KBO DFS: The Argument for Aaron Brooks

Let’s get to the point:

Player A has a big edge in Ks, but Player C has a huge edge in walks. Players B and C have a huge edge over A in HRs allowed, and C the slight edge over B. Players A and C have a huge edge in K-BB%, and C the slight edge over A. Then, the big one: Player C has the huge edge in FIP. Player A has the power edge, but Player C is having the better season, overall.

Player A is the Drew Rucinski. Player C is Aaron Brooks.

Between Rucinski and Brooks, the choice is clear, considering pricing and matchups.

Brooks has thrown the Korean Kryptonite (the sinker) with perfection in 2020. It’s not an elite sinker, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s a sinker and he has the wits about him to use it a lot. The difference between elite pitching and very good pitching isn’t only in the stuff itself, but also in the willingness and confidence to use their strengths at a high frequency.

BrooksBaseball.net scouts Brooks’ sinker, based on his MLB output, as having generated“somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers”—displayed in his 38.1% overall flyball rate in 2019, throwing his sinker 31.4% of the time. The results in his first Korean season have been far different.

Still throwing the sinker 33.8% of the time, Brooks has generated 70 groundballs to only 20 flyballs in 48.1 IP. Add in his 42 Ks and that’s more than twice per inning that a plate appearance has ended with a punchout or grounder. No wonder his 1.19 WHIP is ninth in the league.

And it’s a hard sinker, averaging 92 mph. Remembering that the average KBO fastball is 88 mph, we can only imagine how difficult Brooks’ pitch is to hit when it’s coming at four mph faster than a fastball and, then, dropping off the table. The changeup coming in at 84.7 mph is such a sharp contrast with the sinker and 93.3 mph fastball that it’s no wonder his K rate is up from the 6.8 K/9 he had in his Triple-A career. Brooks’ K rate doesn’t look like much from an MLB fan’s eye, but his 7.88 K/9 is 0.88 over the KBO rate and is 11th in the league.

On top and where he stands in WHIP and K rate, Brooks is among the most elite control pitchers in The O. His 1.50 BB/9 ranks fourth. Mixed with the grounders and the K, it’s really difficult to find the well-hit balls when hitters are hitting .095 on balls in the infield. When hitters are lifting to the outfield, they’re hitting .746, but Brooks isn’t giving up to the outfield with a 21.9% K rate and a 3.50 GB:FB ratio. The hits to the outfield aren’t really worth mentioning.

Which circles us back to Rucinski, who is sitting at a hyperelite 8.76 K/9 this season. I’m saying this is false. Rucinski only had 7.1 K/9 in Triple-A and 6.0 in the 2019 KBO season. Now, he’s six percentage points over the average rate? He’s got the hard Korean Kryptonite, too, at 91 mph, but he’s generating only a 1.04 GB:FB ratio. So whatever he’s doing to get more Ks might be generating more flyballs? In which case, the KT Wiz matchup is pretty scary.

The KT Wiz is full of power. They’re hitting an average .277, but tied for second with 47 HRs and third with an .806 OPS. Their star outfielders Mel Rojas, Jr. and Baek-ho Kang have .479 and .476 wOBAs, respectively. They’ve combined for 23 HRs in 50 games. Jae-gyun Hwang is having a bad start, but is coming off of 45 HRs the last two seasons with .378 and .375 wOBAs.

Meanwhile, Brooks gets to face the tragically average and forgettable Lotte squad. The Giants have scored a below-average 4.66 runs per game, hit a second-to-last 30 HRs, and are sitting third-to-last with a .727 OPS. They have seven hitters in their projected lineup with wOBAs under .350 versus RHPs.

In a vacuum, Rucinski and Brooks are pretty even. And the argument for Rucinski is understood, as the recent Ks can’t be denied. But going with the $800 cheaper option against the better matchup is wiser. Rucinski has a wide range of outcomes in his expectation, whereas Brooks has a high floor and an equally high ceiling.

MARGINAL NOTES

— Player B was Chris Flexen, who gets left out of this mix. If Brooks had more risk attached, Flexen would be the master galaxybrain tournament pivot. The risk just isn’t there outside of MME play.

— Stacks are slim-pickins. Nothing is ever safe in baseball stacks, but tonight more unsafe than ever. Kia is probably the top stack, but they’re tragically mediocre. Samsung is second, but worse than Kia and might be chalky due to their pricing—potential bad chalk alert.

— Doosan is Doosan but against a pitcher who’s only given up 0.50 HR/9 since 2019, it’s a decent slate to fade them; also, Doosan sucks against lefties.

— Kiwoom is somewhere in that mix against a lefty making his first start. Probably should be ahead of Doosan. But, again, everyone is going there tomorrow.

—The ultimate galaxybrain stack is the NC Dinos against Odrisimer Despaigne. Looking to play five lineups on each site tonight. They’re a go in two or three If I only play three lineups, they’re still in at least one. Because Despaigne has given up 20 runs and four HRs in his last four games (22.0 IP) and the Dinos are the Dinos. If there’s a slate where Dinos ownership will be irrationally depressed, it’s this one.

— SP2 is pretty easy. We can squeeze in Brooks with Flexen or Rucinski with Samsung savings. Or we can easily afford NC-Kia with Brooks and either Chae-Heung Choi or Tae-Hoon Kim. Choi may be the chalk SP2 because Kim has a deceptively high ERA and is facing Doosan. If we fading Doosan, a share or two of Kim is warranted because of what we know. That said, Choi faces Hanwha. Here’s a quick comparison:

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