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Player Profile #43: Jose Fernandez | SP | MIA

Jose Fernandez is great. You can read about his greatness here, here, here, and here. Here’s a compilation of his 2013 highlights.

Fernandez is great. I agree with it.

But Fernandez isn’t “2013” great. Sorry, but no pitcher maintains a 2.19 ERA out of the rotation. You knew that already? OK, then let’s remember that Fernandez’s FIP last year was 2.73, and when you correct for a 7.1% HR/FB rate, his xFIP was 3.08. That assumes a league average park and Marlins Parks is well below league average in terms of HR allowed, so a 7.8% HR/FB rate should be substituted. If we used 7.8% instead of the slightly higher league average rate (10.5%), we’re looking at a 2.80 ERA. Now we’re getting somewhere.

Interestingly, despite being so pitcher-friendly when it comes to HR, Marlins Park is ever-so-slightly batter friendly in terms of runs scored, finishing as the 11th-most generous run-scoring environment at 3% better than the league average. Also interestingly, Fernandez had a 1.19 ERA at home last year (3.50 on the road).

Adding approximately 30 more innings to his workload and adjusting his home/road splits for what we should reasonably expect in Year 2, I peg Fernandez’s ERA in the 2.80-3.10 range. You’ll notice our projection below is at the higher end of that range. Honestly, I have a hard time projecting any pitcher for an ERA better than 2.80, and Miami’s infield defense figures to be below average, so I’ll push his ERA up to the conservative end of the spectrum. Could he make me look foolish with another great season? Absolutely. Would I be surprised by it? Not at all.

At A Glance

  • Strengths: L, K, ERA, WHIP, K/9
  • Neutral: IP, W, BB/9
  • Weaknesses: None

Players With Similar Fantasy Value

2014 Fantasy Baseball Projection

2014 Projection: 195 IP, 13 W, 0 SV, 214 K, 3.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

Overall Rank: 43 | SP Rank: 9

I doubt anyone would take him over [Hernandez or Price], but the excitement of owning someone like Fernandez can make us do crazy things.

Fernandez is as great as any other SP in baseball, but he’s not going to exceed 200 IP and he’s not going to win many games. Those are blemishes on his 2014 fantasy scorecard.

But in the 195-200 IP that Fernandez does pitch, wow, they’re going to be good. We didn’t put his ERA at the sub-3.00 level, but that’s only because of his youth and questions about his teammates. If you want to put Fernandez at 2.80, be my guest. It doesn’t really affect his ranking and it shouldn’t affect his draft stock in the slightest. In the end, 20-30 points in ERA is moot and Fernandez is still elite on a per-IP basis.

In our early mock draft, Fernandez went 55th overall. We ranked him 43rd in our countdown and he fell to 51st in our Draft Guide, but a pick anywhere in the 50s is great value for Fernandez. It should be mentioned that SP value changes by the league, usually just because different league with different managers place different degrees of emphasis on SP, so I can advocate taking Fernandez anywhere in the 40-60 range as long as he doesn’t go before Felix Hernandez or David Price. I doubt anyone would take him over those two, but the excitement of owning someone like Fernandez can make us do crazy things.

In quality starts leagues, Fernandez takes a nice leap up a la Chris Sale and joins Madison Bumgarner as a borderline top 5 SP, but his IP limit still holds him back. In truth, as much as I’d like to own Fernandez, give me a 220 IP ace every single time. My prime SP1 target in all leagues is Price.

2015 & Beyond

What more can we say here? Fernandez is a must-target in any keeper league, but don’t get ahead of yourself and pay top dollar. I’ll still take Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, and maybe even Hernandez and Price over Fernandez. I don’t want to be negative and say Fernandez can’t be better than Hernandez and Price, but how much higher is his ceiling than theirs? Hernandez and Price still have many years of dominance ahead, so take their 220+ IP to the bank.

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