It feels like Derek Holland has long been a pitcher that we have been waiting to see realize his full potential. While he may not have completely gotten there in 2011, he showed signs of exactly what could be possible:
162 Strikeouts (7.36 K/9)
67 Walks (3.05 BB/9)
There was virtually no luck involved in his performance, either good or bad. His BABIP is believable, as was his strand rate (72.8%). So, with no movement in those numbers projected, unless you think he’s going to have positive luck in 2012, the question is if his actual skills will improve.
As a 25-year old left-hander with his first full Major League season under his belt, it’s impossible to say that it can’t happen.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is his strikeout and walk rates. Over his minor league career he posted better numbers, with a 9.46 K/9 and 2.57 BB/9. Of course, the majority of those numbers did come at the lower levels. In 66.2 innings at Triple-A he posted a 7.56 K/9 and 2.83 BB/9. In other words, the ratios are right along the lines of what he did in ’11.
Does that mean we should take those numbers as gospel? Absolutely not. In the second half of the season (88.1 IP) he improved his strikeout rate to 8.14 and his walk rate to 2.66.
In other words, it’s very possible to see him take a step up over the entire 2012 campaign, potentially striking out nearly a batter per inning while showing very good control. So far, we have to like what we’re hearing.
The one other concern that we should have when it comes to Holland is pitching at home in Arlington. Looking at these splits should not be a major surprise.
- Home – 4.69 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (86.1 IP)
- Road – 3.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP (111.2 IP)
There was significantly worse luck at play at home, with a .342 BABIP vs. a .274 mark on the road. He also had worse control at home (3.54 BB/9 vs. 2.66 on the road), though that’s not a number that I would read too much into.
I would be concerned if he gave up significantly more home runs at home, but that actually wasn’t the case. He posted a 0.94 HR/9 in Arlington while he was at 1.05 on the road. In other words, the split may have been a bit of an anomaly.
So, we have a pitcher who should be able to improve in his home ballpark while improving his strikeout and walk rates. Throw in the fact that he did a good job improving his groundball rate to 46.4% (though we would like to see an improvement in his 20.0% line drive rate) and there is an awful lot to like.
He has the potential to mature into a must use fantasy option, even pitching in the AL (remember, the AL West does have the A’s & Mariners in it, giving him an advantage). He shouldn’t be a highly sought after pitcher on draft day, making him all the more alluring. In the late rounds he is a great buy, especially with his potential to pile up the strikeouts. I’d make sure to have him on your radar to fill out your fantasy rotation.
Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings: