Stash Corbin Burnes and Don’t Give Up on This Hitter
While we are still dealing with a small sample size, we are at the point in the season where Stat Cast data has accumulated and is available to the masses! It is always fun once we have that needed sample size of about two or three weeks, as it is just more statistical information we have available to us as we try to predict the future and make the best moves for our fantasy teams. Looking through the leader board on Baseball Savant led me to dive deep into one pitcher in particular.
Meet Corbin Burnes
When heading over to check out average spin rate among pitches, I saw that one name was toward the top in every pitch he throws. That pitcher is Corbin Burnes. In fact, no pitcher comes close to the spin rate Burnes has on his fastball. Currently, he is averaging 2,792 spins with his four-seam fastball, while the next closest is Jose Leclerc at 2,669. Burnes also has the most spin of all pitchers who throw a sinker, coming in with an average of 2,709. He has the second most spin of all cutters (2,929) and sliders (3,075), while his curveball has the sixth most spin (3,032). For those wondering, spin rate is important because it typically leads to more movement on pitches. For instance, you can see that Burnes has increased vertical movement on some of his pitches in 2019 (thanks to Brooks Baseball):
Movement on pitches leads to swings and misses, which has certainly been the case for Burnes so far this season. He is averaging 13.19 K/9 and has a 30 percent strikeout rate, along with a 14.2 percent swinging strike rate. That is a lot of swinging miss stuff. He has a swinging strike rate of at least 10 percent on three of his pitches, and of at least 20 percent on two of his pitches so far this season. His best swinging strike pitch has been his slider, which he has a 38.9 percent swinging strike rate on so far this season. Additionally, good luck to batters when they get to two strikes against Burnes. When he gets batters to two-strikes he throws his slider 36 percent of the time and has a whopping 80 percent strikeout rate with it. His other go-to pitch in that scenario is his fourseam, which he throws 45 percent of the time with two strikes and punches batters out a quarter (25 percent) of the time.
Burnes has really just had one issue and that is the long ball. So far this season Burnes has a 64.3 percent home run to fly ball rate, which would shatter the all-time record of 21.2 percent by Masahiro Tanaka in 2017. That number is going to normalize and Burnes’ 10.05 ERA is going to come down to be a lot closer to his 3.28 xFIP. In fact, to get his ERA down to that, he is going to pitch even better than that rate! He has been hanging pitches and simply allowing entirely too many home runs, but it is simply unsustainable.
He will have to further work on limiting hard contact, but Burnes is an arm that I am looking to stash right now, as the swing-and-miss stuff is there, as is the command. In fact, he has been throwing in the zone 46 percent of the time, while league average for starters is 43.7 percent. Additionally, his 61.4 percent first-pitch strike is above league average of 60.5 percent.
He is not without flaws, but he really does have me intrigued. He’s owned in 71 percent of Fantrax leagues, but that number is smaller on other sites. If you can afford to take an upside stash, I would recommend checking the waiver wire or shooting a low-ball offer!
Don’t Give Up On Franmil Reyes
I understand that the playing time in the Padres outfield has been… well flat out annoying. They simply have too many options and outside of Wil Myers, no one is guaranteed playing time. However, Reyes has by far the biggest positive difference in actual slugging percent (.488) and expected Slugging (.811), good for a difference of -.323. The closest to him is Jordy Mercer, surprisingly, who has a -.278 difference between the two. Reyes has a 52.8 percent hard-hit rate and a 47.2 percent flyball rate. The ball is going to leave the ballpark often once he heats up. Oh, and he also has the largest difference between batting average (.220) and expected batting average (.364) of -.144! Stick it out!
Daniel Vogelbach Is Awesome… Can He Keep It Up
Daniel Vogelbach has been red hot and is likely the biggest waiver wire name so far to start the season. He’s hitting .378 with six homers and 11 RBIs. I paid $9 out of $100 FAAB budget in a league last week when Jay Bruce first got hurt, but Bruce has since returned. Since then, the Mariners have gone out of their way to get the red hot hitter into their lineup. We saw Edwin Encarnacion play first on Sunday, while Bruce was in right field. They sat Encarnacion on Saturday. Before that, they were resting Bruce. However, there is clearly not a natural fit for him in the lineup and I do worry that his expected slugging percent (.675) is .298 points lower than his actual slugging percent (.973), the largest negative difference in the MLB. If he begins to cool off, do the Mariners use him more as a high-level bench bat?
I am not saying to sell by any means, but throw him on the block and see if you get a strong offer. I am not selling just to sell, but if I get a strong offer, I would accept.
Some others who have a slugging percentage at least 200 points lower than their expected slugging percent:
J.D. Martinez, -.271
Chris Davis, -.231
Kendrys Morales, -.225
Jesus Aguilar, -.222
All stats used were entering play on Monday.
Follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
Michael Florio is the winner of the 2018 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year and was a finalist for the 2017 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. He has hosted video/radio shows, written for a number of print and web publications including the AP, NY Daily News and much more!
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