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Thomas McFeeley Staff Writer July 31, 2013 11:31AM EDT
There are a lot of baseball faces in new places today, so for this week’s Scratching the Surface, I thought I’d break down many of these players sabermetrically so we have a decent guess as to how they might fare the rest of the season, or over the long haul, in their new homes.

Jake Peavy: 8-4, 4.28 ERA, 1.12 WHIP.  Peavy is a different pitcher than the one who won a Cy Young award in San Diego. He throws 90 mph, down from the 93-94 mph of his best days, and he pitches to more contact.  Hitters chase more balls thrown outside the zone, and he possesses excellent control.

His ground ball rates hover around 35 percent and his fly ball percentages linger in the mid- to high-40s, which is a ratio Red Sox fans would like to reverse.  He strikes out 8.55 batters per 9 innings and walks 1.91 per nine.  Anytime a pitcher’s K:BB ratio is over 4:1, you should be encouraged. His HR/FB percentage is a touch high at 13 percent, but balls in play result in a .278 average, below the league average by almost 20 points.

Jake Peavy has been better than his numbers and will give the Red Sox a big boost.  Photo credit: vpking.

Jake Peavy has been better than his numbers and will give the Red Sox a big boost. Photo credit: vpking.

Overall, his ERA should be much closer to 3.50 and he will give the Red Sox a chance to win virtually every game he pitches. If healthy – maybe the biggest IF in baseball – he’s really a very good number two pitcher. The Sox want two good months and they should get them.

Ian Kennedy 3-8/5.23/1.42 WHIP – Kennedy is two seasons removed from his 21-4/2.88 ERA/1.09 WHIP campaign of 2011. What’s changed? Well his BB/9 rate Is 3.48 this season, more than a full walk higher than last season. Until that improves, Kennedy won’t get much better. He’s not been 5.23 ERA bad, but he’s not been pitching like a 4.00 ERA pitcher either.  He throws about 91 mph and averages almost 8 K/9.  His ground ball and fly ball rates are both just under 40 percent.

He allows homeruns on 12.5 percent of his fly balls, up a bit from his career average of 9.8 percent (his career low was in that 2011 season by the way). His LOB% (percentage of base runners left on base) is a low 66.5, down from a career average of 73.4 percent, which is around league average. That should get better, but I fear he’s only a 4.00 ERA pitcher who strikes out a decent number of hitters at this point in his career.

He does move to Petco Park, which is a much kinder to pitchers than his former home of Chase Field. The “new” Petco Park, though is only the 16th best when it comes to HRs per game this season. Chase Field, ironically, is 18th this season, but was number 10 and number six in 2012 and 2011.

Kennedy can be a 3.75 ERA guy, if he brings his walk rate down and if a few more fly balls fall into gloves rather than over the fence.  He’s a predictable risk and one worth taking, for both the Padres and your Fantasy team (if you need Ks and a steady 4.00 ERA). 

Bud Norris 6-9 record/3.93 ERA/1.41 WHIP I don’t mean to sound too blunt, but Bud Norris has the skillset of a relief pitcher and he will struggle as a starter in any park.

His GB/FB split is evenly divided at about 40 percent for each this season.  He has allowed HR on only 6.9 percent of fly balls, almost half as frequently as last season and well below his 10.7 career average. And pitching in Minute Maid Park this season – he’s been very lucky.  His 3.93 ERA should be 4.49 this season, according to his expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP). In fact, his xFIP last year (when his actual ERA was 4.65)  was *lower* than it is this season; it was 4.12 in 2012.

His K/9 rate has tumbled this year to 6.43 from 8.82 a season ago. Hitters are making contact at a higher rate than in any season in his career. His velocity has fallen over last last few seasons as he gets older (he’s 28), but he’s not fooling anyone. When some of those fly balls go over the Camden Yard fences, the Orioles will realize they made a mistake in dealing for him.  He’s a free agent after this season, so unless he improves overnight, he won’t help the O’s reach the postseason more than Jason Hammel, the man he’ll replace in Baltimore’s rotation.

Watch lefties in particular eat him up. Avoid adding him to your Fantasy roster. I think he’s too risky even as a streaming option.

Jose Iglesias  .330/1 HR/27 RBI/3 SBs.  The 23-year-old defensive phenom has been hitting over his head. The Tigers acquired him as an insurance policy should Jhonny Peralta receive his much-assumed suspension in the Biogenesis case, but also because Peralta is a free agent after this season, and Iglesias will be under contract until 2018.

Iglesias almost refuses to walk (4.7 percent BB%), but his 12.8 percent strikeout percentage is very good. He owns very little power so Tiger fans should not even expect another HR.

His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is a ridiculously high .376.  That is almost guaranteed to plunge (along with his lofty average) the rest of the season.  He is an extreme ground ball hitter, which is better when you don’t own any power (55.9 percent GB/25.7 percent FB).

His average thus far is the only thing making him Fantasy relevant; and without a starting slot (yet), he has virtually no value in Detroit.

Avisail Garcia: .241/2 HRs/12 RBI in 88 ABs This 22-year-old is a very good prospect; so much so that you wonder why Detroit let him go to essentially land Iglesias.  He is very strong and athletic, but could use some more plate discipline.  He owns good speed and has swiped 57 bases in his three minor league seasons.

Throughout his minor league career, he has walked about 4 percent of the time and struck out in the 20 to 25 percent range.  In his brief major league experience he owns a ground ball rate of 63 percent, which is not what you want to see in a hitter with power. He’s figuring out major league pitching with a 14.1 percent Swinging Strike percentage (average is closer to 10 percent). But few rookies make an immediate impact.

The White Sox get a good defender with a decent arm in the outfield. He should call the South Side of Chicago home for several years. He may be the best prospect dealt this week.

Brayan Villareal:  3-5/2.63 ERA/1.21 WHIP in 2012.  Villareal comes from the Detroit bullpen, which means he’s a high strikeout/high walk pitcher.  His 2012 numbers above (he’s pitched only 4 innings this season) masked a BB/9 ratio of 4.61 (it was almost 7 per nine in the minor leagues this season).

He is a very hard thrower, averaging 95 to 97 mph. He did limit batters to a .193 average last season and he has the ability to fool hitters, but if they lay off he’ll probably walk them.

Don’t expect much from Villareal in the Red Sox bullpen, but he could have a brilliant streak in there somewhere. But don’t expect any save opportunities in Boston’s crowded pen.

Alberto Callaspo .252/5 HRs/32 RBI   Callaspo is one of those players who drives me insane in Fantasy baseball.  He’s good for 10 HRs a year, which is marginally okay for a second baseman, but not for a third baseman where he also plays. He’s hit .300 before, and owns a career .273 mark.

Callaspo is very much a Moneyball player and we know that’s what the A’s like. His career walk rate of 8.6 percent is better than his strikeout percentage of 8.4 percent.  He puts the ball on the ground more than he hits a fly ball and he generally has good at bats.

For the rest of this season, he’s due for a higher average but he won’t see nearly his 10 HR average, especially in Oakland. He hasn’t stolen a base this year (and has averaged fewer than 4 per season).  He’s a non-factor in most Fantasy leagues, but in an AL-only league he might contribute a near .300 average the rest of the way, but that’s luck dependent.

Grant Green. Green is a nice little prospect for the Angels to score in the Callaspo deal. He’s found a position at second base in the As system and his smooth hitting stroke and decent power will play very well there.

He owns 11 HRs and 66 RBI in 87 games with a .325 AVG at Triple-A this year;  He went for 15/73/.296 in 2012.

He is almost 26 years old, but if he can develop a bit more power, he’ll be an outright steal for the 30-year-old Callaspo.


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