Fantasy Baseball Go Get or Trade ‘Em: Bud Norris
Bud Norris has the 41st best ERA (3.39) among qualified pitchers this season. He has the 69th best WHIP (1.48). These things, as the cool kids say, do not compute.
Making matters a bit murkier for Norris is an astoundingly small K% (14.9%) and K/9 rate (5.74). These are wretchedly below his career marks – and far below MLB average standards. This leads one to wonder how he’s put up such a solid ERA. It’s not BABIP luck (he has a .323 BABIP) or a mutant strand rate (75%). It is, mostly, that he has stifled HRs, posting a 5.9% HR/FB rate compared to his 11% career mark.
One would think, when the balls start clearing the fence, Norris will be totally unusable.
Not so fast my friend. While the HR/FB rate might regress, his K% should progress. Norris has a 9.4% swinging strike rate, which should portend more K’s than he is putting up. From 2010-2012, the 21 qualified pitchers with a swinging strike rate between 9.1% and 9.8% averaged a 7.6 K/9 rate and 20.2 K%.
So far, this season, Norris has averaged nearly 93 MPHs on his fastball and 85 MPHs on his slider – the two pitches he throws over 75% of the time. Last season his velocity was nearly identical. His slider was a bit faster in 2011, but not in a huge way. In addition, with a similar repertoire, Norris has a career 10.5% swinging strike rate and has gotten ahead of hitters this season far more than normal.
Given there isn’t a ton of variance in what and how hard Norris has been throwing, expect the K’s to come back in a good way. He should be good for an 8.35 K/9 rate, which could get him to 102 K’s ROTW.
His ERA will likely take a bit of a pounding as the HRs come back (4.35 ERA ROTW), but his WHIP will actually be better with fewer balls in play (1.39 WHIP ROTW).
In short, if you need K’s, Norris is a good pitcher to acquire. However, if you are looking to safeguard ratios, Norris might be someone to trade and hope someone is hypnotized by that shiny ERA.