Sitting dead red (pardon the pun), and you can’t hit Hunter Greene. Allow me to demonstrate:
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 17, 2022
That’s just silly. Tell the hitter the ball is going to be right down the pipe, and it’s a JCVD to the windpipe. His fastball velocity averaged 99 MPH. To be a fly on the wall of the hospital room where Babe Ruth laid for the last time when a time traveler walked in to tell him, “A pitcher will one day average 99 MPH,” and then Babe closed his eyes for the last time, not wanting any part of that. Slightly off topic for a brief moment: It’s why it’s so funny when people try to compare different eras in baseball. Can you imagine Babe Ruth facing a 99-MPH hurler every time out? Putting aside his offseason regiment was chugging sodas with Fatty Arbuckle. 99 miles per hour on average?! That was best in the majors for a starter with at least 120 innings and the top ten are all guys you want: Strider, Sandy, Gerrit, Shohei, Castillo, Cease, McClanahanananananananan, Burnes, and Woodruff, in that order, with Woodruff at 96.2 MPH on average. Only two guys above 98 MPH are Spencer Strider and Hunter Greene. Velocity isn’t everything, naturally. Or unnaturally if you’re one of these guys’ shoulders. Nathan Eovaldi and his hot butter MPH and biscuit of garbage ERA are more the exception than the rule. The top 30 for fastball velocity are roughly 95% fantastic with the occasional Mitch Keller. So, what can we expect from Hunter Greene for 2023 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Psyche! Before we get into the Hunter Greene sleeper post, just wanted to announce that I’ve begun to roll out my 2023 fantasy baseball rankings on our Patreon. Lucky you (if you pay the $10/month). Also, Rudy’s begun to roll out his 2023 fantasy baseball projections. It’s version 1.0 and there’s usually about 4500 versions but just wanted to let you know. Anyway II, the Hunter Greene sleeper:
It’s really about the slider. Yes, I spent the first ‘graph telling you how hard Hunter Greene threw his fastball to goose ya up a little. His slider is the bye-bye pitch. He throws it from 87-90 MPH (minVel 80.9 MPH, maxVel 93.4 MPH), and the batting average against was .170. It brutalizes lefties too, especially impressive coming from a righty. The slider produced a 38% Whiff% and .261 wOBA. His batting average against lefties with all pitches was .205. That sounded great to me for a righty, so I searched for all starters vs. lefties, and it’s all aces again who have a .205 BAA vs. lefties or better. Wonder if that changes with the shift ending. Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Reds’ manager Dumb Bell is told that the shift ended, and Dumb says, “What shift?” The defensive alignment thing, Skip, you don’t have to worry about it. “Defense? Are we getting Eugenio back so I can put him back at shortstop?” Forget it, Skip.
The other thing that might worry people about Hunter Greene is his command. Last year, he had a 3.4 BB/9. With his 11.8 K/9, that will still play, but I’m here to tell you his command can and will get better. He was regularly a low-3 BB/9 guy in the minors, and even last year in the majors his walk rate went from 4 BB/9 in the 1st half to 2 in the 2nd half. Granted, it was 90 1/3 IP vs. 35 1/3 IP, but still that’s a huge improvement. Maybe Greene realized what we saw in that opening clip. He can throw bee-bees by hitters so why throw any BBs. I imagine a young pitcher is worried early on, or just nervous, but then they realize they can strike out major league hitters, so why play games with trying to dot corners? In the 1st half, he had five games where he threw 4 or more walks. He had zero such games in the 2nd half. Just bear down and ruffle some feathers, to mix animal metaphors. Even his strikeout rate went up in the 2nd half when I think he realized his stuff is so good he doesn’t need to widdle-waddle, he can just wowie-wee-wow with his K/9 going up to 13 in the 2nd half. Honestly, I don’t want to get too Horny on Main, but if Hunter Greene isn’t walking people, he might be a top ten starter this year.
Hunter Greene’s other bugaboo was his propensity to allow a home run or three. Not to whisper in your ear and get you too crazy, but guess what else he fixed in the 2nd half? He allowed 23 homers in the 1st half. Woof, I hear that. Guess how many he gave up in the 2nd half. C’mon, you know it’s a smaller number. Guess a number lower than 23. Wrong! He gave up one homer in the 2nd half. One home run in the entire 2nd half! I just kissed his player page. Okay, I think I’ve made a convincing enough case here why Hunter Greene is a 2023 fantasy baseball sleeper. For 2023, I’ll give Hunter Greene projections 10-7/3.72/1.16/209 in 164 IP with a chance for much more.