The John Sickels 2015 annual arrived last night in my inbox, which isn’t quite as satisfying as getting a package in the mailbox, but it’s faster and cheaper. As is my tradition, I’ll break up discussing the book into two posts — one for hitters, one for the pitchers.
For the second straight year, there are 18 pitchers ranked while the number of position players has risen to
17 18 (yes, including Trea Turner). As we’ll see shortly, more than half of them are Grade “C,” which shouldn’t surprise anybody familiar with Sickels. Just five pitchers earned an “A” in the 2015 book, for example.
Sickels has the following guiding principles when it comes to pitchers…
…AA is the ultimate test for finesse pitchers, a.k.a. the
…K/BB ratio is a strong bellwether
…K/IP ratio can indicate “stuff” but not necessarily velocity
…H/IP ratio is a good complement to K/IP, but should be taken with a grain of salt given the variances in defense [and scorekeeping]
…However, when a low H/IP ratio is accompanied by a high K/IP, it’s a positive data point [and vice-versa]
…HR rate — all things being equal, young pitchers that don’t give a lot of HRs are better than those that do
Here’s a look at the 18 pitchers that made this year’s book (2014 Grade in parentheses)
|Lucas Giolito – A (A-)||Austin Voth – C+ (C)||Neil Holland – C (C)|
|A.J. Cole – B+ (B+)||Robert Benincasa – C (C)||Jake Johansen – C (C+)|
|Joe Ross – B (C+)||Abel De Los Santos – C||Gilberto Mendez – C|
|Erick Fedde – B-||Robbie Dickey – C||Nick Pivetta – C|
|Reynaldo Lopez – B-||Matt Grace – C||Jefry Rodriguez – C (C)|
|Felipe Rivero – C+ (B-)||Taylor Hill – C||Derek Self – C|
The names in bold are in Sickels’s book but not Baseball America’s, and it’s the same number as last year (four). This overlap used to be less, which may mean many things. The two most obvious inferences: (1) Sickels is less likely to go out on a limb (2) Baseball America is getting better about incumbency based on draft position.
Some quick tidbits…
…Sickels is among those that believe that Lopez’s size may shift him to the ‘pen. While I’d agree he’s a “college” 6’/185 lbs., he also appears more solidly built than say Gilberto Mendez (listed at 6’ and 170).
…Fedde’s grade is mostly due to conservatism, which I applaud. Yes, the success rate for TJ is high – but it ain’t 100 percent.
…Likewise, Pivetta is “only” a Grade C because of how wildly inconsistent his secondary pitches have been (“from poor to plus”).
…Sickels points to the improvement in K/IP and K/BB ratios for Joe Ross moving from a C+ to B.
….Finally, Voth is still “sleeper” material, but obviously now the word is out
Next up: the batters.