One blindspot in fantasy baseball continues to be chasing upside. No one gets excited when a veteran reliever signs with a team who may not contend. This time last year, Brandon Kintzler made folks feel dirty who drafted him hoping he'd close games for the Marlins. Kintzler went on to tie for fourth in the majors with 12 saves last year but opted to head to Philadelphia via free agency. 


Prior to this, Miami agreed to a two-year deal with Anthony Bass . Before you throw this fish back, he's recorded more saves (11) since the second half of 2019 through the end of last season than Matt Barns, Rafael Montero , Nick Anderson and Drew Pomeranz


Last year, Bass went 2-3 with seven saves for Toronto making 26 appearances over 25.2 innings. He owned a 21:9 K:BB in them with a 3.51 ERA, 4.09 SIERA and 1.01 WHIP. With a strikeout percentage of 21 and a nine percent walk rate, his numbers do not jump off the page but Kintzler notched 12 saves in 2020 with a 14:11 K:BB, 2.22 ERA, 5.10 SIERA and 1.32 WHIP. Advantage, Bass. 


One quality they share, the ability to generate ground balls. Bass registered a career best 62.9 ground ball rate in 2020 fueled by a spike in sinker usage, illustrated here:



Bass also turned in a career best line drive percentage allowed of 12.9 percent which may not be repeatable. League average sits at 25.7 percent but the reports of a "deadened” baseball in 2021 along with his new ballpark in Miami may defray some of the migration to the mean. He worked in Sahlen Field during home games last year, a Triple-A ballpark. When viewing his home runs and expected home runs in Miami, only three of the seven he allowed would do so in his new home. Good news. 


In order to assess Bass better, it's time to dive into his arsenal a bit deeper viewing his Statcast indicators by pitch: 


  • Sinker: 54 percent usage, .202 xBA, .245 xwOBA, 8.7 whiff percentage, 13.5 put away percent, 11.9 K%

  • Slider: 39 percent usage, .137 xBA, .194 xwOBA, 52.2 whiff percentage, 22 put away percent, 38.2 K%

  • Split-finger: 6.8 percent usage, .162 xBA, .172 xwOBA, 44.4 whiff percentage, 16.7 put away percent, 20 K%


Overall, Bass’ swing percentage along with his whiff rate remained in line with his 2019 results. He could even produce more swings and misses using more sliders and the split-finger fastball. In an effort to expand his sample size and transition to a different site's data, here's his numbers from the second half of 2019 through the end of last season: 


  • Bass 2H 2019-through-2020: 3 Wins, 11 Saves, 54 IP, 52:18 K:BB, 3.33 ERA, 3.71 SIERA, 0.93 WHIP, 24.8 K%, 8.6 BB%, 12.8 SwStr%


With this in mind, it's time to migrate to Brooks Baseball to dive deeper into his repertoire. It starts with his approach to hitters by handedness. During this time frame, Bass attacked hitters as such: 



When Bass gets ahead versus left-handed hitters he uses his split-finger for strikeouts while he prefers his slider against right-handed batters. Also, when Bass falls behind in counts, he prefers the sinker which can produce outs still recalling his ground ball rate over 60 percent last year. Using the information on Brooks, in 2020 Bass’ pitches finished with the following statistics:


  • Bass Sinker: 3.5 SwStr%, 63.8 GB%

  • Bass Slider: 22.7 SwStr%, 60 GB%

  • Bass Split-finger: 13.8 SwStr%, 50 GB%


Some may clamor for Bass to use the slider more, but he's content getting ground outs. Perhaps Bass aligns his thinking with Crash Davis from Bull Durham: 


  • “Don't try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.”


Before revealing his projection sets, Bass still needs to win the role in spring training against Yimi García . Sources indicate it's Bass’ job to lose. Bookmark his 3.71 SIERA from his last 54 innings along with his expected numbers according to Statcast from 2020: 


  • Expected ERA (xERA) - 2.24

  • Expected Batting Average Against (xBA) - .176

  • Expected Weighted On-Base Average (xwOBA) - .233


Bass needs to get ahead and stay ahead to deploy his slider and split-finger for strikeouts fueling save chances. If this happens, he can beat these projections: 



He's virtually a fantasy free space and makes for a terrific third closer with some upside if he carries over the gains displayed since the inception of the second half. If others leave Bass beneath the rocks, take the plunge and you may get the Marlin saves leader for 2021. 


Statistical Credits:

THE BAT courtesy of Derek Carty

ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen

ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborks