So we made it. While this season was only 60 games, the “sprint” has felt more like a marathon. For those of you who have read all of my articles this season, I truly thank you. This has been an extremely fun piece to write every week, and I hope you all have found these are informative as I have. I am extremely excited about the future of RotoFanatic and we have a ton of amazing things planned for this offseason and 2021. However, there is still one more week of fantasy baseball. For those of you who are still competing for a championship, congrats, and good luck. For those of you who unfortunately were not as successful, it is time to start looking ahead to 2021. One player who will certainly have a ton of offseason buzz is the subject of today’s final GPS Location Report, Dustin May.
If you have never been lucky enough to watch a Dustin May start, go and seek out videos of the young Dodger righty. He has become a fan favorite due to his insane fastball movement. May has the third-highest horizontal movement on his sinker according to Baseball Savant. This movement has led to some incredible Twitter clips and has made Manny Machado look silly on a number of different occasions. However, despite this incredible movement, May ranks 12th worst in all of baseball in K/9 among pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched. Despite these struggles, May has posted an ERA of 2.68 despite a FIP that is in the high fours. StuffERA however seems May as more of a 3.75-4 ERA type of pitcher. However, underlying his solid numbers within the model is a big concern for his fantasy value.
Outside of extreme cases, it is extremely difficult to become an elite fantasy pitcher without posting large K-numbers. As I stated above, May has not had the Ks. There have been a number of different explanations tossed around with regards to his fastball, despite being so aesthetically pleasing, does not get swings and misses. What I propose though is actually a pretty simple concept. May just does not throw to valuable locations.
The chart above shows May’s location on fastballs. As you can see, he throws his fastballs down in the zone exclusively. No matter the count, the lanky right hander fills the bottom of the zone with fastballs. As you can see from the whiff charts, fastballs do not tend to get swings and misses low in the zone. Among all pitchers who have thrown at least 500 fastballs in 2020, May’s expected whiff rate on those pitches ranks 6th lowest. This on its own is not a major issue, pitchers behind him on this list include Zach Davies and Corbin Burnes. However, over 75% of all pitches thrown by May are fastballs (sinker/cutter/four-seam). For comparison, Davies is a little over 50% and Burnes is in the middle around 65%. This has led to a ton of issues for May in terms of getting enough whiffs to post high K numbers. Among pitchers with at least 800 pitches thrown, May has the 2nd lowest expected whiff rate on all pitch types. This type of profile can be successful if the stuff is elite, but so far hitters to not seem to be interacting with the pitches like they are elite. May’s actual and expected whiff rates are fairly in line. Burnes by comparison has the 14th lowest expected whiff rate, but the third-highest whiff influence. This means that despite his relatively poor location, the stuff is so good that hitters are still swinging through it. Despite the “look” of the pitch, May is the embodiment of the idea that horizontal movement does not matter as much as vertical movement for fastballs. This is a concept I’ll dive into some more this offseason.
So what exactly does this mean for May? Mainly, I think it means that expectations need to be lessened for May. Unless he changes his pitch mix, the shape of his fastball, or his location I just do not see him making the jump to fantasy elite. While the Dodgers are one of the smartest organizations in all of baseball, the fact that this change has not occurred for May yet makes me skeptical it will ever happen. If I own him in Dynasty, his value will likely never be higher so I would start by shopping him around. For anyone looking ahead to 2021 drafts, I already anticipate that May’s price will be higher than I am willing to pay. In order to absorb the K hit you will need to go very pitching heavy early or you will need to take chances on flawed pitchers late. While a jump is entirely possible, I would rather be a year late on May than take a chance he makes a major change to his identity as a pitcher.
Once again thank you, everyone, for reading and hopefully, soon we will have a leaderboard and some other cool tools all set up so that you can dive into all of the numbers that I cite in this article every week.
|Min 800 Pitches|