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Red Sox SP Rick Porcello: Fantasy Stud or Dud?

Senior Fantasy Baseball Expert Adam Ronis examines 2016 American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello's value as we approach Opening Day!

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Recency bias occurs often in Fantasy Baseball. People look at a player’s stats from last season, especially if they were good, and view that player optimistically despite poor performances in past seasons.

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Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young award last season and while he's not going as a top-15 starting pitcher, he is being drafted in many leagues among the top 25 starters. Some owners will be in a draft, see Porcello at the top of the queue, see the 22 wins and 3.15 ERA and feel like they have to take him. There are always a few players in a draft that you wonder why they are still on the board. However, Porcello is going to be overvalued and shouldn't be drafted as a top-30 starting pitcher.

Porcello had a career season with the Red Sox last season, going 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 223 innings. He had a 7.63 K/9, 1.29 BB/9 and an 8.2 percent swinging strike rate.

We all know the wins are a product of offensive run support and a bullpen holding the lead. The Red Sox are a good team and Porcello should be in a position to win games, but there could be a big dip in wins.

Porcello had a 3.43 ERA with the Tigers in 2014 and a 4.92 in 2015 in his first season as a member of the Red Sox. What changed for Porcello in 2016? Did he do something different or did he get fortunate?

Porcello is not going to get a lot of strikeouts. He has pitched 200 innings twice in his career and he will need to pile up the innings to be an asset in strikeouts. In 172 innings in 2015, he struck out 149. Last season, he had 189 strikeouts but it took 223 innings. Porcello has always limited the walks and he took it up another notch last season with a 3.6 percent walk rate.

Porcello used to routinely induce ground balls at more than a 50 percent rate. That's not the case anymore. He had a 43.1 percent ground ball rate last season, which was the worst of his career. He allowed fly balls at a rate of 38 percent, the highest of his career. Porcello had a .269 BABIP, which is below his career mark of .307.

Porcello throws four pitches and he didn't change his pitch usage last season. He is only 28 years old, but came up to the majors as a youngster in 2009 with the Tigers. Porcello relies on pinpoint control, good defense behind him and run support. If one of those things swings the other way drastically, Porcello will see a big change in his numbers.

Porcello is a solid pitcher but everything broke right for him in a career year in 2016. He's more of a SP3 and preferably a SP4 in a typical 12-team Fantasy Baseball league. Someone in every league will pay a higher price. Don't be that guy.


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