We'll try to do this as objectively as possible, seeing as Dr. D is now as sympathetic toward Justin De Fratus as would be Oprah Winfrey to Rosa Parks.
Getcher Baseball Forecaster rat cheer. You can be downloading a .pdf while the book's in the mail, too.
- Whatever went right in 2014 went wrong in 2015. Wildly inconsistent month-to-month. (1)
- Righties 'lathered' him, though .410 BABIP played a role. (2)
- There were far fewer 1st-pitch strikes, swinging strikes (3), and runners stranded (4).
- All that in career-high IP.
- Even at his best, he's really just a guy. [Roto stats no temptation; pass.]
- SLASH: 7.5 strikeouts, 3.3 walks, average groundballs, 4.48 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, roto value .... -$4 :- )
(1) This is a Grand Theme for DiPoto, right? Actually two grand themes: one, the middle 80% of relievers are volatile, and two, Buy Low.
(2) Internal saber, done by ML analysts paid to do it, is trending toward the idea that BABIP is earned. You measure bases lost and bases gained; they measure velocity off the bat.
(3) SwStr% went from 13% two years ago to 11% last year. 11% is still Wade Davis and Mark Melancon, so huh.
(4) Just luck.
91-92 MPH fastball with a -10 MPH slider that he throws a lot (35%) and a -6 MPH changeup he throws 10% of the time. That's not a template. That's a Dharma Initiative can of vegetables with an all-white label that says GREEN BEANS in large black letters on the front. .... well, he pitches backwards, meaning offspeed first pitch, which he has in common with Nate Karns and Evan Scribner and, for all I know, Jerry DiPoto 1994. Certainly he has it in common with Japanese and Cuban pitchers.
Got bombed on all three pitches in 2015, boasting pitch values of -0.8, -1.0, and -1.1 respectively. He may have considered using his left hand at a few points. Tough to score a hoop when your son is longer than you, quicker than you, and stuffs all three of your moves with absolutely equal ease.
In this May outing, De Fratus whiffs the side on 10 pitches. So you can be sure it's an absolutely normal performance by his own standards.
- Pitch 1 - beautiful offspeed slider that starts in the zone and breaks off it (nicely "splitting" the knee level)
- Pitch 2 - exactly the same thing, but inside (very fun to watch, when the 10" break is 5" inside the zone and 5" outside it)
- Pitch 3 - 94 MPH up, but not up enough - Morse whuffs anyway
For a 10-pitch strikeout inning, that was some distinctly "MEH" stuff. However, on this vid you can get a sniff of wipeout arm action. If you riffle through other videos, you'll probably be left with the same impression that Dr. D gets: here is a generic RHP. He does better or worse depending on how razor-sharp his command is, whether his location is superior to (say) Yoervis Medina's.
If De Fratus could do that "4 inches in the zone, then 4 inches out of it" shtick all the time, then of course he'd be filthy rich (and probably able to Tweet his own thoughts as he saw fit). SSI is proceeding on the assumption that those two above pitches were just something that happened. Who knows; maybe DiPoto thinks that Stottlemyre can get him to doing it a lot.
But at least De Fratus wants to pitch ahead; his BB's were 2.1 two years ago, which is what DiPoto is trying to get back to. Like Zduriencik wanted high-90s velocity and high-break sliders off that, DiPoto seems to want low BB's and pitchability. Either GM will settle for generic relievers within that paradigm, it seems.
You can understand the logic here. It wouldn't be mine; to me De Fratus might not be worth the difference between $750k and the league minimum. But maybe DiPoto will be right; that's what makes a ball game. You, the thoughtful SSI denizen, get a bleacher seat and get to check out whether DiPoto can sift "dime-a-dozen" pitchers any better than Zduriencik could.