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Maybe we finally have a Rockies Pitcher Who Can be used in Fantasy

Tyler Anderson has been pitching better than any other top tier rookie this season, but we haven't shown enough love for his great performance. Maybe we finally found a pitcher who can be free from the Rockies stigma.

This is the wake up call in the mountain.
This is the wake up call in the mountain.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

You don't have to be a baseball expert to understand there is something unique about the Coors Field. This is the land of barren where any pitcher, in real or fake (aka Fantasy) world will rot without being noticed until they slowly disappear with bloated ERA.

Because of its infamous nature, not only the top pitchers avoid signing with the franchise, but also the young prospects mostly fail to develop their skills, and that's why we can't separate any decent pitcher emerging from the Rockies system even with all the advanced-matric we have these days (Drew Pomeranz is coming pretty close to be the first former Rockies pitcher to be successful in MLB).

Before we talk about a specific player, we need to understand little bit more about the Coors. We tend to think that HR is the biggest issue for the Rockies pitchers, but that's not true. According to Fangraphs (every Park Factor I'm going to mention on this article is from Fangraphs), the Coors owns 113 HR Factor (allows 13% more HR than a regular stadium), which is the highest in the Major League. This would definitely cause some troubles, but it's not enough to separate the Coors from every other stadium. Other tiny stadiums like Great American (113), Miller (113), Camden (112), and Yankees (110) all allow comparable amount of HR, but we still have seen good pitchers rising from those franchises numerous times. Moreover, this season, the Rockies hitters are certainly hitting more HR at home (60 HR in 43 games) but not by significant amount (52 HR in 46 away games), so we do have a proof that the HR is not the difference maker here.

Let's try to solve this puzzle from a hitter's perspective. Corey Dickerson, who was acquired by the Rays this offseason, is mightily struggling in his new uniform. He still has no problem of displaying his enormous power (ISO with Rays: .226 with Rockies: .235), but his batting average has suffered a great deal (BA with Rays: .230 with Rockies: .299). The only change from his approach is that his line drive rate has dropped significantly, which reduced his BABIP by almost 100 points.

How did this happen? Did Corey suddenly change his swing angle? We can't be sure, but if we look at the Rockies hitters this year, they are currently hitting .306 at home and .241 away, and not surprisingly their BABIP also shows a big gap (H: .349 A: .294).  A hitter's BABIP has a huge correlation with his LD%, and the Coors owns 109 LD Factor, which is the highest in MLB (Fanway's 105 is 2nd).

I'm not a scientist, so I can't tell you how the Coors turns hard hit fly balls into the line drives, but the numbers show that it is actually happening. Such phenomenon will limit a pitcher's repertoire, which can't be a good environment for a young pitcher to develop their own pitches.

The obvious answer is the groundball. The main reason Matt Holiday survived when he climbed down the mountain was that he has been a career groundball hitter. As long as the balls stay on the ground, the Coors can't do much to alter the characteristic of the batted ball. We came a long way, but I've wrote this to bring up Tyler Anderson.

Tyler Anderson doesn't belong in the top tier rookie we would see this season, and he is even behind his teammate Jon Gray. Here, we have to focus on his ridiculous 59.8% groundball rate, however. Among the qualified pitchers, only Marcus Stroman owns higher GB% (59.9%).

High GB% doesn't guarantee a pitcher's overall quality, but the key here is that he could be the Coors-proof pitcher that the Rockies have been looking for years. We rarely see a highly-regarded rookie pitcher put up 8.1 K/9 3.03 ERA in his first 6 starts and still owned only in 12% of the leagues (Yahoo!). People are obviously afraid of the Coors, but there is a good chance that its thin air won't affect Anderson's performance very much.

We obviously can't be sure yet if he is actually a good pitcher (which is a big question), but he owns solid 2.38 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 throughout his minor league career, and his transition to the Majors have been smooth so far (8.1 K/9, 1.5 BB/9). He does own relatively high WHIP (1.26), but that's just a given nature of an extreme groundball pitcher (Top 10 GB% pitcher this season averages 1.33 WHIP).

If you don't like him at all, there is no need for an action. If you liked him, however, but afraid to add a Rockies pitcher, he could be a lot safer than you might think. He hasn't even been lucky with his HR/FB (17.4%), so we can't say his current line has too much to do with a good fortune (note that 81.2% stranded runner rate is a bit high, so be aware). He might be the pitcher-version of Matt Holiday, and you usually won't get such huge discount around this time of the year. Let's see if you have enough gut to take over the championship.

Rest of the Season Steamer Projection

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