FACTS/FLUKES: Godley, Newcomb, Longoria, A. Cabrera, Iannetta

Godley poised for stellar encore ... Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) wildly exceeded expectations in 2017, when he put up a 3.37 ERA across 26 outings (25 starts). Currently the 34th starting pitcher off the board with an NFBC ADP of 130, is he a worthy target in upcoming drafts?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV 
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2015*  61  4.10  3.90  4.1  6.5  1.6  58%  12%  46/22/32  27  72   13%   50
2016* 157  5.64  5.63  3.1  6.6  2.1  55%  12%  54/18/28  34  66   19%   41
2017* 183  3.30  2.79  3.4  9.2  2.7  61%  14%  55/19/26  28  73   15%  102
*Includes MLEs

Godley's track record of success is short, but he certainly possesses some intriguing skills:

  • He does a great job of keeping the ball on the ground, and posted a 0.7 hr/9 on the road in 2017. His 1.1 mark at home wasn't as impressive, but his heavy ground ball lean, combined with the expected presence of the humidor at Chase Field, should help him limit the home runs in 2018. 
  • Albeit in a small sample, Godley's 2015-16 SwK hinted at some strikeout upside, and he made the leap in 2017, supported by an even better SwK. For whatever reason, Godley sports a 5.3 career Dom in 73.2 career innings at Double-A, and a 9.5 mark in 484.1 innings elsewhere.
  • He had a 3.0 Ctl through the end of July, but was a little wild late in the year, with a 3.8 Ctl over his final 10 appearances. Getting his FpK up slightly above league average is an indication walks won't be a major problem for him going forward.  
  • Godley featured an interesting combination in 2017: the percentage of pitches swung at in the strike zone against him ranked fifth lowest in the majors (Minimum 100 IP). When batters chased outside of the zone, their contact rate against his pitches were fourth lowest in the game, behind only Kluber, Salazar, and Ray.

Godley made a huge impact for owners that picked him up off the waiver wire in 2017, and though his surface stats slipped a bit during the second half, his skills remained excellent. It's not always easy, or smart, to buy into a player after one good year, but Godley offers a lot of appealing qualities. He keeps the ball down, he missed bats even before the Dom surged, and his new home park is expected to dramatically shift in the pitchers' favor beginning this season. Even if his price goes up a bit, Godley looks like a rock solid investment for 2018 and beyond.

 

Newcomb still fine tuning his command ... Sean Newcomb (LHP, ATL) posted a nifty 1.48 ERA in his first four starts following a June call-up in 2017. The wheels then fell off, though, as he recorded a 5.23 mark (and 1.73 WHIP) in his 15 subsequent starts, resulting in a 4.32 ERA for the season. Can the 24-year-old take a step forward in 2018?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2016* 140  5.64  4.25  5.3   8.7  1.4  N/A  N/A     N/A    35  63   N/A   79
2017# 158  4.13  4.44  5.3   9.8  1.8  59%  12%  44/23/33  34  75   11%   79
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
2H 17  76  5.23  4.83  5.8  10.3  1.8  56%  12%  42/24/34  37  71   13%   49
*MLEs
#Includes MLEs

There's one glaring flaw in Newcomb's skill set:

  • Starting with a positive, he was able to generate swings and misses at a pretty high rate, leading to more than a strikeout per inning.
  • The walks were piling up quickly, a problem that worsened as the season progressed. The combination of a poor Fpk and a 4.8 career minor league Ctl don't inspire much confidence that he's on the verge of fixing the issue.
  • He did have some bad luck on balls in play, particularly in the second half, but xERA proves that misfortune can't explain all of his struggles. 

Newcomb showed right away that he can be a strong strikeout source, but he was a ratio killer during the second half of 2017. Given his poor Ctl, he's constantly playing with fire, and most, if not all, signs point to his control issues continuing to linger, at least in the short-term. The shiny K projections may tempt owners to gamble on Newcomb, but probably won't be enough to offset the inflated ERA and WHIP that he's almost certain to provide. 

 

Can Longoria excel in San Fran? ...   After spending the past 10 seasons in Tampa, Evan Longoria (3B, SF) was dealt to San Francisco, a team that is attempting to fill a major void they had at third base in 2017. Does he look like the answer?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f 
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2013  614  32  .269  .264   10   74  37/19/45  32   127  164  173   16%
2014  624  22  .253  .249    8   79  39/21/40  29   109  105  118   11% 
2015  604  21  .270  .254    8   78  39/21/40  31   105  111  121   11%
2016  633  36  .273  .276    6   77  32/21/47  30   113  148  146   16%
2017  613  20  .261  .266    7   82  43/20/37  29   114   91   91   11%
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
17 2H 294   8  .265  .263    5   84  41/20/39  29   114   82   84    8%

Longoria should be an upgrade for the team, but probably not a difference maker for our purposes:

  • Following a major power rebound in 2016, both his PX and xPX were below average for the first time in his career in 2017, while his fly ball rate fell to a career low mark as well. Playing half of his games in a park that reduces RHB home runs by 26 percent doesn't help his chances to bounce back.
  • His struck out less than ever before, and bumped his contact rate up to 85 percent during the final two months of the season. His numbers during that time weren't very impressive, though, as he hit .243/.294/.371 with four homers from August 1 through the end of the year.
  • Owners have been able to count on Longoria to take the field every day. He has recorded at least 670 plate appearances in each of the past five seasons, ranking fourth in the majors in the category during that time.

Longoria is no longer one of the top third basemen in the game, but still offers decent pop, a respectable batting average, and top notch durability. His track record suggests that his power metrics should rebound to some extent in 2018, but not back to 2016 levels, and his new home park will likely mask those gains. Longoria's most likely scenario for this coming season is something along the lines of a repeat of 2017, making him a decent fallback option, but certainly not an impact player.

 

Cabrera still getting it done ... Asdrubal Cabrera (2B, NYM) isn't the most exciting player to roster, but returned double digit value for the seventh consecutive season in 2017, and qualifies at 2B, SS, and 3B. Is he a worthy investment at his modest price tag (308 NFBC ADP)?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f  Spd  SBO  
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====  ===  ===
2013  508  14/9   .242  .256   6    78  36/23/41  29   107  118  138    9%   92  11%  
2014  553  14/10  .241  .250   8    80  38/19/42  28   118  105  126    8%  108   9%
2015  505  15/6   .265  .248   7    79  36/21/44  31    91  107  107    9%  101   7%
2016  521  23/5   .280  .273   7    80  37/23/40  31   119  114  142   14%   79   5%
2017  479  14/3   .280  .267   9    83  43/20/36  31   123   90  115   10%   81   4%

Cabrera's skills indicate he has something left in the tank:

  • His 2016 power production looks like an outlier in the chart above, and his fly ball rate slipped in 2017. Still, he makes a lot of hard contact, and looks like a good bet to contribute 15 or so homers again.
  • Improvements in hard contact and a small reduction in strikeouts have fueled a BA surge the past two seasons, which has been supported by xBA. He also drew more walks than usual last season, leading to a 0.60 Eye that matched his career best. 
  • He's been running less and less on the bases, and no longer looks like a threat for double digit steals.

The 32-year-old Cabrera doesn't offer much upside at this point in his career, but he is still a productive player. He offers above average power, has recently shown an improved approach at the plate, leading to a .280 batting average in each of the past two seasons, and brings to the table multi-positional eligibility, enhancing his value in most formats. While many owners are chasing high risk ceilings late in drafts, the boring yet reliable Cabrera looks like a bargain at his current price. 

 

Iannetta back in Colorado ... Coming off back-to-back down years, Chris Iannetta (C, COL) provided plenty of power in 2017, when he hit 17 home runs in just 272 at-bats. Now back in Colorado, he's typically the 18th catcher off the board in NFBC leagues (282 ADP). Is he someone owners should be targeting?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA  OPSvR  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f  
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  =====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2013  325  11  .225  .218   .663   17   69  37/19/43  29    97  115  125   11%
2014  306   7  .252  .233   .697   14   70  38/21/41  34    93  125  100    8%
2015  272  10  .188  .196   .575   13   69  39/13/48  23    80  105  105   11%
2016  295   7  .210  .224   .557   11   72  41/22/36  27   102   83   94    9%
2017  272  17  .254  .259   .823   12   68  37/20/42  31    98  166  131   22%

Iannetta's skills have fluctuated a lot in recent years:

  • He struck out slightly more than usual in 2017, but a hit rate correction enabled him to provide a respectable batting average. Now in a park that increases RHB BA by 18 percent (Chase Field was +11%), his average may not repeat, but probably won't completely collapse, either.
  • His fly ball rate has really bounced around, but his 2017 number matched his career norm, and is in line with expectations moving forward. However, the power numbers and home run per fly ball rate were well above anything he had shown lately, so while Coors Field will help, the pace he was on looks unsustainable.
  • Iannetta surprisingly hit RHP well in 2017, as his 11 home runs against them matched his total from the previous three seasons combined. Some bad luck had contributed to his struggles against them the previous two years (23 percent hit rate), so splitting the difference seems reasonable.
  • He does a nice job of drawing walks, which gives his value an additional boost in leagues that use on-base-percentage.

After resurrecting his career in 2017, Iannetta has found the perfect landing spot in 2018, as he'll get to play half of his games at Coors Field. Last year's pace will be impossible to maintain, as peak skills from a 34-year-old don't often repeat. Four hundred plus plate appearances can't be written in stone, either, as he hasn't reached that number since 2011. That being said, question marks surround all of the catchers being taken outside of the top 10, and plus power and Coors Field is typically a combination worth gambling on. 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.