February 15, 2011

Player Snapshot: Mat Latos

Well ladies and gentlemen, its that time again. I am emerging from my mancave hibernation/ Packer Super Bowl Stupor to bring out the big stick. And this one has yet to be photographed by Brett Favre's cell phone. No, this big stick is made of maple or oak or cork... thanks to good ole Sammy Sosa. It's that beautiful time of year again, fantasy baseball season! No longer do we have to wait until Sunday to see how many points we will crush the competition by. We get to tally up a homer or two EVERY DAY. I mean, who doesn't love watching a longball on Sportscenter and saying to yourself, "yeah that's one for me baby!"

Unfortunately, this article isn't going to focus on homers. Instead, lets turn our attention to the land where home runs go to die, Petco Park. The only true offensive threat from 2010 is dawning new Sahx, but one man still stands tall in San Diego. Literally. Mat Latos is a 6'6", 225 pound man-beast. I saw him at a restaurant one time, and I instinctively cowered a little. And I'm 6'5". Imagine what it would feel like to be staring him down knowing that he is aiming a 95 MPH projectile in your general direction. I guess that's why you only need to succeed 3 out of 10 times as a hitter to be a Hall-of-Famer.

But I digress, sure the guy is an imposing figure on the mound, but what makes him such a contender for all of my fantasy teams this year? His potential. I mean, Mat probably still has to get carded to buy cigars but he set an MLB record with 15 straight starts with 5+ innings and 2 or less earned runs. In other words, barring an incredible collapse, this dude should be a stud.

Don't believe me? Let's look back at last year's campaign and delve into the numbers a bit:

184 IP:
Normally you have to worry about young arms being held back. However, given the firesale Jed Hoyer is putting on, who stands in Latos' way of 200+ innings?

2.92 ERA:
If it hadn't been the "Year of the Pitcher" this type of figure would have set off major alarms across the country. Playing in Petco with either an improved or somewhat similar defense behind him almost assuredly keeps it in the sub- to low-3.00 territory.

189 Ks:
More innings should mean more Ks. Plus, a major rule to follow when drafting pitchers is, "they can always fall back on strikeouts". Even if his ERA were to float up a little, you can undoubtedly hang your hat on 190 Ks.

9.21 Ks/9:
Just in case you needed more proof.

.78 HRs/9:
Do you hear that? That's all of us Padre fans weeping with joy... and a little bit weeping because we have a ballpark that results in zero fun.

 Those are some eye-popping digits. Sure his BABIP of .273 might signal a bit of luck falling on Mr. Latos' side, but with the ballpark and defense he has behind him its not out of the picture that his BABIP will naturally be lower than the league average. Either way, I see Latos as being a high-quality pick in upcoming fantasy drafts, and he will certainly have a 6'6" star next to his name on my draft sheet.