This is Your Last Chance To Buy; Late April Edition
Shelby Miller – SP – Arizona Diamondbacks
There doesn’t appear to be a widely accepted excuse for Miller’s disgusting2016 season. I assume it was equal parts mental/stress, coaching and bad luck created by pitching to an awful catcher and in front of a horrible defense. It looks like that is behind him and he’s a different pitcher in the early going here in 2017. He hasn’t had that one dominant outing yet and is still acquirable in most leagues but I fear that it’s coming soon and your window to buy relatively cheaply will be slammed shut. The teams he’s faced so far rank 6th, 9th and 14th best in MLB in strikeout rate.
Miller is currently averaging a career high 95+ mph with his fastball, up over two full ticks from last year. Keep in mind that velocity readings appear to be measured differently this year, but from what I gather, he’s up over a full one and a half mph on the conservative end either way. This is good news for obvious reasons.
His pitch usage has dramatically changed. He has all but abandoned his change up in favor of his curve. This is fantastic news as his change was an awful pitch that rarely deceived or induced swings and misses. He’s throwing fewer four-seam fastballs and more cutters. In other words, he’s pitching like he’s never pitched before and it’s working. He’s throwing pitches in the strike zone roughly 10 percent more than he has in his career and allowing substantially less contact on those pitches in the zone. For context, his zone contact percentage right now (80.2%) would have ranked second last year among qualified starting pitchers, just behind Max Scherzer (79.0%).
Miller is square in his prime, throwing harder and more effectively than ever and your league-mates may not realize it yet. I urge you to reach out before it’s too late.
Nick Castellanos – 3B – Detroit Tigers
After Wednesday’s game, Castellanos is hitting .220 with just two home runs in over 60 plate appearances and there are some worried owners out there. There shouldn’t be.
A quick Statcast search on Baseball Savant reveals that he is in elite company early on in the exit velocity department. With a minimum of ten balls in play, Castellanos currently ranks 9th in MLB at an average of 95.0 mph. For reference, last season, that would have finished as the 6th highest average exit velocity in MLB, behind names like: Cruz, Judge and Stanton. His current “soft hit” percentage ranks 5th lowest behind Cabrera, Sano, Bruce & the younger Seager. He’s hitting the ball with a ridiculous amount of authority.
For his career, Castellanos has lived on the extreme end of the “fly ball revolution”. He was hitting fly balls long before they became cool. Since the beginning of 2014, only seven players who have recorded 1500 or more plate appearances, have a lower ground ball rate than Castellanos. Within the same set of players in the same time frame, his 1.8% pop-up rate ranks 4th best. His league averageish HR/FB rate appears to be a product of bad luck and a crappy home park.
All of that leads me to my only real point here. Players that hit the ball in the air as often, as hard and as efficiently as Castellanos simply do not exist. He is truly one of a kind and once the bad luck turns around, you’ll regret not moving on this guy today. The ceiling here is an elite home run hitting machine.