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Friday, May 12, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JASON VARGAS SP KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Jason Vargas starting the All-Star Game for the American League this July?  It is not as outlandish as one may think.  In a year where incredibly unexpected veteran performances have taken place such as what we have seen from Ryan Zimmerman, Jacoby Ellsbury, Yonder Alonso, and Michael Wacha, we have the Kansas City Royals veteran who at the age of 34 is having a season for the ages so far.  After a seven inning shutout where he gave up just three hits Thursday, Vargas has now lowered his ERA to a ridiculous 1.01 and his WHIP to a crazy 0.92.  All from a guy who went undrafted in most fantasy baseball leagues this season and who comes off a 2016 campaign that was completely derailed by injury.  While Vargas has proven himself to be a high-3.00 ERA SP 5 during his career, his overall impact screams out "middling starter" given the fact he was never a big K guy.  The whole script has been flipped though this season as Vargas is shining everywhere you look.

So let's dig in a bit more here to find out what is up.  As always advanced metrics can tell a lot of the story and predictably Vargas has gotten some BABIP help.  His .264 mark there is in the very lucky range as we had to figure and so when adjusted, Vargas' ERA comes out to 3.70 in the XFIP realm.  That 3.70 is much more in line with where Vargas has finished his typical seasons in the majors and so when the luck turns the other way, he is headed for a major uptick in that area.  On the positive side though, Vargas' K/9 has sailed over 7.75 the last two years, with both career-bests in that category.  That is no doubt helping Vargas lower his ratios and become a more in control pitcher.  Is it enough to make his 2017 legit?  Not a chance but Vargas could settle more in the 3.25 ERA range than 3.75-plus.  Looking in other columns, Vargas is helping himself greatly with career-best control (1.61 BB/9) and keeping the ball in the park (0.20), with the latter being a ridiculous and unsustainable number.

When looking at all of Vargas' numbers, there are a slew of outlier's compared to his career numbers and it is obvious to see the regression which will be on the way.  The problem is that selling high on Vargas is not going to happen as most in the fantasy baseball community know he is pitching over his head and expect that regression.  Thus the only way to play this is to hold Vargas and see if he can finish this out.  While I don't he comes anywhere near his current ratios by the conclusion of the season, Vargas could still be very solid.


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