Number one reason why I think you can punt top starters is there’s just so many starters you can draft later. Exhibit A: All these fantasy baseball sleepers. Subsection A in Exhibit A, or AA, as my uncle calls it, is Joe Ryan. Last year, Ryan went 13-8/3.55/1.10/151 in 147 IP. He’s being drafted around 147th overall. If you were to draft five Joe Ryans, a hand of Ryans, as they say in Moroccan markets, you’d have One Full Joe. One Full Joe is all you need to win your fantasy league. A hand of Ryans or One Full Joe gets you in the top three for ERA, Wins, WHIP and Ks. You need a few decent relievers — let’s call them a Sprinkling of Holmes. A Sprinkling of Holmes plus a hand of Ryans or a One Full Joe, and you have all the pitching you need. See, if your hand of Ryans were to fall a little, then you could grab onto an invisible strand of Holmes, and have a Sheer-Lock Holmes. Woof, you walked right into that nonsense. No, seriously, all you need to win your fantasy league is pitchers who do as well as the 30th best starter, give or take. Not saying they have to do better than their ranking, but, let’s be honest, I’m writing them up because I expect them to do better. Think about this with, I don’t know, outfielders. If you get a hand of Castellanosses, would you do top three in your league in hitting? I grabbed Castellanos, because he’s currently going about a dozen spots before Ryan. Or, what if you had a hand of Blackmen — uh, multiple Blackmons? He was ranked 39th overall last year for outfielders on the Player Rater, and Ryan was 39th for starters last year. You might be saying, “Sure, but you need the Sprinkling of Holmes, so not the same as only a hand of Blackmons.” Fine, fill the rest of your hitting with great hitters off waivers, which is what Holmes was last year, a waiver wire pick. You really think your hitting will be good enough with a hand of Blackmons and top waiver pickups at all other hitting spots? No, of course not. Pitching is just easier to figure out later. So, it would be nice to have a Sandy Alcantara, but you really only need him if your hand of Ryans turns into a hand of Berrios. A hand of Ryans is all you need. You can’t say that about any other position. So, what can we expect from Joe Ryan for 2023 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Psyche! Before we get into the Joe Ryan sleeper post, Rudy’s got his 2023 fantasy baseball subscriptions up, and get an ad-free to get these ads the heck out of here. On Monday, my rankings start, if you want all of them now, that’s at the Patreon. Anyway II, the Joe Ryan sleeper:
Joe Ryan has a 92 MPH fastball. *yawns* Someone hit the snooze button. I’m going back to sleep. I’m announcing this to you because when I’m going to sleep I get very histrionic. What did you just say? He had a .174 batting average against?! *falls out of bed* What?! I need to look up how good that fastball is vs. everyone else in the league, one second. He’s third?! Behind only Justin Verlander and Aaron Nola?! What on earth?! Wait a minute, the fourth best fastball in the league is Nestor Cortes? He doesn’t throw very fast, either. Hold up, are we to believe a guy can be great without a lot of velocity? My goodness, I’m seeing colors I’ve never seen before. What is that, a green-ish purple? It’s beautiful!
So, of course, velocity can be important, but it’s not everything. You know what’s more important than velocity? I just named four top fastballs, any guesses what they have in common? They all play baseball? Yes, that’s right, but I was looking for ‘They all have upper echelon command.’ If you can pinpoint a ball on the outer edge of the plate, then it doesn’t really matter if it’s going 98 MPH or 91 MPH. If you can command your pitches and throw fast? Then, you’re likely being drafted in the top five overall. Though, Joe Ryan’s fastball jumps at hitters like it’s going faster with a high ride.
Joe Ryan’s secondaries are, uh, secondary and why I always say, “A two-pitch pitcher isn’t bad if one of the pitches is getting a .174 batting average against.” Okay, I don’t always say that, and not with .174, but you get the drift. Joe Ryan throws his fastball 60.1% of the time and only throws his slider 20.7%, his change 12.1% and his curve 7.1%. If Joe Ryan repeats last year, he’s well worth the draft pick, but as said previously, we’re here because we think he can be better. The slider is where the untapped potential lies. Double slider is better than a double rainbow. Double Slider? Call Joe Ryan the Burger King:
Joe Ryan, Filthy Sliders, ?
7th and 8th Ks pic.twitter.com/6e21dOqehD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 27, 2022
Last year, Joe Ryan’s slider produced .245 BAA, and a ton of homers allowed (8 in only 20.7% of his pitches vs. 9 off fastball in 60.1%). That alone feels very unlucky. If Joe Ryan just slices the homers allowed on his slider — stop hanging ’em, Joe! — we could see a nice step forward. That’s just one small possibility. If Joe Ryan’s slider takes a step forward on just staying down in the zone (his fly ball rate on the sliders was 45% and that’s high for him), then that’s another path forward for an improvement. If Joe Ryan just stops throwing his slider in the zone as much, that could be an improvement. I’ll explain. See those sliders in the video above? They’re outside the zone. He actually threw his slider in the zone 46.3%, and I think if he does that less, he’ll see better results. The fastball is in the zone; the slider doesn’t need to be as much. For unstints, his slider was only in the zone 42.4% of the time in 2021, and his slider BAA was .200, down .045. If I can come to this conclusion while drinking boba in my track pants, Twins’ coaches can figure this out for him. I have faith. Well, I need someone to hold me but I’ll wait for somethin’ more. Gotta have faith faith faith. That slider improves just a hair and his fastball stays as good, and Joe Ryan’s gonna be a sub-3 ERA pitcher. For 2022, I’ll give Joe Ryan projections of 14-7/3.21/1.07/181 in 177 IP with a chance for much more, especially on ratios.