I wrote about the Most Valuable Fantasy pitcher earlier. This time, I’m talking about the least valuable. This pitcher was someone drafted fairly high, but disappointed all fantasy owners. He had great success in the past couple of years and owners thought it would translate well to his new team. That wasn’t the case. If you owned Jeff Samardzija, you know what I’m talking about.
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Samardzija became a starter for the Chicago Cubs in 2012 when he started 28 games, finishing with a 9-13 record, 3.81 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. The following year wasn’t the best, 4.34 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Last season, Samardzija had a 2.99 ERA and 1.10 WHIP between his time with the Cubs and Oakland Athletics.
Jeff Samardzija was decent in half of a season in the American League, so fantasy owners were expecting more of the same when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. After the first month, that wasn’t going to be the case.
As the 16th starting pitcher taken in ESPN drafts, he had a 4.78 ERA after five starts. He allowed four or more runs in three of those starts. He settled down a bit in May, allowing three or fewer runs in four of his five starts. It would be more of the roller coaster-like season in 2015.
Samardzija allowed four or more runs in 17 of his 32 starts this season. He allowed the most hits, earned runs and a .273 opposing batting average among all starting pitchers. He struck out just 163 batters, lowest since becoming a starter.
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He had a 1.22 HR/9 rate and a 39.8 fly ball percentage, both 11th-most among qualified starters. His 4.23 FIP takes some of the blame off his defense, but having the seventh-most team errors doesn’t help his numbers either.
While he ended the season with two straight quality starts, including a complete game shutout against the Detroit Tigers, Jeff Samardzija finished as the No. 107 starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater.
The seventh-round pick showed signs of his former self, but there were too many instances of him giving up six-plus hits in a start. He was a disappointment to not only his fantasy owners, but the White Sox fans as well. Unless he shows signs of improvement during Spring Training, Jeff Samardzija may be undraftable next season.