Everybody Loves Rays: Chris Archer

7984498029_6774549abb_b== Was he the “SP” of the Supposed Ill-Fated Deal? ==

Apparently there was a widely rumored near-deal between the Mariners and Rays in January, and it eventually fell apart due to the post-season diagnosis of Ray starter Jeremy Hellickson with elbow issues that required surgery.

This Rays blogger has a whole post about it, and Thirteen (aka Logan) has a comment at SeattleSportsInsider.com.

The upshot was that supposedly an “SP” (starting pitcher) would go back to Seattle and the deal was “not 1-for-1″ (meaning Nick Franklin-plus, apparently), and that the long-time M’s blogger Jeff Sullivan  viewed the “SP” as “not good enough.”

Now, without going into too much “inside baseball” (ha!), it seems possible from both sides that Chris Archer was the one: in that the Rays’ blogger thought Archer would require more than just Franklin, and that Jeff Sullivan might well have thought he was not good enough a return.


OK, let’s just look at his spreadsheet, then.  And since he was a rookie, we’ll look at both his minor-league and MLB results.

Here’s the minor league data, which misses his first two (age-17 and age-18) seasons, since we don’t have full batting-against data prior to 2008:

Year Age Lvl HR% BB% XBH + BB% ISO K% PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Age Arc Goal < 1% Goal < 6% Goal < 14% Goal < .100 Goal > 20% Strong prospect > 100
2008 19 “0” 1.54% 16.12% 20.73% 0.100 20.35% 50 101 51
2009 20 “0” 0.00% 14.25% 17.71% 0.044 25.70% 89 126 115
2010 21 “-1″ 1.02% 11.02% 15.76% 0.081 25.25% 103 118 120
2011 22 “-1″ 1.65% 12.89% 19.49% 0.125 19.49% 65 93 58
2012 23 “0” 1.38% 11.49% 17.15% 0.104 26.80% 100 113 113
2013 24 “+1″ 2.68% 10.27% 16.96% 0.136 23.21% 90 98 87

And here’s his MLB chart:

BF HR%+ BB%+ K%+ XBH%+ PSA+ Conv+ Comp
2012 23 122 98 62 144 142 128 141 168
2013 24 525 81 106 94 109 114 109 123

It may take awhile to digest, but something very strange went on there.

Archer had a huge problem with walks in the minors.  Huge.  And, while sometimes he dominated hitters, there were also plenty of times he got hit hard.

Then, suddenly, in 2013 he dove well below league average in walk rate (from 5.0 BB/9 to 2.7 BB/9), and also was relatively hard to hit.

He ended up third in the Rookie of the Year balloting.  And why not?  Those were good numbers.

But was it “real”?  Can a guy with “command/control” issues his whole career suddenly not only be “cured” but actually go the other way and have command as a strength?

And here’s two reasons I’m skeptical:

  • He pitched in the majors in 2012, and pitched quite well, but didn’t get the “magical” drop in BB-rate.
  • He pitched in AAA the first part of 2013, and, again, no magical drop in walks.

In other words, my sense is that Archer is over-valued right now because I don’t think his BB-rate will stay as low as it was in 2013.  But, he is still an impressive young pitcher, and probably is somewhat comparable (in terms of actual value) to a RH James Paxton, a guy with great ability, some bumps in the road, and a taste of MLB success.

In that regard, Franklin alone is probably a fair trade, but Franklin-plus would bother me.

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One thought on “Everybody Loves Rays: Chris Archer

  1. It could be that Archer and Paxton both suffer from the same, Working on specific things in the minors (plant foot) so not concentrating on walk rate / Minor league umps don’t call the curve for strikes / The best competition sharpens the focus / Minor leaguers swing less… phenomenon. It is just a gut feeling, but it seems like there is always a subset of pitchers who do this. Too many walks in the minors and then they get to the majors and either they just start getting that low curve called for a strike or major leaguers can actually make contact with it so they get more easy grounders instead of swings and misses or no swings, or they just learn how to be that 10% finer with control. Guys like Kershaw and Price are examples of this…

    Anyways, I am on record saying I don’t trade Franklin at all unless in some sort of mega deal for a bonafide RH Bat (Stanton, Double E, etc). So I don’t trade him for Archer either, but I still really like Archer as a trade target…

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