The Optimist / Pessimist Guide to the 2013 Season: PitchersYesterday, we ran through the position players with one number to expect something more from a player and another to expect less. As mentioned, the goal was not to conclusively prove one position or another. Rather, it is merely a crib sheet of a simple number or two to remember as you continue a conversation while reaching for a third beer.
This is the second of two articles. This one will focus on the position players.
Jason Hammel (ZIPS; 8.0 K/9; 3.0 BB/9; 3.59 FIP; 2.5 fWAR)
Optimist: 2. Two seams have been a game changer. His sinking fastball has made him into a strike out and ground ball machine. An ace quality year is not out of the picture.
Pessimist: 118 IP. It probably is just a coincidence, but he added on a new pitch, changed his delivery slightly, and then wound up having a knee problem and able to only throw 118 IP.
Wei-Yin Chen (ZIPS; 4.9 K/9; 1.9 B/9; 4.44 FIP; 1.3 fWAR)
Optimist: 7.2 K/9. ZIPS is not using his numbers in Japan well. Chen struck out a lot of batters and improve as he gets used to the long season in the States.
Pessimist: 37.1% GB. Camden Yards is kind to home runs and Chen leaves a lot of balls in the air. He likely won’t get any worse with them than last year, but there really is not a lot of ways he can improve.
Miguel Gonzalez (ZIPS; 6.6 k/9; 3.6 BB/9; 4.59 FIP; 0.3 fWAR)
Optimist: 2012. Miguel Gonzalez was found in Mexico as a new pitcher. Nothing he does is done especially well, but he has excellent command and control.
Pessimist: 82.6% runners left on base. Gonzalez pitched himself out of many a tight spot. Pitchers tend not to continually leave so many runners on base, so that number should regress to the mean and more baserunners will score.
Jake Arrieta (ZIPS; 7.1 K/9; 4.2 BB/9; 4.81 FIP; 0.5 fWAR)
Optimist: 4.05 FIP. Jake was not as bad as his 6.20 ERA made him out to be. For most pitchers, a single season of FIP is far more predictive for future performance than ERA.
Pessimist: 6.20 ERA. Read this article. The article was originally here on BSL, but no longer appears to be in the directory.
Chris Tillman (ZIPS; 6.9 K/9; 3.0 BB/9; 4.44 FIP; 1.3 fWAR)
Optimist: 92.4 mph. Tillman’s fastball is back. He saw a bump in his average fastball velocity of about 3 mph from his struggles of the past two year. For a righty with his command, he desperately needs those 3 mph. In fact, they can make him a mid to front end starter.
Pessimist: -0.2 mph. On average, that is how much Tillman’s velocity decreased with each start. If you remember, he was blazing an average of 95 mph in his first start last year. He ended at 92.4 mph.
T.J. McFarland (ZIPS; 4.4 K/9; 3.9 BB/9; 5.19 FIP; 0.1 fWAR)
Optimist: 8.8 K/9 against AAA lefties. McFarland was the International League version of Joe Saunders. He simply killed lefties when they came up to bat.
Pessimist: 1.87 FIP. His FIP against right handers was 1.87 higher than against left handers. McFarland simply will not be able to face MLB quality right handed hitters.
Brian Matusz (ZIPS; 6.7 K/9; 3.8 BB/9; 4.97 FIP; -0.1 fWAR)
Optimist: 1.89 FIP. When Matusz came back in the second half of the year, he returned as a reliever and he was simply lights out. He saw a slight bump in velocity and was able to face a higher percentage of left handed batters.
Pessimist: .167 BABIP. As a reliever, hitters could not put their ball in play in any meaningful way. However, a .167 BABIP is not something you see from any pitcher over any significant period of time. We should expect that to regress to the mean.
Troy Patton (ZIPS; 8.2 K/9; 2.3 BB/9; 3.51 FIP; 0.5 fWAR)
Optimist: 50.3% GB rate. Restrict Patton to a couple innings and shield him from right handed batters a little bit and you have a solid ground ball inducing, strikeout machine. He may not do what he did last year, but he probably won’t be too far off.
Pessimist: 84.6% LOB. Again, it is difficult for a pitcher to leave such a high number of base runners on base. That number should fall about 10% and add about a run or so onto his ERA.
Darren O’Day (ZIPS; 8.8 K/9; 2.2 BB/9; 3.69 FIP; 0.4 fWAR)
Optimist: 80.8% career left on base. An 80+% for left on base is rare. However, O’Day consistently produces at that left and holds the highest LOB% over the past five years (at least 240 IP).
Pessimist: -.029 wOBA. Lefties hit off him better than righties. However, that is pretty light criticism. A .294 wOBA is Jeff Franceour.
Tommy Hunter (ZIPS; 5.1 K/9; 2.1 BB/9; 5.12 FIP; -0.3 fWAR)
Optimist: 96 mph. Shifted off of the starting rotation, Hunter found the velocity he has been missing since he was an amateur. The 5+ bump looks real and is devastating. A rare case where as a reliever, he has far more value
Pessimist: 12.2 IP. So he found his velocity in 12.2 IP with a deep expanded roster bullpen. How well will he keep that velocity when asked on several occasions to pitch back-to-back nights?
Pedro Strop (ZIPS: 8.2 K/9; 4.8 BB/9; 4.03 FIP; 0.2 fWAR)
Optimist: 64.3% GB. Yeah, so he walks guys. His ability to induce groundballs helps mitigate his wildness. He also was hitting his mark well in the World Baseball Classic for the tourney winners, Dominican Republic.
Pessimist: 3.9 P/PA. That is not a bad number. It is only slightly high, but he is a pitcher that is depended on a great deal. He may be more susceptible to injury with his high effort mechanics and his tendency to slightly run up his pitch count.
Luis Ayala (ZIPS; 6.1 K/9; 2.3 BB/9; 4.11 FIP; 0.1 fWAR)
Optimist: 17.4% of his pitches are cut fastballs. Ayala turned himself into a new kind of pitcher with the Yankees when he begin throwing a cut fastball.
Pessimist: 44% of inherited baserunners scored in 2012. Although only 80% of his baserunners scored last year, Ayala showed a horrible ability to prevent people already on base from scoring.
Jim Johnson (ZIPS; 5.8 K/9; 2.3 BB/9; 3.87 FIP; 0.3 fWAR)
Optimist: 59% of his pitches for two seamers. Johnson has become a relatively unimpressively dominant reliever once he committed to the two seamer. He induces >60% grounders because of it and it makes up for his low strikeout rates.
Pessimist: 2.Two closers since 1993 has been effective (> 40 saves) with a strikeout rate lower than Jim Johnson’s (5.4 K/9): Jose Mesa (2004, Pittsburgh; 4.8 K/9) and Danny Graves (2004; Cincinnati; 5.3 K/9). How does that sound?
Anyway…have fun, enjoy the game, be responsible.