Marco Estrada: 2013 Pitching Sleeper

Mark Hirsch - Getty Images

The 2012 performance of Brewers starter Marco Estrada has placed his name on fantasy owner's radar for 2013 drafts.

Coming into the season, not many fantasy owners had heard of Marco Estrada. Heading into 2013 fantasy drafts, Estrada will be on many sleeper lists as someone who you can pick in the later rounds. Or not. Estrada started this career in the Nationals organization, but was claimed off waivers back in February 2010 by the Brewers. He has bounced between the bullpen and the starting rotation since joining the Brew Crew, and enjoyed a breakout in 2012.

Estrada made 29 appearances, 23 of which were starts, this season, going 5-7 with a 3.64 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 3.48 xFIP, 1.14 WHIP and an excellent 143-29 strikeout to walk ratio in 138.1 innings. Here are his 2012 stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Year Tm W L ERA G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 MIL 5 7 3.64 29 23 138.1 129 62 56 18 29 143 1.142 8.4 1.2 1.9 9.3 4.93
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2012.

Here are his 2012 stats as a starter and relieve, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR SB BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
as Starter 23 493 60 124 30 3 17 15 25 133 5.32 .252 .286 .428 .714 .309
as Reliever 6 30 2 5 0 0 1 0 4 10 2.50 .167 .265 .267 .531 .211
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2012.

HIs low win and innings totals will probably push him down some pitcher rankings in 2013, but we here at Fake Teams are here to tell you to focus on skills, and Estrada has some skills that should help him stay in the Brewers rotation in 2012.

Estrada is prone to the long ball, as he gave up 18 home runs in his 138.1 innings pitched this season, or just over a home run per nine innings. Not good, but some starters can get away with the long ball as long as they are of the solo variety. His 9.30 strikeout rate is the highest of his career, so one would be smart to question if the K rate is sustainable or not.

Estrada made 23 starts this season where he struck out 133 of the 493 batters he faced, or 27% of the batters he faced walked back to the dugout staring back at him. Ever notice how so many batters stare back at the pitcher as they are walking back to the dugout after whiffing? I guess they don't want to look at the fans booing him? Estrada also is stingy with the free pass as his 1.89 BB/9 indicates.

Among starters with 130 or more innings pitched, Estrada ranked 7th in strikeouts per nine, ranked 14th in walks per nine, and third in K/BB right behind Kris Medlen and Cliff Lee. Quite impressive company.

Want even more impressive? His 25.4% strikeout rate (K%) tied him with Clayton Kershaw, right behind Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish. What has made him so successful at striking out batters? Looking at his plate discipline stats over at FanGraphs, he throws first pitch strikes at a 61.7% rate, and induces swinging strikes in 10.2% of his pitches thrown.

What can owners expect from him in 2013? He will be a late round pick in mixed and NL-only leagues, and will provide more value to owners in 5 x 5 leagues due to his strikeout potential.

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