Apparently there was a widely rumored near-deal between the Mariners and Rays in January, and it eventually fell apart due to the post-season diagnosis of Ray starter Jeremy Hellickson with elbow issues that required surgery.
The upshot was that supposedly an “SP” (starting pitcher) would go back to Seattle and the deal was “not 1-for-1” (meaning Nick Franklin-plus, apparently), and that the long-time M’s blogger Jeff Sullivan viewed the “SP” as “not good enough.”
Now, without going into too much “inside baseball” (ha!), it seems possible from both sides that Chris Archer was the one: in that the Rays’ blogger thought Archer would require more than just Franklin, and that Jeff Sullivan might well have thought he was not good enough a return.
OK, let’s just look at his spreadsheet, then. And since he was a rookie, we’ll look at both his minor-league and MLB results.
Here’s the minor league data, which misses his first two (age-17 and age-18) seasons, since we don’t have full batting-against data prior to 2008:
|Year||Age||Lvl||HR%||BB%||XBH + BB%||ISO||K%||PSA+||Conv+||Comp|
|Age Arc||Goal < 1%||Goal < 6%||Goal < 14%||Goal < .100||Goal > 20%||Strong prospect > 100|
And here’s his MLB chart:
It may take awhile to digest, but something very strange went on there.
Archer had a huge problem with walks in the minors. Huge. And, while sometimes he dominated hitters, there were also plenty of times he got hit hard.
Then, suddenly, in 2013 he dove well below league average in walk rate (from 5.0 BB/9 to 2.7 BB/9), and also was relatively hard to hit.
He ended up third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. And why not? Those were good numbers.
But was it “real”? Can a guy with “command/control” issues his whole career suddenly not only be “cured” but actually go the other way and have command as a strength?
And here’s two reasons I’m skeptical:
- He pitched in the majors in 2012, and pitched quite well, but didn’t get the “magical” drop in BB-rate.
- He pitched in AAA the first part of 2013, and, again, no magical drop in walks.
In other words, my sense is that Archer is over-valued right now because I don’t think his BB-rate will stay as low as it was in 2013. But, he is still an impressive young pitcher, and probably is somewhat comparable (in terms of actual value) to a RH James Paxton, a guy with great ability, some bumps in the road, and a taste of MLB success.
In that regard, Franklin alone is probably a fair trade, but Franklin-plus would bother me.