By Russ Haigis (@RGH_2)
August 7, 2013
Don’t tug on Superman’s cape, don’t spit into the wind, don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger, and don’t draft a pitcher named Homer. Three of those well-known rules should always be followed. Dynasty owners may want to ignore the last one.
Players often carry multiple labels during their careers such as “top prospect”, “can’t-miss”, “over-rated”, “bust”, etc. If you are looking for a smart investment for this year and beyond, try an underrated player who has been labeled all of the above during his time in baseball; Homer Bailey. While many will use early draft picks or large portions of their auction budgets on big names, don’t forget this hidden gem from the NL Central. Oh, and he is now fully equipped with his new label: Undercover Ace.
Bailey, a first round selection in 2004, was drafted 5 picks after Justin Verlander and 5 picks before Jered Weaver. He got the call to the majors in 2007, and Bailey went through plenty of bumps and bruises as he honed his craft against major league hitters. In fact, through 2011 his ERA never dropped below 4.43. With the results not matching the pedigree, many wrote Bailey off as a failure. It seems like he has been around forever, and many people have looked past Bailey when assembling their teams. The savvy manager will ignore his bumpy past and focus more on what is important; Homer Bailey is on the verge of Ace-dom, and at the very worst should serve as a top-tier number 2 starter.
In 2013 Bailey carried an ADP of 187 according to ESPN and 173 on Yahoo. This means he was taken as approximately the 45th starting pitcher off the board, after the likes of Dan Haren, Josh Johnson, Tim Lincecum, and Yovanni Gallardo. Bailey is currently ranked as the 35th best starter according to Yahoo, but underneath the surface of a seemingly unimpressive ranking is an ocean of talent waiting to help you surge towards a championship.
At 27 years old, he is just entering his prime, and in 2013 he has a 6-10 Record, a 3.55 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 145 strikeouts in 144 innings. Solid numbers for sure, but not eye-popping. Not to sound like a late-night infomercial, but yes there is more! Bailey is 6th in the NL in strikeouts, 10th in K/9 at 9.04, and 7th in K/BB with 4.53. Although his ERA is less than sexy, his FIP is 2.79 slotting him behind such names as Kershaw, Harvey, Scherzer, Wainwright, King Felix, Anibal Sanchez and…that’s it. This means that Bailey is pitching better than his overall numbers show. Wins and losses can be fickle beasts, but after increasing his K/9 each year, and subsequently decreasing his BB/9, Bailey is finally starting to live up to the long forgotten hype.
Bailey already has thrown two no-hitters in his young career, but is still underrated due to names like Cueto and Latos headlining the Reds staff, and from pitching in a home stadium commonly referred to as a bandbox. Don’t let his home park deter you, as he has improved his home splits dramatically this season to the tune of a 2.68 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in only 66 innings. Although his success in the majors was not immediate, the underlying numbers suggest that we have an ironic future stud on our hands; a pitcher named Homer.
Sources: Yahoo, ESPN, Baseball Reference, FanGraphs