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It is Feb. 11th and we are all in midst of planning our upcoming baseball drafts. Naturally, that means one of the most popular questions being asked is “who are the top sleepers to target?” Of course, if we actually knew who the top sleepers were, then those players wouldn’t actually be sleepers.

Thus, the goal is to identify players with late ADP’s who have a chance at breaking out based on certain indicators, but by no means are a given to light up your fantasy box score. This particular article will focus on Jerad Eickhoff of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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A Deeper Dive - Jerad Eickhoff

With a current ADP of 212, Eickhoff is being drafted in the middle of the 17th round in 12-team leagues. Given his second half of 2016, Eickhoff has a decent chance to return draft value much higher than that. While Eickhoff finished 2016 with a 3.65 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 3.98 K/BB over a career-high 197.1 innings, a deeper look shows some good things.

Over the first half, Eickhoff pitched to a 3.80 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 3.24 K/BB. Decent numbers for sure, but nothing eye-popping. Over the second half of 2016, though, he put up a 3.80 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and an insanely good 5.62 K/BB.

Clearly, Eickhoff saw massive shifts in his WHIP and K/BB. While his strikeouts didn’t change much (in fact, his K/9 shrunk from 7.76 to 7.44), he seemed to have a much better grip on his pitches as his walk rate fell from 6.3% to 3.7%. What led to such a change? While impossible to say, Eickhoff’s pitch selection over the second half may have had something to do with it. He became much more balanced with his repertoire as the season went along, as evidenced by the following usage:

First half: 31.29%
Second half: 29.38 %

First half: 22.61%
Second half: 20.72%

First half: 6.11%
Second half: 2.28%

First half: 16.07%
Second half: 20.09%

First half: 23.71%
Second half: 27.51%

As you can see, there were some slight differences among his pitch selection that may account for his better control. He threw his fourseam, sinker, and changeup slightly less, and his slider and curveball a bit more (with the curveball being much more significant given how much he threw it).



While it’s impossible to say if Eickhoff will approach 2017 with the balanced approach we saw in the second half of 2016, a full season’s worth of a 5.13 K/BB would put him in elite territory - it would have ranked fourth overall last season among qualified pitchers behind Rick Porcello, Josh Tomlin, and Chris Sale and just ahead of Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard, and Madison Bumgarner (Eickhoff actually did rank fourth overall for the second half).

Entering his age-26 season, Eickhoff should continue to improve upon his control, which in turn will help out the rest of his statistics as well. His 212 ADP may be a steal, so be on the lookout.

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