Much Matt Cain in Johnny Cueto, minus respect, even in fantasy baseball

      November 9, 2012 @ 12:57:37 PDT

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Cueto's reduced rate of K's may have understandably scared off, just a bit, bidders who were troubled by the inflammation that he experienced in various parts of his arm at the open of spring training in 2011. Nothing, other than overstated concern about Great American Ball Park's impact on his performance, could explain it, otherwise.

Incidentally, Cain dealt with his own bout of inflammation around his elbow throughout spring of the same year. He rested, as Cueto did, and has been fine since.

Cueto
Year
GB%
FB%
HR/9
SB
CS
2008
38.6%
40.5%
1.50
7
6
2009
41.6%
40.6%
1.26
2
5
2010
41.7%
38.9%
0.92
3
4
2011
53.7%
30.1%
0.46
1
4
2012
48.9%
29.4%
0.62
1
9

Cueto was healthy throughout this year and, of course, pitched brilliantly. At this point, the rotisserie crowd will have trouble not paying something closer to Cain dollars for the Cincinnati Reds' pitcher come 2013. Or will it?

Cueto, until this season, was in part a victim of his failure to generate W's, like Cain has been for most of his career. Cincy's pitcher registered 19 victories in 2012, however. He rewarded his roto managers with a fine total in that category, but he could also become a casualty of the recent devaluation of W's by the shifting mainstream. The sabermetrics society has positively influenced how we interpret baseball statistics. But do the masses perceive an inflated roto return for Cueto based on his spike in wins or an advancing pitcher approaching his prime years?

Cueto, at least in my view, produced only a little of the former and is quite a lot of the latter. It'd be interesting to see how this year's postseason would've played out had he not left Game 1 of the NLDS in the first inning with an oblique strain.

Cueto (34th, 2008), like Cain (three appearances), was a highly touted prospect, although they arrived at their respective spots on Baseball America's top-100 lists via different paths. The former signed as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2004; the latter was a first-round draft pick in 2002.

Cueto's development has somewhat mimicked Cain's, however. In fact, one could argue that the growth of the Reds' pitcher has been more diverse. Cueto appears to have subverted the effects of the bandbox he calls home by reducing his fly-ball rate (and thus, rate of homers allowed per nine) substantially. He's also improved his time to the plate and ability to hold on runners.

AT&T Park hasn't provided Cain with the same impetus to alter his method to record outs. Fly balls, at home, are often a good thing for him. An examination of the base-stealing record against him shows that Cain isn't Cueto's equal in that department.

Cain and Cueto are outstanding pitchers, real or otherwise. Although the latter's price will likely rise next year, he may again prove to be a relative bargain. Which is kind of a crime, at this point.

(All stats are from Fangraphs, which becomes cooler with every degree of customization the site adds.)

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About Nicholas Minnix

Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.

The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.

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