Why does this matter?
Well, for those that missed the BREAKING NEWS in the baseball community, this week it was announced, Britton would be going back to the proper spelling of his birth name in Zack, replacing the ‘H’ with a much more valued ‘K.’
— Zack Britton (@zbritton) February 7, 2019
Again. Why does this matter?
It doesn’t. Well, not really. Well, maybe. I mean, it’s kind of out-of-the-blue for Britton to make such a risky change, this close to the season. Usually, professional baseball players, and pitchers specifically, tend to be extremely superstitious. They rely on patterns and traditions in order to truly get the best versions of themselves over a full season. Britton’s name change now leaves us with some unverifiable questions.
Why exactly did Britton change his name? And more importantly, is there any fantasy impact?
There could be a few hypothetical reasons:
1) Britton changed his name for marketability purposes.
2) Britton changed his name because he sees most elite pitchers have some sort of K or Hard C in their name, and likewise, wanted to duplicate this practice through anthroponomastics (the study of names).
3) Britton changed his name because he wanted to give his name the shorthand for strikeouts (K) to help add extra strikeouts to his game.
Can we answer these hypotheticals?
1) Which, while most plausible and realistic, doesn’t seem the most likely. Also, it’s by far the most boring. Is Zack Britton boring? Well, I don’t know, but seriously why wait until this point in your career, at the brisk age of 31 to finally change your name for marketability purposes. I’m ruling the hypothetical Option Number 1 as doubtful.
2) A quick look at the top pitchers from last season will show that seven of the Top-10 Pitchers in War from the 2018 season had a K or hard C somewhere in their name.
The issue with this hypothetical is that Zack Britton’s name already had a Hard C in it to begin with. There’s the prospect of wondering if Britton wanted an actual K in his name for these purposes. But, I also will have to say Option Number 2 is doubtful.
3) This seems to be the most interesting one. Because, as stated above, pitchers are superstitious as hell. And who knows, maybe by Britton adding a strikeout K to his name, he really could get extra strikeouts in his performance.
For those that don’t remember, from 2014-2016 Zach Britton was actually a pretty elite closer. He gathered 5.6 fWar over those three seasons as a reliever for the Baltimore Orioles. But, since then, and with a flurry of IL (formerly DL) stints mixed in, Britton’s greatness has diminished to the point of a slightly above-average reliever. And his K/9 has dipped all the way down to the high 6.0’s to low 7.0’s the past couple of years.
Maybe Britton is thinking exactly what’s hypothesized, and by adding that extra K, he’ll get extra strikeouts in-game as well. This could be complete bias, but I feel like Option Number 3 is most likely.
Now. Is THIS fantasy relevant???
Maybe? If Britton’s experiment of adding a K to his name translates to let’s say, an extra strikeout (K) per inning, then he’ll be upping his K/9 of 7.52 from 2018 to a much better K/9 of 8.52 this upcoming season. That’s actually a nice bump in strikeouts. And fantasy wise, pretty good value for a reliever going undrafted in standard leagues. But, unfortunately, it still isn’t a big enough difference to make him the full-time closer and most elite arm in that Yankees’ bullpen.
What if he added 2 K’s to his name?
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now officially hypothetically looking at the even more improved: Zackk Britton. That’s right, in this scenario, if Britton removed the H and added two K’s to his name, he would officially be projected for a 9.52 K/9. Unfortunately, based on the average projections, Aroldis Chapman, current Yankees closer, is expected to get around a 14.5 K/9. So, 2 K’s would be a good start, but still not make Britton the Yankees closer.
Okay. How many K’s does it take to get to the top of the Yankees’ Bullpen?
In order for Britton to go above Chapman’s projected strikeout rate and beat last year’s as well, he would need to surpass a 16 K/9. In order to hit that mark, Britton would need to add a total of 9 K’s to his name. In effect, this would allow him to surpass Chapman’s K/9 of 16.31 from last year and give him the edge with an incredible 16.52 K/9.
Wrap it up nicely.
There we have it, Britton will officially be fantasy relevant if and when he adds 9 K’s to his name. Making it Zackkkkkkkkk Britton.
Can’t wait to see that Yankees jersey, right?!
We may never find out the true reasons for why Britton changed his name. But, if nothing else, Zack is a fine way of spelling. Look out though, because if he somehow changes it again, this time to Zack with 9 K’s…I probably still wouldn’t draft him, because Britton will almost assuredly be injured sometime before he even reaches his second batter. Anyways, good luck Mr. Britton. And hopefully, this new Zack works well for you.