Hunter Brown, 2023 Fantasy Outlook

Monday starts the sleepers on the site. Thank forkin gawd, amiright? Hon patreon, I’m starting the rankings. Holy schnikes! The best Black Friday sale ever! Are you giving a discount? No, Random Italicized Voice, I’m just saying Black Friday sale because everyone else is. Oh very cool.

So, the Houston Astros got a bad rap for, uh, rapping on a trash can. I get it. Think it’s pretty unfair, since everyone has tried to cheat. The “Yankees Letter” from Manfred couldn’t have been more ignored by The Sportswriters. People are fatigued by the cheating scandal. Fatigue is pronounced fay-tee-gay, it’s Italian. I get it, I don’t want to talk about it, after apparently talking about it. All I wanted to say is Astros seem to not get the respect they’re due in fantasy, and I think it’s because people are biased, whether consciously or not. The Astros’ pitching staff, for unstints, have they ever had a bad pitcher? Trying to remember. *pinching my temples* Who was their last bad pitcher? Do you smell? Okay, they traded him away for pen help. Astros, also, don’t develop bad arms. It’s one lights-out guy after another. Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia were all developed in-house. Forrest Whitley is like their last big bust, and I wouldn’t completely write him off yet. That brings us to Hunter Brown. Maybe I’m giving him unearned credit, due to other guys who have come up for the Astros, but he went 20 1/3 IP in the major leagues this year with a 0.89 ERA and 9.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 2.78 xFIP, which came after completely housing the minor leagues: 106 IP in Triple-A, 11.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, and 2.55 ERA. He feels like a virtual lock to be yet another huge Astros arm. So, what can we expect from Hunter Brown for 2023 fantasy baseball?

First, the peepers need to get greased:

Mah gawd, please, daddy, can I have another:

Is it just smoke? Oh, no, it’s fire:

I could watch this guy all day. He’s got something being classified as a cutter or a slider. People are struggling to hit it as much as they are classifying it. He throws it 93.2 MPH and it was hit for a .385 BAA, but, as we know, he had a great 20+ IP run in the majors, so he must not throw it much. Well, he throws it about 13% of the time. So, it’s not good? Oh, no, it’s got a .175 xBA, and .167 xWOBA. So, his slider is lights-out but he was unlucky with it. That means he had a 0.89 ERA but it could’ve been better. I know, the xERA and FIP are saying different, but I don’t care. He’s got five pitches, and three of them he throws just about 98% of the time, and they’re gorgeous. His 97 MPH fastball had a .167 BAA. That gets a major lulz from me. If he throws that 52% of the time, as he did last year, then, well, good luck to hitters. Hunter Brown has the ability to be a number two to three starter next year.

Okay, taking this back to my opening paragraph: Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy, and Luis Garcia are all under contract for 2023, and I’d be at least mildly shocked if Verlander doesn’t return to the Astros too. If I were the Astros, I’d trade Urquidy for a pen arm, or utility player, or literally anything I could get. Javier can throw in many situations, but I’d guess he’s in the rotation. Can Brown get into this rotation? Let’s put it this way, the Dodgers thought they had a glut of pitchers, then gave Tyler Anderson 178 2/3 IP. Of course, with Brown (and Verlander), that’s seven arms. That’s a lot of arms, but you trust the talent and the rest will figure itself out. Hunter Brown might only be good for 120 IP, but that’s going to be an excellent 120 IP. He’s the kind of guy you draft in the last round even though he doesn’t have a rotation spot. Speaking of Cristian Javier or Tony Gonsolin or Tyler Anderson, that was all of them last year! Late round picks who didn’t have a rotation spot yet. Trust the talent. Did I already say that? Well, yes, I’m emphasizing it. For 2023, I’ll give Hunter Brown projections of 8-2/3.41/1.12/129 in 118 IP with a chance for a bit more.

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