There are a couple of fantasy baseball deep sleepers each year that can make the difference for your team. The following 2012 profile of Bud Norris will analyze the chances that he might be one of the next big sleepers. He was selected using my sabermetrically-inclined methodology which is detailed in this introductory post.
ADP as of this posting: 231.13 (Round 20 in 12-team league)
Projected 2012 Role: HOU #3 SP
2011 Production: 6-11 W/L, 3.77 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 176 K in 186 IP
My 2012 Prediction: 8-10 W/L, 3.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 190 K
Bud Norris has always been a bit of a strikeout artist. In 355 minor league innings, Norris struck out 375 batters. He continued that success with a 9.15 K/9 rate in the majors heading into the 2011 season. Despite those gaudy strikeout numbers, his Achilles’ Heel had been his flirtation with walks as evidenced by his 4.40 BB/9 rate heading into last year. In 2011, he registered a much improved walk rate by dropping it down to 3.39 per 9. By having those 20-or-so less baserunners, it helped lower his WHIP and ERA to career lows.
In crunching the numbers, the best comparable in my eyes for what Norris could be in 2011 is C.J. Wilson. In 2011, Wilson had a K/9 of 8.30 which Norris should be able to match and he had a 2.98 BB/9 after years of it being above 4.00. Norris is certainly not the same exact pitcher since Wilson is more of a groundball pitcher so Norris will let up a few more HR’s along the way. But, regardless, Norris has the potential to deliver a low ERA, high strikeout total and a respectable WHIP. However, you should not expect Wins from Norris as the Astros may even be worse than last year. If he played for a team where he could register 10 or more wins then he likely would be a hotter commodity this year. Your best hope is that he can get traded to a contender and get some wins that way.
The worst case scenario would be a serious regression in his control that would force his walk rate to rise again. But if he can maintain his walk rate from last year or improve upon it even more then Norris is a great late-round value as he helps you in a few areas while only hurting you in the Wins department.
Sleeper Verdict: Sleepy. He has great potential but also represents a risk as he hasn’t yet shown us he is completely able to deliver upon that potential. But, in the 20th round of your draft, why not take a chance?