Here comes a swinging strike...
This week, we take a look at our first "September Star" pitcher: Daniel Hudson.
Hudson came over to the Diamondbacks in the trade that sent Edwin Jackson to the White Sox last season, and started 14 games (11 for the Diamondbacks) going:
7.9K/9—2.6BB/9—6.4H/9—2.45 ERA—1.00 WHIP
For comparison, Hudson's minor league career included the following stats:
10.6K/9—2.5BB/9—6.9H/9—2.90 ERA—1.05 WHIP
In August and September, Hudson went 7-1—1.69—0.84—70 in 79+ innings. Before we go extrapolating this 24-year-old phenom into the No.1 Fantasy Pitcher for 2011, let's dig into his numbers a little bit.
Upon review, two stats that concern me about his two-month peripherals are his flyball and strand rates.
Hudson's flyball rate last year was 45.5 percent (33 percent were infield flyballs). Ted Lilly was the MLB leader at 52.6 percent, and 33 percent of his were also of the infield type. That's a very high rate, especially for a pitcher that will pitch half of his games in one of the greatest hitters' parks in all of baseball: Chase Field.
Lilly, at least, gets to pitch in Chavez Ravine which is renowned for being one of the best pitchers' parks in all of baseball. Hudson has shown the ability in his minor league career to keep the ball in the ballpark, but I would expect some regression.
For argument's sake, Hudson led all starting pitchers not named Barry Enright with a Left-On-Base percentage of 83.1. In the minors, he bounced around between 64 and 76 percent, which means his 83.1 percent will correct itself and we'll begin to see his ERA climb. Example: Hudson's xFIP last season was 3.94, which was a run and a half higher than his actual ERA (2.45). His tERA was 3.65—still a difference of over a run.
Yes, correction is coming. But even a correction to the expected still shows us a great pitcher in the making while being more-than-serviceable in fantasy leagues. Hudson possesses three great pitches—fastball, slider, changeup—which allowed him to get a swinging strike 12 percent of the time, behind only Francisco Liriano at 12.4 percent for starters.
Not to be underrated is the Diamondbacks' team defense which scored a UZR rating of 58.3, which led all of baseball last year. This will allow him to keep some of these stats above the league average.
After looking at these numbers a little closer, I am moving Daniel Hudson down my draft sheet to 38 from my already-aggressive ranking of 26. I think his K-rate has room to move upwards, but his ERA and WHIP will correct a bit. I can see this team giving Hudson his fair share of losses while limiting his win total unfortunately.
My 2011 Daniel Hudson Projection: 14-10—3.75—1.15—185
Hudson is currently the No. 34 starting pitcher off the board, which is about the same as my ranking once you get into the middle of the draft. With young bucks like Hudson, and the fact it would be a middle round "gamble," I would have no reservation at reaching for this guy at or before No. 34 whatsoever. The problem is, a lot of other people probably feel the same way. With a modest ERA projection, I do think he has the stuff to post a mid-three ERA, which would bump him up a few rounds.
Hudson is currently posting a 3.48 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 8:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he has served up two home runs in 10+ spring innings.
Our sixth 2011 Nomination coming up: Madison Bumgarner.
Previous "September Stars" include:
Jose Bautista (Intro)