Sell High: SP Chris Young

I’ve received a couple of emails recently regarding Chris Young of the San Diego Padres, so I decided to write about him here in case anyone else was curious what to do with him.

Before the 2006 season, Chris Young was traded from the Texas Rangers to the San Diego Padres.  Shifting from the American League to the National League and from a Home Run haven like the Ballpark in Arlington to the spacious Petco Park, many speculated that Chris Young would have a fine 2006 season.  It seemed that way.  His ERA finished at 3.46, his WHIP at 1.13, and his K rate increased to 8.23 in the new league.  He was now considered a Top 20 Starting Pitcher by many fantasy players.  If you look deeper into the numbers though, you will see that Young got quite lucky in 2006, something I wasn’t willing to bank on for this year.  I wrote about him as a player to avoid in the preseason.  Now, nearly two months into the 2007 season, he’s back up to his old tricks.  To start, we’ll look at his line:

7.95 K/9
3.75 BB/9
2.12 K/BB
26.2% GB rate

This line looks decent up until we see the outrageously low Ground ball rate.  With a Ground ball rate that low, we’d expect Young to be giving up lots of HRs due to the high number of Fly balls he is giving up.  This, however, is not the case.  Young is boasting a 2.70 ERA, courtesy of his 0.45 HR/9 rate.  That’s lower than what we’d expect from a guy like Brandon Webb.  In the coming months, this number is sure to shoot upwards, well above 1.00, and probably over 1.50.  Consequently, his ERA will increase as well.

Another thing we should notice is his .275 BABIP.  While not terribly low, it is roughly .025 below typical league average and should increase a little bit, meaning more hits and a higher WHIP.  His Walk rate should improve at least a little bit, but even if it improves to last year’s level, his K/BB will still be under 2.50.  His Strikeout rate might also improve see an improvement, but even if his K/9 rises to 8.50 and his BB/9 falls to 3.25, his K/BB would still be just 2.62.  That kind of rate just isn’t high enough to make up for his abysmal Ground ball rate.

Sell high on Chris Young while you can.  Some guys I’d probably try for include Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, Jeremy Bonderman, and Dan Haren.  I would also trade him straight-up for A.J. Burnett, Kelvim Escobar, Jamie Shields, Oliver Perez, Scott Kazmir, C.C. Sabathia, and Josh Beckett, and you might be able to pick up something extra if you traded for one of those guys, depending upon how savvy your trade partner is.

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