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Want to Be-Like-Jake: Who's Next?

Arrieta broke out and never turned back after the trade to Chicago. Others broke out in a similar way. Who will be next?

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Jake Arrieta: the guy we've been talking about lately. Rightfully so, he hasn't lost a game between the two no-hitters he's thrown in the past eight months. He's gone 10-0 over those 11 starts. During such starts, Jake accumulated some gaudy statistics: 86 IP, 36 hits, while allowing just 3 HRs. One of those games he gave up 2 home runs in Arizona earlier this year. One to Goldy and one to Brito. He gave a third one up to Aaron Altherr during Aaron's quiet breakout back in September of 2015.

Jake Arrieta has proven to be a good pitcher. What attributes to being a good pitcher? Many will say lots of K's are most important then second might come great movement on pitches that leads to soft contact. Arrieta can fan guys with the best of them, but what he is truly elite at; is creating soft contact. Soft contact mixed with a good defensive infield gives guys like Arrieta the chance to throw no-hitters. What I can conclude, is that Arrieta's make-up is a perfect model to use for forecasting future talent. It may help predict a break out from some guys that have the ability to make strides just like Arrieta did after leaving Baltimore. We will use Jake as a model to find some guys that harness the same type of game as he does. Here's my analytical, Want-to-be-like-Jake, model:

  • K > 7 per 9
  • BB < 3.0
  • Soft% > 18%
  • GB% > 44%
Here's the leaderboard for the past two years under these parameters:

Name K/9 BB/9 Soft% HR/FB GB% BABIP
Dallas Keuchel 7.5 2.2 23.80% 10.90% 62.20% 0.282
Jake Arrieta 9.3 2.1 22.90% 6.50% 53.50% 0.251
Jon Lester 8.9 2.0 21.90% 9.00% 45.50% 0.290
Clayton Kershaw 11.2 1.5 21.70% 8.60% 50.30% 0.277
Cole Hamels 8.9 2.7 21.60% 11.00% 47.40% 0.292
Garrett Richards 8.2 2.9 21.50% 9.20% 52.90% 0.275
Zack Greinke 8.3 1.8 21.20% 8.40% 48.10% 0.273
Jaime Garcia 7.5 2.1 20.80% 9.40% 59.30% 0.264
Noah Syndergaard 10.3 1.9 20.80% 13.30% 47.80% 0.285
Kyle Hendricks 7.4 2.0 20.70% 9.60% 50.60% 0.289
Aaron Nola 8.5 2.1 19.90% 14.70% 46.70% 0.286
Jeff Samardzija 7.6 1.9 19.20% 11.00% 44.30% 0.294
Sonny Gray 7.4 2.8 19.10% 9.70% 55.00% 0.264
Matt Harvey 8.6 1.9 19.00% 9.40% 45.80% 0.282
Masahiro Tanaka 8.4 1.6 18.80% 15.20% 47.60% 0.268
Jacob deGrom 9.4 2.1 18.60% 7.80% 44.90% 0.285
Felix Hernandez 8.9 2.4 18.60% 12.90% 57.30% 0.269
Gerrit Cole 9.0 2.1 18.50% 6.50% 47.50% 0.308
Carlos Carrasco 10.3 1.9 18.50% 12.00% 50.20% 0.283
Stephen Strasburg 10.1 1.7 18.30% 12.20% 45.50% 0.305
Hisashi Iwakuma 7.6 1.3 18.30% 13.70% 49.70% 0.283
Corey Kluber 10.2 1.9 18.10% 9.50% 45.10% 0.302


Okay, A LOT of big names. The model indeed elicits the notion: good pitcher. I included the a HR/FB column to give those guys a chance, who don't have an elite HR/FB rate, to do what Arrieta himself did back in 2014; create soft contact and keep the ball in the yard.

Here are some break out guys in the same mold as Arrieta that fantasy owners drooled over during the past couple seasons. The key was to get these guys early when the signs indicated breakout. Hopefully you found at least one of these guys either via the draft or waiver wire.

  • Harvey 2013
(He was drafted 216 overall in my 14-team dynasty league 2013-2014 draft)

He was never ranked higher than 50 in BA's top 100 ever and 25th was the highest for BP's top 100.
  • Arrieta 2014

(The 14-team dynasty league I'm in, Arrieta was acquired via trade: Side A) Wacha for Side B) Wilin Rosario and Arrieta)


Side B just didn't realize what Arrieta was molding into.

  • Kluber 2014
(2013 he was owned by myself and I dropped him late in the year in pursuit of young prospects on the waiver wire thinking he wouldn't repeat. Early 2014 he was picked off the waiver wire for $0 FAAB.)

I am ashamed of myself.

  • deGrom 2014

(2014 I picked him up off the waiver wire for cheap in Sept when we really started seeing the All-Star he is now.)

I made up for the Kluber mistake.

  • Carrasco 2014

(Added from waiver wire in Aug for cheap.)

Added by the same guy that got Kluber. He must have a good eye...

  • Keuchel 2014 but mainly 2015

(Added via waiver wire in late May of 2014)

This owner made quite a pick up. Keuchel had a 3.60 ERA and HR/FB rate north of 16% in May of 2014. He rode it out.)

----

I brought all of these guys to your attention because they all made fantasy owners extremely happy and most likely led them to the playoffs and further. These are the guys (acquired for next to nothing) that really win championships in leagues. If you are too slow to jump on them, you're really reeling when it comes to the end of the season when your asking yourself "why didn't I pick up deGrom when I had the chance"? "why didn't i trade for Kluber when his price was low enough"? These moves are truly make or break for a winning season.

Ultimately, I feel like leaving you a little open-ended. Leaving you with the tools to make the big decisions. Here is the chart with the same parameters that covers the past calendar year and has a lot of names on it that could be breakouts. I'll also leave behind a couple guys that I personally think can take the next step and have a breakout season. Keep in mind: breakouts are NOT ALWAYS going to be ex-top-10 prospects. It is a huge fallacy that I see performed by so many baseball minds in fantasy baseball. To think that prospects are the only players that can have good break-out seasons, is to think lazily. A breakout can happen to a 22 year old non prospect to 35 year-old vets. You just have to find them.

Name K/9 BB/9 Soft% HR/FB GB% BABIP
Rich Hill 12.2 2.6 28.00% 9.40% 50.90% 0.298
Dallas Keuchel 8.6 2.0 25.40% 13.80% 60.00% 0.290
Luis Severino 7.6 2.6 25.10% 17.70% 51.50% 0.299
Kevin Gausman 8.1 2.2 23.20% 13.60% 44.80% 0.289
Jake Arrieta 9.1 1.9 22.90% 9.00% 56.50% 0.237
Jon Lester 8.8 2.0 22.90% 10.70% 48.80% 0.278
Nathan Eovaldi 7.5 2.7 22.30% 9.60% 51.90% 0.331
Collin McHugh 7.5 2.4 22.20% 8.70% 43.30% 0.323
Mat Latos 7.1 2.3 21.90% 8.60% 46.40% 0.267
Wei-Yin Chen 7.3 1.7 21.40% 11.90% 41.10% 0.300
Cole Hamels 9.1 2.6 21.30% 10.60% 47.60% 0.303
Zack Greinke 8.2 1.7 21.20% 8.00% 47.00% 0.245
Jaime Garcia 7.4 2.3 21.20% 6.30% 60.60% 0.263
Stephen Strasburg 11.0 1.8 21.00% 13.10% 45.40% 0.290
Noah Syndergaard 10.3 1.9 20.80% 13.30% 47.80% 0.285
Johnny Cueto 7.1 1.9 20.80% 9.30% 42.60% 0.287
Chris Sale 11.6 1.7 20.70% 12.10% 42.90% 0.304
Michael Wacha 7.7 3.0 20.50% 10.00% 44.10% 0.290
Jacob deGrom 9.8 1.7 20.40% 8.10% 46.00% 0.272
Scott Kazmir 7.2 2.9 20.00% 12.30% 42.50% 0.281
Aaron Nola 8.5 2.1 19.90% 14.70% 46.70% 0.286
Clayton Kershaw 11.2 1.4 19.60% 8.90% 50.20% 0.263
Jordan Zimmermann 7.6 1.8 19.50% 11.00% 43.40% 0.296
Eduardo Rodriguez 7.3 2.7 19.40% 10.40% 43.00% 0.289
Gerrit Cole 8.6 1.9 19.20% 6.00% 45.90% 0.308
Steven Matz 9.2 2.5 19.10% 11.40% 46.80% 0.331
Clay Buchholz 7.6 2.0 19.10% 7.30% 45.00% 0.317
Matt Harvey 8.3 2.0 19.00% 9.10% 46.30% 0.279
Kyle Hendricks 8.3 2.2 18.90% 12.30% 51.70% 0.296
Madison Bumgarner 10.2 1.8 18.80% 11.40% 41.60% 0.279
Anibal Sanchez 7.7 3.0 18.60% 16.20% 40.90% 0.292
Danny Salazar 9.3 2.7 18.50% 11.40% 44.90% 0.265
Masahiro Tanaka 7.9 1.5 18.50% 17.90% 49.70% 0.247
J.A. Happ 7.8 2.5 18.50% 8.70% 41.00% 0.315
Anthony DeSclafani 7.4 2.8 18.50% 9.90% 45.10% 0.337
Sonny Gray 7.6 2.8 18.30% 10.50% 54.30% 0.262
Jesse Chavez 7.7 2.7 18.30% 11.60% 43.90% 0.323
David Price 9.7 1.9 18.20% 9.00% 40.80% 0.299
Corey Kluber 9.9 1.8 18.10% 10.70% 42.30% 0.292

A lot of these guys are probably owned in your league. But maybe some aren't depending how deep a league you play in.

I wrote this article to find guys that have the "mold" to be breakouts. Eventually you might see some of the lesser known guys on this list do such.

My personal take: Hendricks, Nola, and Eovaldi were on my watch list entering 2016. Maybe JA Happ has something to prove this year. Or maybe its a lesser known prospect that gets an opportunity, say; Michael Fullmer, Aaron Blair, or Kyle Zimmer. Breakouts are going to happen. Do some research and don't miss out on "the guy" this year.