STARTERS: Skills surgers and faders, 2017

With an eye towards stretch-run targets, let's take a look at the SP whose aggregate skills have changed the most from 2016 to 2017.

  • BPV Surgers & Faders, 2017 YTD vs. 2016*
    
    Name                League  BPV 2017  BPV 2016  Diff
    ==================  ======  ========  ========  ====
    Nelson, Jimmy           NL     145        37    +108
    Berrios, Jose           AL     100         6     +93
    Samardzija, Jeff        NL     170        93     +77
    Karns, Nathan           AL     145        71     +74
    Severino, Luis          AL     153        85     +67
    Godley, Zack            AL     123        56     +67
    Sale, Chris             AL     200       137     +63
    Clevinger, Mike         AL      73        13     +60
    Hernandez, Felix        AL     112        54     +58
    Corbin, Patrick         NL     111        54     +58
    Kluber, Corey           AL     185       129     +56
    Greinke, Zack           NL     152        98     +54
    Hahn, Jesse             AL      57         8     +49
    Wood, Alex              NL     169       127     +41
    McCullers, Lance        AL     153       112     +40
    Straily, Dan            NL      95        55     +40
    Richard, Clayton        NL      75        35     +40
    Anderson, Chase         NL      96        57     +39
    Happ, J.A.              AL     117        81     +36
    Gray, Sonny             AL     110        75     +35
    Eflin, Zach             NL      63        28     +35
    Keuchel, Dallas         AL     135       104     +31
    Cole, Gerrit            NL     116        85     +31
    Gallardo, Yovani        AL      43        12     +31
    Bauer, Trevor           AL     111        81     +30
    McCarthy, Brandon       NL      70        41     +30
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Name                League  BPV 2017  BPV 2016  Diff
    ==================  ======  ========  ========  ====
    Verlander, Justin       AL      52       132     -80
    Guerra, Junior          NL      -3        71     -74
    Teheran, Julio          NL      38       108     -70
    Butler, Eddie           NL     -14        49     -63
    Boyd, Matt              AL      28        89     -61
    Harvey, Matt            NL      27        86     -59
    Tillman, Chris          AL       1        58     -57
    Gausman, Kevin          AL      61       116     -54
    Hellickson, Jeremy      NL      39        93     -54
    Norris, Daniel          AL      56       110     -53
    Hamels, Cole            AL      43        96     -53
    Duffy, Danny            AL      74       126     -52
    Darvish, Yu             AL     106       156     -51
    Cashner, Andrew         AL       2        52     -49
    Cueto, Johnny           NL      75       125     -49
    Snell, Blake            AL       5        54     -49
    Gonzalez, Miguel        AL      23        68     -45
    Davies, Zach            NL      56       101     -45
    Shoemaker, Matt         AL      73       117     -44
    Jimenez, Ubaldo         AL      12        49     -38
    Hendricks, Kyle         NL      80       117     -36
    Urena, Jose             NL      34        70     -36
    Hill, Rich              NL     105       140     -35
    Eickhoff, Jerad         NL      71       104     -33
    Gibson, Kyle            AL      18        50     -32
    Price, David            AL      97       129     -32
    Nola, Aaron             NL     115       146     -31
    Cain, Matt              NL      22        53     -31
    *min 40 IP each season
    
    

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Jose Berrios (RHP, MIN) has converted his upside into results in his sophomore MLB campaign. After posting stats in 2016 that were unrosterable (8.02 ERA, 1.87 WHIP) and skills that were just as bad (6 BPV), he has blossomed so far in 2017 (3.50 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). The key has been improvement in his command sub-indicators: 8.2% to 9.6% SwK%, 55% to 61% FpK%, 42% to 38% ball%. If he can pound the strike zone even more, Berrios stands a great shot at continuing his growth.

Mike Clevinger (RHP, CLE) has posted some very good stats in 2017 (2.73 ERA, 1.12 WHIP). But those marks have not come with much skill support: 10.0 Dom, 4.5 Ctl, 39% GB%, 75 BPV. That said, this has been a big growth year for Clevinger (13 BPV in 2016), and his 13.4% SwK% as a SP represents a 30% increase over the mark he showed in 2016. There's some hidden upside here.

Sonny Gray (RHP, OAK) has rebounded nicely in 2017 (3.66 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) after a terrible 2016 (5.69 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). And that improvement has been backed by significant growth in Gray's skills: 8.4 Dom, 2.8 Ctl, 55% GB%, 110 BPV. Like others mentioned here, a huge increase in Gray's swinging strike rate (8.0% to 11.8% SwK%) has fueled his turnaround.

Lance McCullers (RHP, HOU) entered the season as a high-upside SP with more risk than most, given his chronic control problems. While McCullers still has room for improvement in that area (56% FpK%, 37% ball%), his overall skills are firmly elite now (153 BPV). With a GB% on a two-year increase (46%-57%-63% GB%) and a 2.81 xERA, McCullers is a legit rotation anchor now.

Chris Sale (LHP, BOS) has increased his swinging strike rate more than any SP from 2016 to 2017 (11.3% to 16.3% SwK%). It's an increase that has helped him become the most skilled SP in the game (200 BPV). Sale is on his way to the AL Cy Young and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Luis Severino (RHP, NYY) has gone from a disappointing high-upside arm to one of the most effective pitchers in the game. And it hasn't been a one-month flash. Check out his BPV by month: 196, 124, 158, 139 BPV. Credit huge jumps in his command sub-indicators for his 2017 gains: 7.9% to 12.1% SwK%, 60% to 65% FpK%, 37% to 34% ball%. Severino is another young SP whose ability to keep the ball on the ground gives him more room for error than most. No reason to sell high here.

Justin Verlander (RHP, DET) is posting skills in 2017 that represent the biggest decline in the game (132 BPV in 2016, 52 BPV in 2017). While his fastball is sitting comfortably in the mid-90s now, he's not missing as many bats (9.3% SwK%), nor is he getting strikes as early (60% FpK%) or often (36% ball%). He's still someone who could turn it on in a pennant chase, so don't dismiss him if he gets traded to a contender. But don't expect significant improvement otherwise.
 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Chase Anderson (RHP, MIL) owns a nifty 2.89 ERA and 1.11 WHIP so far in 2017, huge gains from the stats he posted in 2016 (4.33 ERA, 1.36 WHIP). While a 28% H%, 77% S%, and 8% hr/f have fueled his sub-3 ERA, he does own solid skills (96 BPV), much better than those he put up in 2016 (57 BPV). His swinging strike rate has jumped from 8.2% to 10.6% as well.

Patrick Corbin (LHP, ARI) might not seem like someone worth targeting given his 4.43 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. But few SP have enjoyed a bigger skills growth from 2016 (54 BPV) to 2017 (111 BPV) than Corbin has. An inflated 36% H% has been the real reason for his surface struggles. With an elite 152 BPV over the last 30 days that has been supported by a top-tier 14% SwK% and 70% FpK% combo, Corbin makes for a prime stretch-run target.

Zack Godley (RHP, ARI) has gotten ahead of hitters at a much higher rate in 2017 (63% FpK%) than he did in 2016 (52% FpK%). He also has increased his swinging strike rate a ton (11.0% to 14.5% SwK%). Those jumps in his command sub-indicators have driven the big improvements in skills from 2016 (56 BPV) to 2017 (123 BPV).

Jimmy Nelson (RHP, MIL) has experienced the biggest jump in swinging strikes than any pitcher in the NL (7.4% to 11.6% SwK%). It's the reason his skills have exploded. After showing poor skills in 2016 (37 BPV), Nelson has developed into one of the best SP in the NL: 9.9 Dom, 2.3 Ctl, 50% GB%, 145 BPV.

Jeff Samardzija (RHP, SF) might profile as a SP whose skills will always be better than his results. Before you follow suit, keep in mind that his skills have reached a whole new level in 2017 (170 BPV) compared to 2016 (93 BPV). His stats haven't made similar gains due to a trifecta of bad luck: 34% H%, 62% S%, 17% hr/f. Those marks for him last season were much more normalized: 29% H%, 72% S%, 12% hr/f. Don't give up on him.


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