It would be irresponsible of me to tell you to draft a player just because he happens to be a phenomenal human being. That being said, sometimes I’m such a fan of a guy that I spend a little extra time poring over his stats, hoping to find a reason to draft him.
One such player is Chris Archer.
Last year, Chris Archer went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 129 innings pitched, good enough for a third-place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting. He also had an average fastball velocity of 95 mph, the highest in the American League.
A lot of detractors are calling for regression this year, pointing at his crazy low .253 BABIP and overly high 78.8% left-on-base percentage. I can’t argue with those numbers, but there are several factors that could easily offset that regression.
He improved in the second half of the season, increasing his K/9 to 7.13 and dropping his BB/9 to just under 2. Combine those numbers with his above-average groundball rate and Tampa’s historically tight defense (lowest pitching staff BABIP over the last three years), and you have yourself a recipe for success.
Archer humiliates righties to the tune of a .171/.230/.219 slash line. He turns right handed batters into Cole Hamels at the dish. That being said, Archer needs to improve his changeup in order to have success against lefties. He usually only throws his changeup early in counts, relying on his slider as an out pitch. He has been working on the change this spring and is already showing good results.
Now here’s personal favorite tidbit. Stats courtesy of Fangraphs.com:
A clutch pitcher—and those stats look pretty clutch to me— is going to have a high LOB% and a low BABIP. As extreme as 2013’s numbers? Most likely not. But if Archer were to perform like his second half and show some continued improvement against righties I could easily see a 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 150 K in 180 IP. And there’s still upside beyond that. Not bad for the 73rd starting pitcher off the board.