It's the fantasy baseball draft season. To us baseball nerds, few things are more exciting than arguing about player rankings. Today, we'll discuss and compare Carlos Martinez's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 73 overall by Harris Yudin, and No. 105 by Nick Mariano.
Throughout this series, we'll be using our February Staff Rankings to debate where to draft certain players. In cases where our writers had discrepancies, we've asked them to explain their rankings. These debates will provide us with some well-rounded analysis, and help identify undervalued/overvalued draft picks.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Carlos Martinez
Harris Yudin's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 73
Martinez sits eighth in all of baseball over the last two years (min. 350 IP) in ERA with a 3.02 mark. He is one of just five pitchers — Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta are the others — to post an ERA of 3.10 or lower in each of 2015 and ’16. While 3.10 is a relatively arbitrary number, it does equate to roughly 15 pitchers per year— in other words, SP1-caliber players.
Even with a slight regression in the strikeout department last year, his 21.5% K rate was still clearly above average. For the most part, his batted ball splits remained the same from 2015 (his hard hit percentage ticked up despite a drop in line drive percentage), and his batting average against fell to .232. Martinez’ fastball ranked seventh in MLB with 19.5 runs above average, his slider 24th with 6.2. Only Scherzer and Justin Verlander had more success with that combination.
You have Martinez ranked 34 spots below Masahiro Tanaka, who, over the last two seasons, has a lower strikeout rate, a lower strand rate, a greater fly ball tendency, a higher HR/FB ratio and a higher hard hit percentage.
It’s not that Martinez belongs anywhere near the top tier, but he has developed into a reliable fantasy starter worthy of a draft selection in the sixth or seventh round. A 25-year-old with a strong arsenal of pitches, two great seasons under his belt and a winning team around him is certainly a guy I’m willing to trust as an SP2.
Nick Mariano's Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 105
I think Carlos Martinez is a very good real-life pitcher. I just think his fantasy value is standing on some shaky ground. His 30-16 record over the last two seasons can’t be ignored, as St. Louis wins games and CarMart puts them in a good position to do so. He had a 3.01 ERA in 2015 and a 3.04 mark in ’16 while lowering his WHIP from 1.29 to 1.22. So, what’s not to like?
Martinez has been refining his command, which has resulted in a lower BABIP each season, but it’s taking away from the strikeout potential that made him special. His promising 24.4% K-rate dropped to 21.5% last season, as his swinging-strike rate dropped below 10% to 9.4%. I accept that Martinez’s respective offerings allow him to outperform his metrics a bit, and even leave room for a rebound with Ks, and that’s why I have him around my 100th slot. He still walks too many for my taste without elite strikeout stuff. No. 73 is a simply a bridge too far for me. Harris is actually closest to Martinez’s NFBC ADP of 69.83, for the record. Actually, he's about 30 slots higher than me (and a few others) on many pitchers like Danny Duffy, Danny Salazar and Rick Porcello. I'll remember this on draft day!
Anyway, about those metrics. While his ERA stayed close to an even 3.00, his fielding-independent metrics do not support the consistency. While part of that is due to relying more on balls in play and strong movement, it’s still troubling as his 3.97 SIERA—which incorporates the kind of contact a pitcher allows as well as being a park-adjusted metric—is Martinez’s worst mark (3.61 FIP, 3.81 xFIP). His SIERA was 3.44 in 2015, so that figure jumping over half of a run raises some red flags.
Until Martinez either gets that BB/9 rate below three or proves capable of sustaining a BABIP below .300, I’m just not going to be the one to buy in. I respect those who do, but it won't be me.