Kennedy.

  7. J-FOH says:
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    McIan please, hold the pickles

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: Then it wouldn’t be a McIan

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: Unless you’re talking about Kennedy. The pickles comment led me to believe that it was a Sir Ian reference…

  8. Bob says:
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    Great article. Kennedy or Gausman?

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Bob: Thanks! That’s a tough one. It really depends on your format and pitching staff. Assuming it’s a redraft league, I’d go with Gausman if you have a bunch of Keuchel/Lester types and Kennedy if you already have a few Walker/McCullers/Iglesias types. Classic floor vs ceiling debate.

  9. Scott says:
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    Hey Big M! Nice to “see” you again. I drafted Ian Kennedy in the 22nd round the other night, but it was a pitcher-hating crew. I got Hamels with pick 134! Anyhoo, here’s my rotation:
    Arrieta
    Hamels
    Corbin
    Shields
    Joe Ross
    Jason Hammel
    Ian Kennedy

    What do you think? This is an RCL.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Scott: Glad to hear from you, Scott! That looks like a solid pitching staff, though you probably don’t need to carry 7 SPs in that format unless you want to hit the maximum game start limit early and feature an all RP staff late in the season.

  10. Lville Jim says:
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    Kennedy is like going to Baskin Robbins and having a vanilla cone.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Lville Jim: But it’s a classic flavor!

    • Zeus says:
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      @Lville Jim: sometimes you get the new experimental flavour and its shit. You wish you got underated vanilla.

  11. Rabbit says:
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    I picked up Kennedy in the reserve draft of my 10 team roto auction league (standard 5×5 cats except K/9 instead of Ks, and weekly lineups). I followed the Grey approach of avoiding the top SPs and instead took D Salazar, Tyson Ross, F. Liriano, Carlos Rodon, Rasiel Iglesias, and Patrick Corbin. I think Kennedy gives me solid back end rotation help to balance upsidey nature of some of those starters. What do you think, M?
    By the way, with the move to K/9 (new for this year), I think middle relievers who provide good ratios will be valuable to augment your staff (whoa!). I had planned to nab Capps for that, but we all know how that plan went. Any thoughts on MRs who might help in K/9, Whip, and ERA? Thanks.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Rabbit: Hey Rabbit, I think that pitching staff should do well in your format. A bit risky in terms of Whip, but relievers should help with that as you mentioned.

      There are plenty of RPs who should be K/9 and ratio assets. Players like W. Smith/Jeffress in Mil, Romo/Strickland in SF, Osuna/Cecil in Tor, C. Smith/Uehara in Bos, Herrera/Soria in KC, O’Day in Bal, Watson in Pit, and Colome in TB. There are a bunch more, and there are also guys who pop-up in season every year. Keep your eyes peeled.

  12. Evan says:
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    Awesome work!

    Keeper Question
    14 team deep mixed keeper league

    Offered:
    $8 Kennedy
    $9 Semien

    For

    $5 Brett Lawrie

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Evan: Thanks! It depends on your pitching staff. If you need another starter and can afford the extra $12, it’s a fine deal. If your starting pitching is strong or you could better utilize that $12, hold Lawrie.

  13. Schwab says:
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    Nice post. Keeper question. H2H 8 team point based Dynasty league and each team keeps 15 players.
    Scoring is:
    1B (1pt) INNINGS PITCHED = 1pt QUALITY START 3pt
    2B (2pt) WINS = 7pt
    3B (3pt) SAVE = 3pt
    HR (6pt) K = 1.5pt
    WALK (1pt) EARNED RUN (-1pt)
    RBI (1.5pt) LOSS (-3pt)
    RUN (1pt)
    SB (1pt)
    I need to cut 4 from the following. Any thoughts? Thanks.
    Miggy, Rendon, Machado, Cargo, Harper, Pollock, Sano, Encarnacion, Hosmer, Baez, Heyward, Moncada, Teheran, Taijuan Walker, Lester, Giolito, Kluber, Richards, Corbin

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Schwab: Thanks! Teheran and Baez are the easy cuts. The other two are tough. Probably Corbin as the third. Rendon would get my reluctant vote for the last drop.

  14. Jeff P says:
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    Got Kennedy to by my 4th starter in the 15th round of a 19 team league.
    My starters are
    Strasburg (SP6)
    Samardzija (SP50)
    Garcia (SP65)
    Kennedy (SP70)

    Or, in May, Strasburg and lots of waiver wire fishing.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Jeff P: Haha. Not necessarily! That looks like a pretty good staff in a 19 team league.

  15. Alan says:
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    God damn what a good article

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