2012 Projection: Will Chad Billingsley Finally Take The Next Step?

Chad Billingsley has been fairly high on fantasy owners wish lists ever since he delivered 16 victories in 2008 to go along with a 3.14 ERA and 201 K.  How has he rewarded owners over the previous three seasons?  He’s seen his strikeouts consistently decline, he hasn’t won more than 12 games and he’s posted two seasons with ERAs north of 4.00.

Unfortunately, his 2011 campaign was the most disappointing of the bunch:

11 Wins
188.0 Innings
4.21 ERA
1.45 WHIP
152 Strikeouts (7.28 K/9)
84 Walks (4.02 BB/9)
.306 BABIP

There was a little bit of poor luck at play, given a 69.9% strand rate, but that number isn’t really far off of the 71.0% marks he posted in both 2009 and 2010.  He also allowed a career worst 20.9% line drive rate, but its close enough to his 19.2% career mark that it’s not really opening anybody’s eyes.  His average fastball?  It was at 91.5 mph, right at his career mark of 91.6 mph.

So, exactly where is the problem?

The wheels basically fell off in the second half, as you can see from his splits:

  • First Half – 3.87 ERA, 100 K over 116.1 IP
  • Second Half – 4.77 ERA, 52 K over 71.2 IP

Over the final two months of the season he posted K/9 marks of 5.52 and 5.96.  His control also waned, with BB/9 of 4.06 and 5.56.  Outside of one lucky month (a 79.3% strand rate in May), his strand rate was below 70% in every month of the season.

In other words, while he hasn’t lived up to what he did a few years ago, the 2011 numbers do not really tell the entire story and there is reason for optimism.

However, that doesn’t mean that he is going to be a tremendous option either.  Billingsley has never been a good source of WHIP.  While he’s not as bad as last season’s mark, only once has he posted a mark below 1.32.  Even in his best season he posted a 1.34 WHIP.

Part of the problem is his control, which is never going to be elite.  Over his career he has a 3.92 BB/9 and only once has he posted a mark below 3.59 (he was at 3.24 in 2010).  It’s just impossible for him to post a big time WHIP with that type of walk rate.

While his strikeout numbers have been consistently falling, as I said his 2011 mark is tainted by a poor finish to the season.  In 2009 & 2010 he posted strikeout rates of 8.21 and 8.03, and it’s fair to think he’ll get back into that rate.

We all know not to count on wins from year to year.  Just because he has won 11 or 12 the past few seasons doesn’t mean he’s not going to have more run support in 2012.  While you don’t want to count on it, would it shock anyone if he won 14 or 15 games?

When all is said and done, here is my projection for 2012:

195.0 IP, 12 W, 3.69 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 175 K (8.08 K/9), 81 BB (3.74 BB/9)

They are solid, yet unspectacular, numbers that are very realistic if he can avoid the late season collapse he endured in 2011.  The potentially high WHIP keeps him as more of a backend fantasy pitcher and nothing more, so keep that in mind before you select on him draft day.  There is potential, but his name value will likely cause him to go significantly higher than his numbers justify.

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Make sure to check out our other 2012 projections:


One comment

  1. Milo says:

    I can’t figure Billingsley out…His stuff can be great at times and I thought 2-3 years ago(as probably many others) he was going to be a fantasy staff ace or very strong #2. With that said, your 2012 projection looks solid to me.

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