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February 6, 2012 posted by Chuck Anderson

Fantasy Baseball 2012 Off the Grid: Bud Norris

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Bud Norris, SP, Houston Astros

Vital Stats:  MDC rank:  308, 91st SP picked, drafted in 62.6% of leagues

If wins were discarded Bud Norris would have finished far higher in the fantasy rankings last year.  He concluded 2011 with a meager six victories.  Not that the point needs to be driven home, but wins are just not predictive year to year.  On the same Houston team Wandy Rodriguez made one fewer start, had a higher FIP, and essentially the same xFIP (3.72 vs. 3.73) as Norris and won eleven games.  Even if he just maintains his skill set he is better than most end of the rotation fantasy pitchers and could double his win total.

Norris’ K/9 decreased from 9.25 in 2010 to 8.52 but improvements in other areas show that he was a more effective pitcher in 2011.  His K/9 was still eighteenth overall so he did not stop missing bats to any drastic degree.  His swinging strike rate remained over 10% and was fifteenth among starters.  He also shaved over one walk off his BB/9 allowing his K/BB to jump from 2.05 to 2.51.  Cutting the walks also had a huge hand in dropping his WHIP from 1.48 to 1.33.  His FIP and xFIP both trend down over his three years in Houston:

FIP xFIP
2009 4.77 4.32
2010 4.17 3.96
2011 4.02 3.73

In 2011 Norris was much better at getting strike one.  His first strike rate increased from 54.5% to 58.9%.  Getting ahead allowed him to go to his slider and changeup more often.  His slider in particular is a devastating pitch, registering an almost 20% whiff rate over his career.  Thanks to getting into better counts batters both swung and chased Norris’ pitches at rates above league average.

Norris will turn 27 the month before the 2012 season starts.  He is entering his prime both in terms of age and experience.  While Houston did not do much to improve Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder left the division and Ryan Braun will miss the first third of the year.  The NL Central became much easier to pitch to.  Draft Norris ahead of pitchers like Phil Hughes (244), Erik Bedard (249), Carlos Zambrano (256), Johan Santana (265), or Drew Pomeranz (293).

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