Baseball HQ's 2014 Track Record

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Need player projections? Pick up any one of a dozen spring magazines or browse over to any fantasy baseball web site. But what you're really getting are three-year averages, subjective opinions or canned, inert numbers. Real performance forecasting is a living, breathing process that looks beyond faulty statistics and focuses on the analysis of component skills and leading indicators. That's what we do at Baseball HQ; it's a process that has been the foundation of our publications since 1993.

In 2014, this process produced a set of projections that could have made the difference in your fantasy season. Here is a look at how the analysis works, and some of the results...

2014 Batters

Jose Abreu: What if Jose Abreu is for real? This is not just any Cuban import; he comes to us as a fully-formed, at-peak 27-year-old who will play half his games in a launching pad. His peripherals in Cuba were better than both Cespedes and Yasiel Puig. (Shandler)
2014: 36-107-.317 in 556 AB

Nolan Arenado: Scouting reports described him as having a mature plate approach with still-developing power. MLB debut was consistent with that take, though 2H PX dive warns at least a little caution. Needs to solve RHP next, but xBA suggests some near-term BA upside while we wait on the pop. (Murphy)
2013: 10-52-.267 in 486 AB
2014: 18-61-.287 in 432 AB

Domonic Brown: Regular playing time finally allowed this post-hype prospect to live up to the hype. But don't get carried away— xPX and second half hr/f say that this power level is unlikely to hold, and that will take a bite out of his BA. While some will bet on further growth, put your money on regression. (Adler)
2013: 27-83-.272 in 496 AB
2014: 10-63-.235 in 473 AB

Billy Butler: The conundrum with Butler is whether to discount 2013 as merely a "down" year, or take it as a sign of things to come. Despite his command of the strike zone, Butler has trouble handling off-speed stuff, as evidenced by a 5.4% whiff rate on fastballs, compared to 10.4% and 15.6% on change-ups and sliders, respectively. That, and his massive GB tilt will need to be rectified before we believe '12 is repeatable. He remains a great asset in OBP leagues, but a 92 xPX suggests counting a power resurgence might be chasing fool's gold. (Gelfand)
2012: 29-107-.313 in 614 AB
2013: 15-82-.289 in 582 AB
2014: 9-66-.271 in 549 AB

Miguel Cabrera: After five straight years earning first round value — and seven times in nine years — we just automatically ink in his name in the top 15. But he's now 31 and coming off an injury that Rick Wilton (Dr. HQ) suggests might be a tad more serious than the media is reporting. I'm not saying that Miggy is going to drop but I do think there is not an insignificant probability (perhaps 30%) that he could. Remember, there was a time when we'd never conceive of Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols dropping out of the first round. (Shandler)
2013: 44-137-.348 in 555 AB
2014: 25-109-.313 in 611 AB

Kole Calhoun: His PCL-inflated minor-league numbers and his small-sample xPX from Anaheim both point to 20 HR potential. There is $15 season here that shouldn't cost more than single-digits to acquire. (Murphy)
2013: 8-32-.282 ($6) in 195 AB
2014: 17-58-.272 ($19) in 493 AB

Matt Carpenter is going at #52. Those 11 HRs, for a corner infielder, are tepid. His value was driven by nearly 700 plate appearances and stats that were dependent on his teammates (runs, RBI). Yet he is going 20 spots ahead of Josh Donaldson. Don't overvalue. (Shandler)
2013: 11-78-3-.318 in 626 AB
2014: 8-59-5-.272 in 595 AB

Chris Carter ($5 with BA, $14 without BA) provides the biggest profit opportunity if we ignore batting average. Yes, that .220 mark is a huge sinkhole, but you can plan around it by chasing higher-contact hitters. There could be 40-HR upside here. (Shandler)
2013: 29-82-.223 in 506 AB
2014: 37-88-.227 in 507 AB

Starlin Castro: Well, this was ugly. Previously stable ct% and Spd dipped and dragged BA and SB down accordingly. xPX points to some untapped power, making a HR bump possible given his lofty AB totals. Still in growth years and has shown better skills, so a rebound is likely and a potentially significant one. UP: 15 HR, .300 BA. (Bloomfield)
2013: 10-44-.245 in 666 AB
2014: 14-65-.292 in 528 AB

Lonnie Chisenhall: This season will be viewed as a disappointment, given he was handed the 3B job and couldn't hold it. But there are signs of hope here, PX growth foremost. While his best skills were posted in a torrid 100-AB stretch at Triple-A, they're still part of his profile. Time to buy low. UP: 20 HR, .270 BA (Truesdell)
2013: 11-36-.225 in 289 AB
2014: 13-59-.280 in 478 AB

Zack Cozart: On surface, a solid follow-up to ’12 rookie debut. But waning PX, big GB jump put double-digit HR in jeopardy. Low bb% and PX confirm that he won’t be anything more than a .260 hitter. That leaves his wheels, which actually are pretty good but need green light. New manager could help. Expect more SB, fewer HR. (Nickrand)
2013: 12-63-0-.255 in 567 AB
2014: 4-38-7-.221 in 506 AB

Allen Craig: Slow start (no HR in April) bookended by foot injury in September kept his HR totals down. Third straight year of FB% decline also didn't help. LD% supports high BA, but h% and xBA say another .300+ BA may be a stretch. With health and skills concerns, his status as a $20 player carries a fair amount of risk. (Adler)
2013: 13-97-.315 in 508 AB
2014: 8-46-.215 in 461 AB

Coco Crisp: Power surge started in 2nd half of 2012 with 9 HR and 134 PX. Continued into 2013, with a big boost in FB% in 2nd half. But at no time was it supported by xPX, which casts doubt as to sustainability. Other concerns: inability to stay healthy, big drop in SBO, and flagging success vs LHP. Expect less power, maybe flat speed. (Adler)
2013: 22-66-21-.261 in 513 ABs
2014: 9-47-19-.246 in 462 AB

C.J. Cron: One name not be getting enough attention is Angel 2011 first-round pick C.J. Cron. Cron scuffled with a .274 BA and 14 HR in Double-A Arkansas, in the same power-suffocating venue that helped contain both Mike Trout (13 HR/353 AB in 2011) and Mark Trumbo (15 HR/533 AB in 2009). Likewise, Cron’s performance wasn’t representative of his plus power. And now an AFL rebound (.413/.467/.700, with 5 HR over 80 AB) leaves Cron poised for a 2014 MLB shot. (Thompson)
2014: 11-37-.256 in 242 AB

Chris Davis: Everything fell right for Davis last year and the recency bias is about the only thing pushing him up the ADPs. But can we ignore the fact that he batted just .238 in the second half? Compare the high power, low contact BPIs of Davis and Giancarlo Stanton; I consider the odds nearly the same for either one to finish in the first round (Stanton had a first round ADP last year) or in the fourth. (Shandler)
2013: 53-138-.286 in 584 ABs
2014: 26-72-.196 in 450 AB

Khris Davis: Injuries and suspensions created an opportunity, and he took advantage. 78% ct% and 212 PX in 120 AB at MIL in 2nd half; a small sample size, but an indicator that he can hold his own in the bigs. If he gets regular playing time... UP: 25+ HR. (Adler)
2013: 11-27-.279 in 136 AB
2014: 22-69-.244 in 501 AB

Corey Dickerson has everything you want to see in an end-game flyer for your draft: above-average power and speed, looming opportunity, and a favorable home ballpark. For the short-term, the line-drive heavy approach he showed in his COL debut last year may not lead to a lot of power, and while his speed grades out well, he didn't do much to translate it into SBs in the upper minors. Those are the warts on his game, but if he makes progress in either exploiting his speed or lifting the ball into the Coors thin air more often, his value could grow quickly. And if he somehow grows in both areas, look out. Like a young Gomez, this is a toolsy skill set in need of polish... which could happen at any time (or never). (Murphy)
2013: 5-17-2-.263 in 194 AB
2014: 24-76-8-.312 in 436 AB

Tyler Flowers has the inside track as the frontline catcher which could be vote of confidence for more ABs. He's never cracked .215 in a season but he's never been given consistent ABs either. Sometimes regular playing time is all it takes. (Shandler)
2013: 10-24-.195 in 256 AB
2014: 15-50-.241 in 407 AB

Todd Frazier: Batting average stopped him shy of a full return to '12 levels as h% fell back to earth, but positive signs remain: Stable power skills suggest 20 HR is a reasonable baseline, while steady Eye improvement and 2H ct% hint at further BA growth. At peak age with room for more, like... 25 HR, .265 BA (Bloomfield)
2012: 19-67-.273 in 422 AB
2013: 19-73-.234 in 531 AB
2014: 29-80-.273 in 577 AB

David Freese: A few benchmarks from 2012 he likely won't reach again: 1) 20 HR: heavy GB% stroke and hr/f regression make 10 HR a better bet; 2) .290+ BA: xBA continued to spiral in unison with PX and Spd; 3) 500+ AB: "C" health grade entering post-peak years. Pay for a repeat of 2013 rather than a return to his 2012 peak. (Bloomfield)
2012: 20-79-.293 in 501 AB
2013: 9-60-.262 in 462 AB
2014: 10-55-.260 in 462 AB

Yan Gomes: Significant improvement in ct% and continued plus power puts him back on our radar, and helped him earn consistent AB down the stretch. xBA doesn't fully validate BA gains, will need to hold on to new ct% level to keep BA out of liability range. Still, If he can keep getting his name on the lineup card... UP: 20 HR. (Rudd)
2013: 11-38-.294 in 293 AB
2014: 21-74-.278 in 485 AB

Curtis Granderson: In the two seasons prior to last year, Granderson slugged 41 and 43 HR, respectively, but it’s worth noting that his xPX, after peaking at 161 in 2011, dipped to 132 in 2012 and 135 last year. Now he’s leaving one of the most favorable parks for left-handed power and shifting to the National League for the first time in his career. Though he’s probably still capable of a 30 HR season, it would not be at all surprising to see him unable to escape the 20s in 2014. (Pyron)
2011: 41-119-.262 in 583 AB
2012: 43-106-.232 in 596 AB
2013: 7-15-.229 in 214 AB
2014: 20-66-.227 in 564 AB

J.J. Hardy Good things happen when you put the ball in play over 520 times. Unfortunately, declining xPX and increasing GB% say HR total has nowhere to go but down. Stable skill set gives a nice floor, though his value is heavily tied to ABs. Tread carefully as he enters his post-peak years. (Bloomfield)
2013: 25-76-.263 in 601 AB
2014: 9-52-.268 in 529 AB

Bryce Harper: One of the first rules of fantasy player evaluation is "never pay for a level of performance that a player has never achieved." Here are the levels that Harper has never achieved: 23 HR, 60 RBI, 19 SB, .275 BA and $24 in roto earnings. Never touched any of those. Ever. Yes, he is very talented and yes, he could earn back this first round expectation. But I would not take that type of risk with a foundation player. (Shandler)
2012: 22-59-18-.270 in 533 AB
2013: 20-58-11-.274 in 424 AB
2014: 13-32-2-.273 in 352 AB

Matt Kemp: Off-season shoulder surgery led to slow start, then hamstring/shoulder/ankle injuries forced three separate DL stints plus an early shutdown. Best skill sign here is that xPX held up despite shoulder issues. Leg problems seem chronic; days of 30+ SB likely over. BA/power combo still provide a nice skill foundation, though. (Murphy)
2012: 23-69-9-.303 in 403 AB
2013: 6-33-9-.270 in 263 AB
2014: 25-89-8-.287 in 541 AB

Jason Kipnis: PRO: Couldn't sustain 1H power surge, but xPX validates the full-season power output; lots of LDs drove BA gains; strong SB% despite average Spd. CON: xBA skeptical of BA gains due to ct% regression; 2nd consecutive 2H collapse. VERDICT: Threat of BA regression casts doubt on a repeat; he's likely to be overvalued. (Murphy)
2013: 17-84-30-.284 in 564 AB
2014: 6-41-22-.240 in 500 AB

Adam LaRoche: It was erosion, not collapse, that turned 2012's career year into 2013's disappointment: ct%, FB%, hr/f, and h% all gave back a few ticks, yielding a big decline in end results. The lesson: Regression is a powerful force. His true skill level lies somewhere between 2012 and 2013, so set your expectations there. (Murphy)
2012: 33-100-.271 in 571 AB
2013: 20-62-.237 in 511 AB
2014: 26-92-.259 in 494 AB

Victor Martinez: Back from torn ACL and lost 2012, it was like he'd never left. Started slowly due to to unfortunate h%, roared back and then some in 2nd half when his luck turned. Even with age and inactivity, the basic hitting skills haven't changed. xPX even suggests the HR may return. Catcher eligibility likely gone for good, but... UP: 20 HR (Thompson)
2013: 14-83-.301 in 605 AB
2014: 32-103-.335 in 561 AB

Joe Mauer: Yes, Mauer will still be catcher-eligible on draft day, keeping his value afloat. But he lacks the pop to be a truly worthy producer at 1B. Spiraling ct% and D health grade makes betting on another year at last season's level a risk. No longer a lock to return top-5 value at his position - don't overbid. (Gelfand)
2013: 11-47-.324 in in 445 AB
2014: 4-55-.277 in 441 AB

Dioner Navarro parlayed a career high .300/.361/.492 line over 240 AB into a two-year deal. An unsustainable 19% HR/F drove that slugging gain, while a 6% increase in BB% helped along the OBP. Both of those situations should normalize, but a decent 0.56 Eye (career) and an upward trending PX (49-85-95-107) ensure that he will still have value in many formats. (Dodge)
2013: 13-34-.300 in 240 AB
2014: 12-69-.275 in 477 AB

Anthony Rizzo: Be ready: Narrative-seekers will point to his .218/.315/.382 slash after signing a 7-yr, $41M contract in mid-May and scream causation. But the coin didn't affect his BPI: more patience, better FB% with solid power peripherals, nearly identical BPV. Hit rate, xBA, RandVar and age all point to a rebound. Profit city. (Hershey)
2013: 23-80-.233 BA in 606 AB
2014: 32-78-.286 BA in 524 AB

Nate Schierholtz: Tempting to say power explosion was just getting out of SF, but career SLG splits - .408 at AT&T, .433 elsewhere - aren't huge, and both numbers pale to this year's. No, look closely at xPX: it says that he's done this before, and also implies that he'll give a chunk of it back. Let someone else bid on a power repeat. (Truesdell)
2013: 21-68-.251 in 462 AB
2014: 7-37-.195 in 353 AB

Kyle Seager: Solid follow-up, with bb% spike an encouraging addition. So-so BA skills limit his overall upside, but he's on the right side of the growth curve, so a high floor comes with that package, too. Power is where a profit could show: FB growth worth watching, and there's more power potential as he continues to mature... UP: 25-30 HR. (Truesdell)
2013: 22-69-.260 in 615 AB
2014: 25-96-.268 in 590 AB

Jean Segura: OPS by month: 979/904/718/671/584/552. PX by month: 109/109/78/54/47/46. Did he wear down? Or was Apr/May simply an aberration? Nothing in history suggests he owns those 1st half power skills. Needed huge 2nd half SBO or SB would've dipped. Likely overvalued - and risky business. DN: .250, 25 SB (Truesdell)
2013: 12-49-44-.294 in 588 AB
2014: 5-31-20-.246 in 513 AB

George Springer: Terrific power/speed prospect, with outstanding athleticism--and that one huge bugaboo, contact rate. HOU did well letting him develop in the minors all year, and bb% is encouraging, showing at least a clue of the strike zone. Exciting 30/30 potential, but for a while, it'll come at the expense of a low BA and lots of Ks. (Truesdell)
2014: 20-51-5-.231, 61% Ct% in 295 AB

Giancarlo Stanton: Awful April, then missed May with hammy. After that, the power mostly returned, but saw very few strikes to hit in that MIA lineup. Barring a change of address, that's likely an issue again. But make no mistake: this is still a slugger of the highest, most-frightening caliber. Grab him now while his stock is (somewhat) down. UP: 50 HR (Truesdell)
2013: 24-62-.249 in 425 AB
2014: 37-105-.288 in 539 AB

Troy Tulowitzki: When healthy, a top SS option due to steady, elite power and solid Eye. Continued fading green light means days of double-digit SB are likely over, but you don’t draft him for wheels anyway. Two quibbles: .850 OPS on road reflects dependence on thin air, and has yet to post consecutive 500-AB seasons. Okay, BIG quibbles. (Nickrand)
2013: 25-82-1-.312 in 446 AB
2014: 21-52-1-.340 in 315 AB

Luis Valbuena: Low BA, repeated MLB failures will keep many away, but surging plate control, h% correction are recipes for turning historically poor BA into an acceptable one. Continued small-but-steady growth in power skills also points to a HR spike, especially if xPX or new flyball trend holds. UP: .270 BA, 20 HR (Nickrand)
2013: 12-37-.218 in 331 AB
2014: 16-51-.249 in 478 AB

Stephen Vogt: Three reasons why he’ll be a solid second catcher on draft day:
1) Sept power, flyball explosion w/OAK shows some power upside
2) Good plate control in high minors
3) Caught stealing rate 5% higher than league average, so he’s not a liability behind the dish.
On right side of platoon too. UP: 15 HR (Nickrand)
2013: 4-16-.252 in 135 AB
2014: 9-35-.279 in 269 AB

Neil Walker: On surface, a big fade. Reason to worry? Nope. Dip in BA was fully the result of h% swoon. Blame dearth of SB on red light; speed skills are good enough for his usual 5-10 bags. Only bugaboo is steadily declining OPS vs. LHers, but 2nd half suggests it’s not reason for alarm yet. There’s a sneaky 20 HR here. (Nickrand)
2013: 16-54-.252 in 499 AB
2014: 23-76-.271 in 512 AB

 

2014 Pitchers

Henderson Alvarez: Featured a tidy 5.0 Cmd on the road in 2013, a mark that dipped to a 1.5 Cmd when pitching at home. He still needs to find a strikeout pitch, but with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, he's got the raw tools to make a step forward in his age-24 season, especially if he can iron out his home/road splits. (Nickrand)
2013: 3.59 ERA, 2.1 Cmd in 103 IP
2014: 2.65 ERA, 3.4 Cmd in 187 IP

Jake Arrieta is far from a sure thing, as he's had some control issues in the past, as well as struggles vs left-handers (1.5 Cmd, .833 OPS against). That being said, he's shown the ability to miss bats, and moving from the AL East to the NL Central can only help. The shoulder issue has discounted his price even further, and he possesses more upside than many back of the rotation options. (Rudd)
2012: 3 wins, 6.20 ERA, 102 BPV in 115 IP
2013: 5 wins, 4.78 ERA, 15 BPV in 75 IP
2014: 10 wins, 2.53 ERA, 136 BPV in 157 IP

Dellin Betances: Failed SP prospect dialed it up in the Triple-A pen over final 3 months—73 K, 4 runs, 1 HR over 51 IP. He then whiffed 10 in 5 uneven IP with NYY. Ctl is an issue, but not upper-90s gas. Opportunity could come quickly with a NYY pen in transition.(Thompson)
2013: 0 wins, 10.80 ERA, 10/2 K/BB in 10 IP
2014: 5 wins, 1.40 ERA, 135/24 K/BB in 90 IP

Zach Britton could become the Orioles' saves leader. The only reliever who consistently keeps the ball from flying out of Camden Yards might be this ground-ball specialist. The shorter stints and added fastball velocity have allowed Britton to continue to rack up strikeouts at the batter-per-inning clip he displayed during the spring. (Olson)
2013: 0 saves, 4.95 ERA, 4.1 K/9 in 40 IP
2014: 37 saves, 1.65 ERA, 7.3 K/9 in 76 IP

Carlos Carrasco will be a forgotten man in most leagues. His prospect star has faded due to Tommy John surgery, and at age 27, even his post-hype luster is wearing off. That said, he has shown flashes of being an impact SP when healthy. For example, with CLE in 2010: 7.7 Dom, 2.8 Ctl, 57% GB%, 97 BPV. He reproduced those skills in a tiny sample with CLE late in 2013: 7.2 Dom, 2.5 Ctl, 51% GB%, 89 BPV. His four-seam fastball averaged 95 mph too. He has a 9/1 K/BB in 7 IP so far this spring. With a current ADP of 619, he's being drafted way later than he should be. (Nickrand)
2013: 6.75 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 38 BPV in 47 IP
2014: 2.55 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 148 BPV in 134 IP

Jesse Chavez entered the season with a 5.99 ERA in 156 appearances, but with a new team came a new approach. He threw very few fastballs, and a lot more cutters; seems to have worked. Skills history, low hr/f suggest it was a career year, but new pitch mix, 11.5 Dom in Aug-Sept say don't just dismiss it as a fluke. (Rudd)
2013: 2 wins, 3.92 ERA in 57 IP
2014: 8 wins, 3.45 ERA in 146 IP

Sean Doolittle: Second tour against MLB hitters wasn't as dominant as the first, but this was still a solid repeat. Dom drop was the biggest concern, though SwK remained steady and velocity actually improved. Elite Ctl and high FB% make him a good bet even with the lower Dom. If he can overcome the southpaw bias... UP: 30 SV. (Bloomfield)
2013: 2 saves, 3.13 ERA, 60 K in 69 IP
2014: 22 saves, 2.73 ERA, 89 K in 63 IP

Felix Doubront Limped to the finish line (9.77 ERA in September) as 2nd half skills fell flat for 2nd straight season. The bigger red flag here was the Dom plunge, making already shaky Ctl an even bigger liability. Hard to say if it's just a stamina issue, but if these 2nd half skills stick... DN: 5.00 ERA, and a spot in the bullpen. (Bloomfield)
2013: 11 wins, 4.32 ERA in 162 IP
2014: 4 wins, 5.54 ERA in 80 IP

Doug Fister: While his surface statistics seem to evidence a slight decline, his skills have been remarkably consistent. His xERAs over the last three years have been 3.54, 3.45, and 3.47 and his Cmd has been an elite 3.9, 3.7 and 3.6. As a ground ball pitcher (54% in 2013), he may be helped by the 2014 WAS infield defense. (Hertz)
2013: 14 wins, 3.67 ERA in 209 IP
2014: 16 wins, 2.41 ERA in 164 IP

Sonny Gray found himself in some elite company in 2013. Only he and Strasburg paired a 3.0+ Cmd, 50%+ GB%, and 93+ mph fastball among SP in 2013. His skills with OAK in the second half were great: 9.4 Dom, 2.8 Ctl, 53% GB%, 125 BPV. His upside is underscored by the elite dominance and command he showed against RH bats: 10.3 Dom, 1.7 Ctl, 50% GB%, 168 BPV. Only Justin Masterson had better skills against righties in 2013. Gray remains a keeper league gem and has the goods to break out in 2014. (Nickrand)
2013: 5 wins, 2.67 ERA in 64 IP
2014: 14 wins, 3.08 ERA in 219 IP

Cole Hamels: Rough start to 2013, captured by 1st half ERA, set the narrative for the whole year. Skills tell a different story, though: They remain remarkably consistent and elite, touching new highs in 2nd half. Poor support ruined W-L, but he's sufficiently skilled to overcome that in 2014. Remains a top-shelf pitcher at a second-tier price. Invest. (Murphy)
2013: 8 Wins, 3.60 ERA in 220 IP
2014: 9 Wins, 2.46 ERA in 205 IP

Jason Hammel: If you evaluate in terms of ERA, 2012 now looks like a blind squirrel finding a nut. But if you look at BPV, 2012 gets validation from 2009-10. So what happened in 2013? May have just never been healthy: pre-season knee surgery, illness in June, DL stint for arm problems in 2H. If we give him a pass, then... UP: sub-4.00 ERA. (Murphy)
2012: 8 Wins, 3.43 ERA in 118 IP
2013: 7 Wins, 4.97 ERA in 139 IP
2014: 10 Wins, 3.47 ERA in 176 IP

Phil Hughes: What if his tenure as a Yankee just wasn't a good fit? He's shown flashes of skill (BPVs 114, 68, 24, 91, 74) despite ERAs all over the map. Target Field is better suited to his flyball ways. Take his pedigree and those flashes, and take a shot here. He's still only 28. (Shandler)
2013: 4 wins, 5.19 ERA in 146 IP
2014: 16 wins, 3.52 ERA in 210 IP

Hisashi Iwakuma posted an elite 2.66 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 2013, numbers that came with strong skill support (117 BPV). Before you make him one of your rotation anchors, note that he showed his elite skills only at home: 8.1 Dom, 1.0 Ctl, 50% GB%, 146 BPV. Things weren't nearly as easy for him away from Safeco: 7.0 Dom, 2.5 Ctl, 47% GB%, 86 BPV. A 27% H% and 84% S% combined to give him good surface stats on the road. Even more, Iwakuma was the beneficiary of a tiny 22% H% with runners in scoring position, the second-lowest mark in MLB. Buy the skills, but a 3.50 ERA is more likely than another near-2.50 mark. (Nickrand)
2013: 2.66 ERA in 220 IP
2014: 3.52 ERA in 179 IP

Scott Kazmir: Adrift for most of 2011 and a Sugar Land Skeeter in 2012, he finished 2013 with the best Ctl and Cmd of MLB career. Crediting slider and change-up, made sweeping strides in 2nd half. Repeat hinges on mitigating damage of BBs and righties, If he does, the sequel to the comeback could surpass the original with... UP: .200 IP, 200 Ks.(Carroll)
2013: 9 wins, 4.04 ERA, 2.7 Ctl in 158 IP
2014: 15 wins, 3.55 ERA, 2.4 Ctl in 190 IP

Ian Kennedy is certainly trending in the wrong direction over the last three years. That erosion has been the result of a rise in both Ctl and HR/9. Transitioning to a spacious home park will help the latter. He's got 3.50 ERA upside again. (Nickrand)
2011: 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 0.8 HR/9 in 222 IP
2012: 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 1.2 HR/9 in 208 IP
2013: 4.91 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 1.3 HR/9 in 181 IP
2014: 3.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 0.7 HR/9 in 201 IP

Dallas Keuchel: Improved major-league GB%, Ctl, and Dom (+3) but remained stuck in the same statistical quagmire. Hit rate did him no favors as ERA took a beating, and that’s with his GB limiting damage of high hr/f. But skills do say he’s improved some, as does xERA. If the Dom sticks and he gets Ctl back under 3.0... UP: sub-4.00 ERA. (Carroll)
2013: 6 wins, 5.15 ERA, 3.0 Ctl in 154 IP
2014: 12 wins, 2.93 ERA, 2.2 Ctl in 200 IP

Corey Kluber was one of the most skilled starters in the AL during 2013: 8.3 Dom, 2.0 Ctl, 46% GB%, 119 BPV. He posted a 3.0+ Cmd against both LH and RH bats. Credit a varied pitch mix for his success. He had a strong 15%+ SwK% on three different pitches: changeup (21% SwK%), curveball (19% SwK%), slider (16% SwK%). And the velocity on his four-seam fastball has increased in each of the last two seasons. Kluber enters 2014 as one of the best breakout targets in the game. (Nickrand)
2013: 11 wins, 3.85 ERA, 136 K in 147 IP
2014: 18 wins, 2.44 ERA, 269 K in 236 IP

Hiroki Kuroda has strung together four consistent seasons, averaging over 200 innings with a Dom right around 7 and a Ctl right around 2. The Ctl showed some slight improvement in 2013, but Dom is on a slow four-year decline and he finished at 6.7 in 2013. His ERA spiked in August and September, leading some to believe that he was tiring, but a huge decline in strand rate (July 94%, August 68%, September 62%) may have been a more significant reason. He may not make the 210 inning bonus, as he has only exceeded that mark once in his career, but he should be a lock for the 190 inning reward. (Dodge)
2013: 11 wins, 3.31 ERA in 201 IP
2014: 11 wins, 3.71 ERA in 199 IP

Lance Lynn: Coming off of an $11 year in 2012, put up a near-identical season, but was victimized by an unfortunate 2nd half H%, an uninspiring 3.4 Ctl, and struggles vs. left-handed hitters. With 378 IP, 33 wins and two sub-4.00 ERA seasons under his belt, Lynn's floor looks reassuring. And with any luck or improvement against LHBs, his value could soar. (Thompson)
2013: 202 IP, 3.97 ERA, .765 OPS v/L, $6
2014: 204 IP, 2.74 ERA, .697 OPS v/L, $15

Mark Melancon was superb in 2013 and took over when Jason Grilli was hurt, with great success. This can happen again. Grilli is getting older and does not have the 4.5 Cmd/56% groundball rate that Melancon has. In fact, no one else has that lethal combination. Melancon may not be a sleeper, but he may well be worth more than $4-8 and is certainly worthy of a loftier ADP than 351. (Dennis)
2013: 1.39 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 16 Sv in 71 IP
2014: 1.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 33 Sv in 71 IP

Jenrry Mejia has endured a long road back from TJ surgery in May 2011. He had surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow late in 2013, which puts into question if he will ever have the durability to stick as a starter. When healthy, he has a heavy, moving mid-90s fastball that induces both strikeouts and groundballs at a high rate. Mejia remains a good stash regardless of role if you have a bench. (Nickrand)
2013: 0 Sv, 8.9 Dom, 2.30 ERA ion 27 IP
2014: 28 Sv, 9.4 Dom, 3.65 ERA in 94 IP

Wily Peralta On surface, Ctl gains offset by Dom loss, leaving him as an end-gamer again. But late K surge, 95-mph four-seamer give hope for much more, especially with that consistent 50% groundball rate. RH bats absolutely hammered his change-up; a simple repertoire tweak could make a huge difference. UP: 3.50 ERA, 200 K (Nickrand)
2013: 11 wins, 4.37 ERA in 183 IP
2014: 17 wins, 3.53 ERA in 199 IP

Drew Pomeranz was a top prospect in the CLE system a few years ago when he posted a 119/38 K/BB in 101 IP between High-A and Double-A. Between a rocky 2012 and ugly short-stint with COL in 2013, he did post these nice skills at Triple-A in 2013: 96/33 K/BB in 85 IP. Given the rash of injuries to hit the OAK rotation this spring, Pomeranz could get an early shot at making an impact with his new club. He's a good stash if you have a bench. (Nickrand)
2013: 6.23 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, -42 BPV in 22 IP
2014: 2.35 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 83 BPV in 69 IP

Rick Porcello: After five non-descript seasons, he seems to have become a non-descript workhorse, being counted on for about 180 non-descript innings each year. But he is only 25 and his 5-year BPV trend should tell you all you need to know (42, 45, 60, 69, 105).(Shandler)
2013: 4.32 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 177 IP
2014: 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP in 205 IP

Garrett Richards: Four reasons why a 3.50 ERA breakout is around the corner... 1) Surging GB rate raises floor and gives him unique skill. 2) 95-mph fastball, solid SwK lay foundation for more strikeouts 3) SP/RP skills nearly identical 4) high PQS-DOM% confirms he’s very close to taking a big step forward. A premium target for your end game. (Nickrand)
2013: 4.16 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.3 Dom in 145 IP
2014: 2.61 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 8.8 Dom in 169 IP

Tanner Roark: A sterling debut from former 25th-round pick as he bounced between rotation and pen. RH bats couldn’t even manage ONE hit against his slider the 141 times he threw it. Excellent Cmd as SP, so don’t worry about him sticking in that role. With sustained control, a $1 bid could net you $10 profit. (Nickrand)
2013: 7 wins, 1.51 ERA 54 IP
2014: 15 wins, 2.85 ERA in 199 IP

David Robertson: Mariano’s heir-apparent continues to show that he’s ready to take over. With three straight years of elite skills under his belt, he’s got all the tools to run with the role. Steady Ctl gains suggest he hasn’t hit his ceiling yet, and a 4.0+ Cmd against both LH and RH bats says he won’t be overexposed. UP: 50 SV (Nickrand)
2013: 3 Sv, 4.3 Cmd, 151 BPV in 66 IP
2014: 39 Sv, 4.2 Cmd, 177 BPV in 64 IP

Francisco Rodriguez: It’s easy to dismiss his prospects of being a viable closer again given lack of chances last two seasons in multiple uniforms. Elite skills, sub-2.75 ERA in three of last four indicate otherwise. Don’t be worried about funky LH/RH oOPS splits; they were H%-induced. Stash as a LIMA reliever and hope he gets another shot. (Nickrand)
2013: 10 Sv, 129 BPV in 47 IP
2014: 44 Sv, 132 BPV in 68 IP

Sergio Romo: PROs: Consistently elite skills, RH bats still have no chance against his slider. CONs: Second-half fade reminds us about stamina worries and elbow concerns, two years of big Dom erosion became even worse late in ’13. He remains an elite closer and near 40-Sv lock for now, but he’s more risky than his stats and skills show. (Nickrand)
2012: 1.79 ERA, 14 SV in 55 IP
2013: 2.54 ERA, 38 SV in 60 IP
2014: 3.72 ERA, 23 SV in 58 IP

 Hector Rondon:One-time top CLE prospect returned from TJ surgery and showed the Ctl problems typical of a first season back, but found his stride and finished strong in Sept (9 IP, 4.0 Cmd, 2.85 xERA). By year's end, was being mentioned as a 2014 setup candidate, and 2009 BPV shows he owns the skills to succeed. (Truesdell)
2013: 0 Sv, 4.77 ERA in 55 IP
2014: 29 Sv, 2.42 ERA in 63 IP

Tyson Ross: Huge breakout, masked only by a poor team and IP lost to left (non-throwing) shoulder injury. Found command of a beastly slider and became one of the toughest SP to hit in the NL, with a GB lean to boot. 2nd half was the really big jump, but is this his new level? So many strong signs... UP: 15 Wins, 3.00 ERA. (Truesdell)
2013: 3 wins, 3.17 ERA in 125 IP
2014: 13 wins, 2.81 ERA in 196 IP

Chris Sale: While W/L doesn't don't show it, this was another step up. DOM/DIS% highlights reliability—only one PQS DISaster all year, way back in April. In 2012, his one flaw was a 2nd half fade; not this time. Now, there's scarcely a blemish to find, other than pitching for a poor team. A Cy Young candidate. (Truesdell)
2013: 11 wins, 3.07 ERA in 214 IP
2014: 12 wins, 2.17 ERA in 174 IP

Jeff Samardzija may have lost some steam after that heavy 1st half workload, but xERA confirms his 2nd half fade wasn't as bad as ERA suggests. Bad home stats (4.76 ERA at Wrigley, 3.91 road) were the reverse of 2012, and shouldn't repeat. Mostly kept Ctl gains. In short, this is two straight years of excellent skills. UP: sub-3.50 ERA. (Truesdell)
2013: 8 wins, 4.34 ERA in 214 IP
2014: 7 wins, 2.99 ERA in 220 IP

Anibal Sanchez: Right up front: Yes, this was a fine skills step up. However, regression analysis and that 2nd half xERA both say not to expect another sub-3 ERA. He also missed more time with injury, and now at age 30, that elusive 200 IP season is looking more and more unlikely. So let someone else take the bidding over $20. DN: see 2010-12. (Truesdell)
2012: 9 wins, 3.86 ERA in 196 IP
2013: 14 wins, 2.57 ERA in 182 IP
2014: 8 wins, 3.43 ERA in 126 IP

Ervin Santana: Per ERA, he's the Jekyll and Hyde of pitchers. But toss out what looks like an aberrant 1st half, and skills are actually very consistent. Why is 1st half the outlier? Ctl has never been that good, and had already started to regress by June. So base your bid on the 3.90-4.30 xERA skills foundation, not the dart throw of ERA. (Truesdell)
2013: 3.24 ERA in 211 IP
2014: 3.95 ERA in 196 IP

Max Scherzer: Main difference between this season and last? A league-leading 6.80 in average run support. Now, before you go all Leyland on us, this was a great and even more consistent year (note IP, DOM/DIS%). But you can see the BPV similarity to '12. You can also see that history and 2nd half xERA imply a small regression is in the offing. (Truesdell)
2013: 21 wins, 2.90 ERA in 214 IP
2014: 18 wins, 3.19 ERA in 220 IP

Drew Smyly will enter the DET rotation after the trade of Doug Fister. He was used in the DET bullpen in 2013 to get out tough lefties, and few were better in that role: 8.9 Dom, 1.6 Ctl, 54% GB%. He was nearly as unhittable against RH bats: 10.2 Dom, 2.4 Ctl, 35% GB%. He features three good pitches: four-seam fastball, slider, and cutter. Expect Smyly to have a pretty smooth transition to the rotation. (Nickrand)
2013: 2.37 ERA, 1.04 WHIP in 76 IP
2014: 3.24 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in 153 IP

Joakim Soria: Neftali Feliz is the current favorite to close on Opening Day. The BPIs are solid, but not as spectacular as one might think, especially the 49% FB rate. Soria has far better projections than Feliz, with a 10.1 DOM, 3.1 CMD and 0.8 HR/9, backed by a 46% GB rate and 118 BPV. Soria is the superior skills option. (Dennis)
2013: 3.80 ERA, 5.3 Ctl, 78 BPV, 0 SV in 24 IP
2014: 3.25 ERA, 1.2 Ctl, 164 BPV, 18 SV in 44 IP

Rafael Soriano: 40 saves in 3 of 4 years will keep him one of the first closers to go off the board in many leagues, but not so fast. Early shoulder problems, four years of FB velocity loss, and steep Dom reduction are all warning signs, as are two 4+ xERAs in last three years. Don’t roster him as your top stopper without a backup plan. DN: 2011 (Nickrand)
2012: 2.26 ERA, 42 SV in 68 IP
2013: 3.11 ERA, 43 SV in 67 IP
2014: 3.19 ERA, 32 SV in 58 IP

Drew Storen: On surface, a lost season that saw him fall out of closer talk. High hit rate got him in 1st half; depressed strand rate doomed him after break. No reason for panic as other skills were fine, and GB% should bounce back given pre-’13 trend. 100+ BPV in 3 of 6 months confirms he’s still an elite plan B. Now’s the time to buy low. (Nickrand)
2012: 2.37 ERA, 54% GB%, 125 BPV, 4 SV in 30 IP
2013: 4.52 ERA, 41% GB%, 126 BPV, 3 SV in 62 IP
2014: 1.12 ERA, 53% GB%, 116 BPV, 11 SV in 56 IP

Marcus Stroman: Although he has not yet reached Triple-A, and only has 119 innings pitched at Double-A, his 2013 MLEs indicate a 2.0 Ctl, 9.0 Dom, 3.74 ERA and a 115 BPV, which the Jays would be glad to see in the back end of their rotation. (Dodge)
2014: 1.9 Ctl, 7.6 Dom, 3.65 ERA, 118 BPV in 151 IP

Masahiro Tanaka Japan ace pitched like it again, and unlike some who came before him, he’s still young enough to experience a growth curve in MLB. Arrival date in USA remains up in air, as it’s based on when he will get posted. Elite command, age all support a successful transition to the big leagues once opportunity comes. (Nickrand)
2013: 24 wins, 1.27 ERA, 132 BPV in 199 IP
2014: 13 wins, 2.77 ERA, 155 BPV in 136 IP

Julio Teheran: A case study in why post-hype targets can be profit centers. This former top prospect’s K surge came with full SwK support, and three years of improving Ctl tells us he hasn’t reached ceiling yet, even if xERA points towards some minor regression. A strikeout pitch vs. LH bats brings the next step... UP: sub-3.00 ERA, 200 K (Nickrand)
2013: 3.20 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 170 K in 186 IP
2014: 2.89 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 186 K in 221 IP

Chris Tillman:A fine follow-up to surprising '12, and this may just be the start. So many encouraging nuggets in the rather gaudy across-the-board 2nd half skills growth--GB, Dom and SwK all up, better Ctl. Of course, doing it over a full season is another challenge, but age & this growth suggest far more upside than down... UP: sub-3.50 ERA. (Truesdell)
2013: 16 wins, 3.71 ERA in 206 IP
2014: 13 wins, 3.34 ERA in 207 IP

Yordano Ventura: Little guy with a big arm (fastball touches 100 mph) and secondary offerings that are still something of a work-in-progress. Has top-of-rotation potential, and if he really is figuring out Ctl as quickly as MLE suggests, he could get there quickly... UP: 14 Wins, 3.25 ERA, 180 K. (Murphy)
2013: 0 Wins, 3.52 ERA in 15 IP
2014: 14 Wins, 3.20 ERA with 159 K in 183 IP