I’ve received numerous emails from loyal MLBFP followers who were anxiously awaiting the return of our “Top 25 Fantasy Prospects” feature. No worries, I’m back to feed your fantasy prospect hunger and get you ready for your 2010 drafts.
There must be some marvelous perks associated with joining the Madison Bumgarner Hate Club. Membership in the club skyrocketed at the end of last season and has continued to trend upward in the offseason. Geez, you would think Bumgarner would receive nothing but love after posting a 12-2 record, 1.85 ERA and .211 BAA across High-A and Double-A last year – as a 20 year-old? Nope, the mad hate has still been flowing for Mad-Bum.
Okay, there probably aren’t many perks associated with joining the Mad-Bum Hate Club. So, why has Bumgarner’s prospect stock taken a hit despite his ridiculous success? Three reasons, my fantasy friends:
- Radar gun obsession
- Tunnel vision analysis
- Contrarian viewpoints
Let’s examine all three reasons. As an initial matter, many began to sour on Bumgarner last year because his velocity went south – dipping from the mid-90s to the high-80s/low-90s. Okay, I agree that this velocity drop qualifies as a red flag. Nevertheless, the Giants still brought him up for a big league stint in September, and Bumgarner himself confirmed he felt completely healthy. Umm, didn’t anyone ever hear of a 20-year old kid wearing down after throwing over 280 innings in two years? These lower readings surely don’t mean he’s destined for an injury or that he has forever lost his velocity. Chill.
In addition, many tunnel vision-impaired analysts focused on the drop in K/9 rate from 10.42 at Low-A, to 8.51 at High-A, to 5.80 at Double-A. Sure, we would have liked to see an opposite trend. Again, however, Bumgarner was pitching at advanced levels for his age. In addition, many of these same critics fail to mention the 2.52 BB/9 and .209 BAA at the same level. Finally, let’s also not forget that he had a 9.00 K/9, along with a 1.80 ERA/1.10 WHIP/.229 BAA, in his short major league stint. These indicators aren’t impressive?
Finally, many analysts merely want to be contrarians. Bumgarner is one of those highly touted prospects who some experts wanted to rip last year to go against the (former) mainstream. This nega-hype just picked up steam in the offseason. At MLBFP, we aren’t letting one period of sub-par radar gun readings, or one statistical indicator from one level of the minors (low K/9 at Double-A), tarnish our view of a stud prospect who has done nothing but produce at both the minor and major league levels – as a baby. You will also never see us take a “dare to be different” viewpoint on a player just to draw some attention.
As you can tell, I am enthusiastically aboard the Bumgarner hype train. The 6-4, 215-pound lefty has tremendous command on his fastball whether he’s throwing it 89 mph or 93 mph. Further, he isn’t afraid to work inside to both righties and lefties -- a key to southpaw success. There’s no doubt that Mad-Bum’s secondary stuff is still a work-in-progress. He has a slider with a nasty late break, but he’s been inconsistent with the pitch. That said, when he does finds the proper release point for slider, he ties left-handed hitters up like a Philly pretzel and makes right-handed hitters look statuesque. Bumgarner is also working on a changeup that will make him an elite pitcher once he masters it. Seriously, given his already advanced command, how scary will this dude be once he develops his entire arsenal?
Bumgarner still needs some seasoning in the minors. Let’s hope the Giants give him that time rather than rushing him this season. Bumgarner will become a part of the Giants rotation at some point this year. Nevertheless, you don’t want to be depending on him for fantasy success in redraft leagues because there will be some growing pains as he develops his secondary weapons. Mad-Bum’s true value is in keeper leagues, where you can watch him develop into a fantasy ace.