Player Spotlight: 2019 Fantasy Baseball Trevor Richards

by Samir Qurashi
2019 Fantasy Baseball Trevor Richards

This weekend the MLB delivered the loudest welcome back since Mase’s 2004 sampled cash grab. Fantasy baseball also announced it was back in a loud way with narratives not limited to Chris Sale’s meteoric descent into fantasy bust on the last place Boston Red Sox.

During football season it is known as the Kevin Ogletree Effect. Baseball fans have too many names for it. Nothing welcomes us back to fantasy sports better than the early season overreaction. The skies are falling and the hills have eyes.

Unlike those spooked fantasy owners that are considering kicking Eddie Rosario to the curb, you are an early-season waiver wire surgeon. And this early in the season there is a particular position of intrigue worth dissecting: Starting Pitching.'

Whether you are in a 10, 12, 14 team or larger league, streaming SP by matchups is always going to be a great strategy for in-season management. Rarely does anyone hit on every pitcher they take in a draft, no matter the league's size.

Given the depth of fantasy roster fringe starters who performed well this weekend (i.e. Mike Fiers, Trevor Williams, Marcus Stroman), we thought we’d highlight a potential ace who has been everywhere but under the spotlight across in baseball career.

2019 Fantasy Baseball Trevor Richards

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A Path Less Traveled

Trevor Richards, SP, Miami Marlins
AGE: 25, 2nd MLB Season
4/2 ESPN Ownership - 31%
4/2 Yahoo! Ownership - 12%
NFBC ADP: 309.42. 115th Pitcher/289th Overall

Drafted around the likes of an injured 2B Scooter Gennett and White Sox SP Carlos Rodon, Trevor Richards may have been off the logical radar for fantasy managers in 12 team leagues. Miami isn’t littered with fantasy talent these days. I don’t even want their closer, which is borderline fantasy baseball blasphemy. Nevertheless, Richards has the ace potential that translates to fantasy success.

Richards went undrafted out of Drury University then headed to the Gateway Grizzlies of the Independent League. The Marlins scooped him up a year and a half later and he rewarded their investment instantly with a 2.48 ERA across 54.1 innings in low A ball.

In 2017 he annihilated A+ competition with a 0.93 WHIP and 10.3 K/9 rate earning a huge jump promotion to AA Jacksonville. From undrafted and in the Independent League to

Double-A in two seasons is pretty remarkable.

Richards went on to once again instantly reward the Marlins faith in him by sporting a 2.87 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 across 14 AA starts in route to being named the Marlins Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017:

“I saw a lot better hitting up there in Jacksonville. It was a little different. High-A was good; it was all pitchers’ parks. Once you get to Double-A, that changes drastically. There are some good hitters there. It’s a big jump, and I would say I learned a lot form my half-a-season in Double-A.” - Richards to the Belleville News-Democrat in October 2017

Miami Vice: Park Factors

Home StadiumRun Factor
(MLB Rank)
HR Factor
(MLB Rank)
Hit Factor
(MLB Rank)
2B Factor
(MLB Rank)
3B Factor
(MLB Rank)
BB Facotr
(MLB Rank)

Christian Yelich was a fantastic young real life/fantasy player across his 4+ seasons in Miami. Yet it’s his release into the hitter-friendly wild that is Miller Park that offers a vote of confidence for considering Park Factors in fantasy baseball.

In comparison to other notorious pitcher parks in Oakland and Los Angeles, we see Marlins Park is significantly more generous to pitchers still. Marlins Park has served as the poster child for the “pitcher’s park” moniker since its 2012 opening. The issue hit a head when hitters complained enough to aid an effort to renovate in 2016 aimed at addressing the issue. And yet still the modifications have made no major differences.

Home3-4 (62.2)
Away1-5 (63.2)4.811.579.62.13.274/.820

As the previously mentioned quote from Richards demonstrated, he understands the concept of park factors. Marlins Park still heavily favors pitchers and Richards benefited directly from pitching at home. Along with great defense (like Lewis Brinson manning center field) preferential Park Factors are great in assisting the development of a young, talented pitcher’s confidence. With half his games slated for Marlins Park, consider this a plus for both his season long and streaming fantasy outlook.

Splits and Spring, Foreshadowing

1st Half13 (62.2)4.741.559.21.84.276/.339
2nd Half12 (63.2)4.101.2310.33.17.229/.285
2018 Totals25 (126.1)4.421.399.32.41.253/.314

The improvement Richards demonstrated across the second half of the season was in line with what you want to see from a young pitcher. You especially love to see the whispering of the bats with the decrease in batting average and BAbip against.

Across his first 13 starts, Richards pitched through the fifth inning six times. Across his final 12 starts, he pitched through the fifth inning ten times. One of those second half starts was a 1.1 inning 6 ER disaster against the Phillies that ballooned his season ERA from 4.26 to 4.73.

Trevor Richards 2019 Spring Training Log


Another great fantasy baseball tradition that arises at this time every year is the classic “See, Spring Training doesn’t meant ____.” And that tradition is pretty tried and true. But let’s consider how Richards also got better across each start this Spring, similarly to his showing across the 2018 season. The overall 20:4 K:BB rate is a fantastic sign as Richard’s K:BB rate improved in 4/5 months across the 2018 season.

Take a look at what he did to the reborn Paul Goldschmidt during their March 17th Spring Training battle:

The Best Changeup in Baseball. Period.

Demoralizing big Paul Goldschmidt is a great segway into the most intriguing element of Trevor Richards’ fantasy value. On the way to deep diving into Trevor Richards’ pitching repertoire, the message is universal: Richards might have the best changeup in baseball. Period.

2018 PitchUsageSwing%Whiff%Whiff/Swing %BAA/BAbipSLG
4 Seam54.77%36.17%4.58%12.67%.312/.362.524

That’s a nasty pitch. For starters pitching a minimum of 120 innings, Richards’ changeup had the second highest pitch value (14.8) trailing only Kyle Hendricks (16.6). This ranked his change well ahead of change hurling notables Jacob DeGrom (12.8), Zack Greinke (10.6), and Blake Snell (7.2).

Spotlight Says...

Richards has been working on diversifying his pitch usage throughout the offseason. This was on full display in his first 2019 start against the Rockies: 4-seam (37%), Curve (7.41%), Slider (21%), Change (34.57%).

He kept up with German Marquez and limited the powerful Rockies lineup to the tune of 4 hits, 1 ER, and 2 BBs, across six innings. And also this mini-viral moment:

This was Richards third time battling Arenado at the plate. In his first at-bat, Arenado swung at the first pitch and hit a flyout. During his second at bat he knocked a 1-0 pitch to deep right center for a single. The pivotal third meeting saw Arenado go up 2-0, then proceed to be massacred by the three pitches you see above. Richards’ change is one of the deadliest pitches in the game. Period.

The Marlins have a full complement of inexperienced starters in their rotation. They are in a tank mode that the world may never fully understand. Trevor Richards is locked into their rotation. Given his rise from obscurity, he seems determined to take advantage of the opportunity.

He’ll play half his games at Marlins Park, and he’s armed with the best change in baseball. The wins may never come but a high K and low WHIP potential, along with a low ERA, is on the horizon. Lock in Trevor Richards as an early 2019 fantasy asset with the potential to reach SP3 level returns.

Check out the rest of our 2019 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

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