The Best Free Agent Pitchers You've Never Heard Of
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The Best Free Agent Pitchers You've Never Heard Of

If your favorite team is on a budget, here are two pitchers to target this offseason.

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The Best Free Agent Pitchers You've Never Heard Of

The 2014 – 2015 season has unfortunately come to a close. The Kansas City Royals were crowned champions and 29 other teams walked away downtrodden. But take heart, all teams other than Kansas City, for the offseason has begun! With qualifying offers already being extended, and a trade having already been completed between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Seattle Mariners, the offseason is in full swing, and this winter looks to be a doozy. This year’s crop of free agents is one of the deepest in recent memories with names like Yoenis Cespedes, Zach Greinke, David Price, and Johnny Cueto highlighting the pack. They’re high profile, and they’re good, but if your favorite team is involved in a smaller market, these players probably won’t call your favorite team “home” by the time next season rolls around. Instead we’re going to be looking at the best free agent pitchers you’ve never heard of.

Brett Anderson:

2015 was a kind year to our southpaw Anderson. Over the course of the year, he notched a respectable 3.69 ERA along with rather weak 5.8 K/9 but a strong 2.3 BB/9. Anderson’s not going to catch any headlines with these stats, but that’s exactly why he’s great for a team on a budget. In my opinion, he’s a much stronger pitcher than these numbers suggest. Here’s his ERA breakdown by month this season:

Month

ERA

April

5.49

May

2.27

June

2.67

July

3.14

August

4.41

September

6.20

Outside of a couple bad months, it really was some spectacular pitching. And I’ll give you a reason why you shouldn’t look too much into the August and September ERA. This was Brett Anderson’s first 100 innings pitched in a single season since 2010 when he was with the Oakland A’s. I’d peg his late season struggles with fatigue. There’s no question that going from less than half a season to full season will put some strain on your body. Add that to the fact that he’s been plagued with injuries throughout his career, and it looks like there’s a probably a good chance that his later months were poor simply due to being tired. Looking forward, I wouldn’t expect late season fatigue. During the off season he’ll be working on endurance training and staying healthy to make another 30 starts next season.

And the best part? His price tag! FanGraphs pegs he’ll cost around $28 million for two years. Not too shabby for an above average starter.

J.A. Happ:

Before the list of free agents came out, I had never heard of Happ. He’s had a pretty unremarkable career. For five straight years, he’s posted an ERA north of 4.00. So yeah, he’s not exactly great.

But then he got traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates late last year, July 31 actually. Since then, he’s been amazing. His ERA dove to 1.85 for the last two months. No, that’s not a typo. 1.85. Wow! When I first saw this, I figured it had to be a fluke that wouldn’t be sustainable. No one just pitches like an ace after being a scrub for five years.

Unless you’re names J.A. Happ, apparently.

Check out his pitch usage throughout his career:

Since traveling to Pittsburgh, his Fourseam (fastball) usage has skyrocketed (the black line at the very right). It’s not exactly his career high, but it’s just about there. Pair that with a steadily increasing fastball velocity, a fastball that rates as one of the most valuable in the game, and increased aggressiveness in the strike zone and the Pirates may just have unlocked Happ’s career right before he hits the market this winter. And just like Anderson, Happ’s going to be cheap. FanGraphs predicts that Happ will only earn $24 million over the course of three season.

Brett Anderson and J.A Happ are legitimate candidates to be a stable fixture in any teams’ rotation next year. Especially if your team is run by penny– pinchers, these two look to be your best bets.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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