Baseball Duck Tales – 2017 Season Wrap (NL)

Updated: December 7, 2017

Amidst the Shohei Ohtani and Stanton madness (How exciting is this stuff?!) and basically nothing else (How boring is this stuff?), we continue our season wrap up of the 2017 Duck leaderboard, this time highlighting one standout Duck rating from the NL teams. As per usual for posterity, if you’re new to the series, the Duck is a combined calculation of a number of metrics to find an accessible representation of pitching performance. Check out the origins of the calculations here.

For reference, here are the 2017 league averages for starters according to Fangraphs:

  • SwStr%: 9.80%
  • K%: 20.60%
  • BABIP: 0.299
  • BB%: 8.10%
  • xFIP: 4.41
  • HardCon%: 32.30%
  • ERA: 4.49
  • WHIP: 1.36

Let’s take a look at some standout Ducks from the NL this year.

NL East

  • ATL: Julio Teheran (109th)
    • Was it really going to be anyone else? Teheran went from a very rock solid and safe top-25ish guy to doing almost nothing above league average. Part of it “could” be the new ballpark, but we don’t have nearly the data to confirm the ballpark will trend to a hitter’s haven. On top of that, Teheran’s BABIP hints that he might have even been a little lucky on balls in play. I’m not against him in general but there’s more downside than upside at this point.
  • MIA: Dan Straily (54th)
    • I like Dan Straily. There, I said it. I just feel that the range of outcomes is not very wide for him. He’s a boring pitcher, but eating innings is important throughout the fantasy season. One of the arguments against him: “But he plays for a garbage team so he won’t get wins!” My response: “Don’t use wins.”
  • NYM: Matt Harvey (147th)
    • I’m very sad. I just want Matt Harvey to be good again. I just want to believe that the injuries and the Adriana Lima debacle made him suck. I just want to be happy. Maybe the fear about returning from thoracic outlet surgery and never being the same is valid (despite the limited cases studies we have. I’m not a doctor.). I think if he looks at least goodish coming into the season, I’ll take the plunge one more time. Feel free to join me but I don’t want to take responsibility if we drown.
  • PHI: Aaron Nola (20th)
    • Aaron Nola is a star. There’s talk of him comfortably in the top 20 going into next season and the Duck doesn’t have issue with that. He’s another one of those “all green” players on the metric, and I don’t have nearly the same injury concerns that I have with the other all green mentioned in the last article (James Paxton). I’m happy with Nola as my SP2 or SP3 in 2018
  • WSH: Gio Gonzalez (93rd)
    • Obviously. This season-long excellence pretty much came as a pretty big surprise. Gio Gonzalez has been on the spectrum from “he’s a fine pitcher” to “oh, that was actually a pretty good season” for a long time. This was a step even further above that and I think it’s well established that we don’t expect something like this again. Still, there’s going to continue to be mid-round value that shouldn’t be ignored.

NL Central

  • CIN: Luis Castillo (29th)
    • Castillo is the new darling in many expert circles. He’s a little wild, but the strikeouts are very tantalizing. He’s going to be right there in the top 30 range for a lot of rankers, but I’m definitely wary of repeatable performance. I just don’t like the idea of taking him as a shiny new toy over someone like Jon Lester who has a track record of solid production for years.
  • CHC: Jon Lester (30th)
    • Speaking of Jon Lester… by all intents and purposes Jon Lester had a bad season. A 4.33 ERA is unheard of for Lester in recent memory. Still, the underlying numbers think he’s way better than advertised (another all green) and while I’m not a Lester guy (it’s mostly just his face, really) there are a plethora of worse options.
  • MIL: Jimmy Nelson (13th)
    • We need the DH in both leagues. It’s just a shame that Jimmy Nelson is going to miss half the season with a base running injury. After a few seasons of will he/won’t he become a guy, this last season he actually did become a guy, and that guy played a pivotal role in getting the Brewers to an unprecedented playoff berth. I can’t help but think it could have been a different story if both Nelson and Chase Anderson had been healthy. Still, there’s a chance Nelson is priced down significantly because of the injury, and could be a sneaky later round pick.
  • PIT: Gerrit Cole (35th)
    • Let me preface this: I think Gerrit Cole is good. I think he could still be great. But I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the numbers to this point have been disappointing. Someone who can dial it up to 98+ should theoretically be able to blow hitters away and he hasn’t shown that ability consistently. I wonder if this could be a change of scenery case. There have been talks of Cole to the Twins, and if that happens, I might just push him up my board a bit as a speculative upside play. We’ve seen it before, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t be a sub-3 ERA guy again.
  • STL: Lance Lynn (125th)
    • Lynn is going to be on another team next year, who will be looking for a stable 200 inning guy in the middle of their rotation to eat up innings in the dog days of the summer. I’ll note that Lynn hasn’t gotten to 200 innings in three seasons, but the idea is valid. I kind of think the Duck falls a bit short on this measure. The rating thinks he is far below average given the metrics, but I just feel like Lynn is a valuable middle rotation MLB piece and a valuable back end rotation fantasy piece and there’s just not a ton of questions there.

NL West

  • ARI: Zack Godley (24th)
    • We love Zack Godley. He’s just a fun player. Being able to keep the ball on the ground as he does is a great boon in that ballpark and ties in well with surprisingly high strikeout numbers. I feel as though he’ll be a little undervalued at the draft table, but I don’t see a lot of reasons he’s not going to be some shade of 2017 again.
  • COL: Jon Gray (22nd)
    • If he was on any other team, Jon Gray would be considered a true ace, a top-15ish starter, and someone you were okay with as your SP1.5 in fantasy. I’m very pro Gray and I think he’s the guy who will be the first pitcher to overcome Coors since Ubaldo Jimenez back in 2010. I dream of an ERA under 3.30.
  • LAD: Alex Wood (19th)
    • I bought into Wood after his first lengthy campaign in Atlanta in 2014, and it obviously didn’t play out as expected and I didn’t initially pay much mind to him putting together what ended up being an amazing season as a whole this season. The injury was there because of course we can’t have nice things. He faded down the stretch and that is some cause for concern but anywhere between 3.20 and 3.40 in 2018 would be a great follow-up season.
  • SD: Dinelson Lamet (77th)
    • Lamet is the epitome of risky flamethrower. The stuff is there, the consistency and the control are just not. An alarmingly high hard contact rate shows that if he wasn’t fanning or walking the hitters, he was turning around to watch the ball fly past him into the outfield. He seems like a big high risk/high reward play next season.
  • SF: Johnny Cueto (73rd)
    • There has been a lot of panic about Cueto and the fact that he had objectively an awful season. I guess I’m just not that worried. Just like Lester, this track record he’s shown matters. In a very early mock I was involved in, Cueto was available well into the mid-100 pick range, and I just think that’s silly. No one would be surprised if Cueto can get back to a low 3 ERA, especially in that home ballpark, and I would be drafting him pretty close to Lester as a proven commodity and take the fall if they’ve really gone off a cliff.

That’s a wrap of our brief look through the inaugural season of the Duck rating. I expect that we’ll check in before the season and preview the major pitcher signings and their outlooks in the upcoming season, so stay tuned!

All statistics pulled from Fangraphs leaderboards.

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