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Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: JUSTIN VERLANDER SP DETROIT TIGERS

Yeah so this one was obvious.  Well obvious to yours truly who put in print both in this past spring's Fantasy Sports Boss Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide and all over this site on multiple occasions to avoid the bust that I saw Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander to be.  In other words, his current 4.87 ERA and 1.41 WHIP are far from a surprise from this peanut stand and it was his very murky outlook on a number of fronts that had me avoiding him in the Experts League draft.

So let's take a quick trip down memory lane shall we?  From 2014-15, Verlander looked like he was toast as his fastball lacked zip, his ERA and home run rates rose, and it seemed like all those years of 220-plus innings had sapped the pop from his arm.  Thus a 6.95 K/9/4.54 ERA in 2014 was followed by a mini-rebound in 2015 that saw those numbers improve to 7.63 and 3.38.  Be that as it may, Verlander was still a guy I told you to avoid for 2016 in thinking his ace days were a thing of the past.  Then Verlander goes out and strikes out an insane 254 batters (10.04 K/9) and a 3.04 ERA as he challenged for the AL Cy Young and reclaimed fantasy baseball ace status.  With the fastball gaining some life again and the durability always impressive, Verlander went back into the circle of trust for many in the fantasy baseball community as 2017 drafts came around.  Not me as I argued that Verlander's 2016l while impressive on the surface; was still troubling underneath the hood.

Digging into the 2016 advanced numbers, the first red flag centered on Verlander's lucky .255 BABIP which was completely unsustainable.  When adjusted, Verlander's FIP ERA came out to 3.48 and his XFIP 3.78.  Not terrible ERA's but not ace level either.  Then there was Verlander's 1.19 HR/9 rate which was an incredibly high number,  A high HR/9 rate is deadly on aging pitchers as leaking velocity is a bad combination with that number.  So I said to avoid Verlander with good scientific reasoning.

Fast forward to present time and Verlander is a mess.  What is really comical is that Verlander's 4.87 ERA should be WORSE as his .284 BABIP is still in lucky territory.  Then there is even WORSE home run problems as Verlander's HR/9 rate is as high as any starter in the game at 1.33.  There is also the huge control problems Verlander is having as his 4.28 BB/9 is horrendous.  Verlander is fighting his stuff like crazy and age no doubt is a factor.  Finally, Verlander's K/9 rate has sank from 10.04 last season to its present 8.56.

So when you put it all together, nothing Verlander is doing is helping his owners.  This all could have been prevented if you trusted my analysis but some don't listen.  I don't think things will get much better (although they really can't get worse) and so Verlander is already stamping himself as a prime bust for 2017.


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