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Saturday, December 5, 2015

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALZYER: ZACK GREINKE SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

In what was a true Hot Stove shocker, the Arizona Diamondbacks swooped in seemingly out of nowhere on Friday and inked top tier ace starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year deal worth $206 million.  While Greinke got a bit overall less than the $217 million David Price signed for, his average of $34.33 million per year is the highest for any pitcher in history.  While you can debate the merits of giving so much money to a pitcher who is not exactly young at the age of 32 and with decreasing velocity, there is no denying the fact that Greinke is one of the most dominant starters in baseball and who comes off a truly epic 2015 campaign.  So with the ink still not dry on the deal, let's dig in again on Greinke in order to find out what he could do for an encore in 2016 fantasy baseball. 

First let's revisit the astronomical numbers Greinke put up in his ridiculous 2015 campaign that was more than worthy of a second career Cy Young. 

19-3
1.66 ERA
0.84 WHIP
200 K in 222.2 IP

The 1.66 ERA obviously stands out and that is a number we never thought we would see in the modern game of baseball.  Greinke was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball throughout the entire 2015 season as he gave up just 148 hits in those 222.2 innings which is a crazy number to say the least.  The fact of the matter is that Greinke's stuff still has incredibly movement on it which generates a ton of swings and misses, allowing the ace to reach the 200-K mark for the 5th time in his career.  What has also helped Greinke turn in his best season ever was his phenomenal 1.62 BB/9 and even more impressive 0.57 HR/9, the latter a career best.  Clearly pitching half his starts in spacious Dodger Stadium more than helped on the home run front but Greinke also has improved his walk totals almost on a yearly basis going back to his Kansas City Royals days.  Of course moving to Chase Field will result in more home runs going out on Greinke as that ballpark has annually been one of the more offensive parks in baseball.  Thus that alone will inch up the ERA and WHIP marks. 

In digging in more on the numbers, it is never a good idea in fantasy baseball to buy a player coming off a career year like Greinke is.  There is no chance Greinke will improve on his 1.66 ERA and the jump in that number should go over 2.00 given the new park.  In addition, Greinke's .229 BABIP was about as lucky a number as one could get in that category, with his FIP of 2.76 and XFIP of 3.22 showing that he should have had a much higher ERA with a more neutral number on that front.  Also don't look past the age issue as Greinke is already 32 and has a lot of mileage on his arm.  He has leaked velocity for three years now, with the fastball sitting just in the low 90's.  We see that in the drop in K/9 that Greinke put up through all the gaudy numbers last season as his 8.08 mark there was sizably lower than his 9.21 during 2014.  Another issue to keenly be aware of when grading out Greinke this season.

Ultimately when you put it all together, we think Greinke is a poor investment in 2016 fantasy baseball.  The ERA and WHIP will jump in Chase Field and the drop in K rate is a decent-sized red flag.  Also it will likely require you to spend a second round pick to get Greinke this season which would be a very poor decision since you never want to draft a starting pitcher that early.  Pitching runs so ridiculously deep that investing a high round pick on one is a colossal waste and instead you should be looking to build up your hitting.  Throw in the notion of never investing when a guy is coming off a career year and you can see it being the best strategy to pass on Greinke this season.

2016 PROJECTION:  15-9 2.57 ERA 1.14 WHIP 195 K 

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 2016 Baseball Forecaster: & Encyclopedia of Fanalytics (Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster)

The Fantasy Sports Boss 2016 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide: Early OffSeason Edition

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