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 Danny Duffy's RotoBaller staff rankings. He was ranked No. 98 overall by Harris Yudin and No. 164 by Brad Johnson.
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.
Editor's note: Check out our previous debates on Albert Pujols, Jose Ramirez, Trea Turner, J.D Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Bryce Harper, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, Jonathan Villar, Kenta Maeda, Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco, Marcus Stroman, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo and Albert Pujols.
2017 Draft Rankings Debate: Danny Duffy
Harris Yudin's Rankings Analysis:
His Overall Ranking: 98
Duffy didn’t make his first start of the 2016 season until mid-May, but he certainly showed the ability to produce like an ace at times. His numbers as a starter were inflated by two horrific performances late in the season on the road against the Tigers and the Red Sox (six of his 26 HR allowed came in those two showings), but he also flashed dominance on multiple occasions— eight innings, one hit, one walk, no runs, 16 strikeouts against the Rays on Aug. 1; nine innings, seven hits, two walks, one run, six strikeouts against the Royals on Aug. 11.
Duffy recorded 9.42 K/9 on the year to go along with a 12.9 percent swinging strike rate (fifth-best among qualifiers), but 36.6 percent of contact made against him was considered to be hit hard. He yielded a concerning 13.8 percent HR/FB rate, but if he is able to keep the ball in the park more in 2017, Duffy should see his overall numbers continue to improve. His 4.48 K/BB ranked 10th, as did his 3.53 SIERA, and he managed to pick up 12 wins in 26 starts despite the 11th-fewest runs of support per nine innings (4.06).
Duffy’s stuff projects to be elite. His three best pitches — four-seam fastball, changeup, curveball — all increased in velocity last season, and each one finished among the top 20 in runs saved in its respective category. Yes, Duffy is a late bloomer, but he has the stuff to be a legitimate fantasy SP2 if he can limit the long ball.
Brad Johnson’s Rankings Analysis
His Overall Ranking: 164
This is another case where it looks like I don't like somebody even though I do. With Duffy, I think it's a matter of the hype getting just a little out of hand. A move to the bullpen last season resulted in an uptick in velocity. His command and whiff rates also took a firm stride forward. The gains held - briefly - upon return to the rotation. Eventually, his velocity declined back into the 93 mph range in September. With it, his outstanding results returned to merely solid.
The improvement in command is encouraging - a sign we can expect better than his career average rates. However, the warning signs are plain to see - Duffy may not have the durability to be a full season asset. At best, he should be viewed as a poor man's Carlos Carrasco (sans recent health scare). At worst, he'll regress back towards the ruinous performances he posted prior to the 2016 season.
Duffy is particularly good against left-handed hitters. He allowed nearly all of his home runs as a starter (1.45 HR/9), and nearly all of those were to right-handed batters. His success keeping the ball in the yard may determine whether he's a 3.00 or 4.00 ERA pitcher. Bear in mind, as a starter, Duffy allowed a 38.6 percent hard hit rate to go with fewer ground balls. As an example, hitters with comparable hard contact rates include Joey Votto, Kyle Seager and Daniel Murphy. The high home run rate wasn't fluky.