2012 Projection: Will Doug Fister Continue To Excel In Detroit?

Prior to the trade that sent him to Detroitat last year’s trade deadline Doug Fister had spent the first two plus years of his career in the obscurity of Seattle.  That’s what happens when you win just 12 games over 60 appearances (59 starts).  That’s not to say that he didn’t show any talent, but it was hidden behind the troubles of the team he played for.

At the same time, does anyone truly believe the numbers he posted last season while in Detroit:

8 Wins
70.1 Innings
1.79 ERA
0.84 WHIP
57 Strikeouts (7.29 K/9)
5 Walks (0.64 BB/9)
.245 BABIP

It was an eye opening performance, though there were certainly numbers that can easily be dispelled.  The BABIP?  It was an extremely lucky number that is unlikely to be repeated.  That’s not to say that he’s going to regress to a .320 BABIP, given his career .284 mark, but he is going to regress.  In other words, the ERA is going to rise.

The control is another number that should be good, but it’s just not going to be that good.  Since reaching the Major Leagues he has shown elite control, with a career BB/9 of 1.69 (and a minor league mark of 2.14).  You couple that ability with a solid ground ball rate (over 47% each of the past two years) and keeping the ball in the ballpark (only 24 HR allowed over the past two seasons) and you get the makings of a pitcher with a ton of upside.

It’s not like he has moved from a pitcher’s park to a hitter’s park, asComericaPark is no hitter’s paradise.  While he made just six starts there in 2011 he did go 4-1 with a 1.61 ERA over 44.2 IP.  Even if we don’t anticipate him maintaining that mark, it is clear that he is comfortable there.

Of course, if he could maintain the strikeout rate he showed inDetroitwe would be ecstatic, though it is hard to imagine.  Over his minor league career he posted a 6.64 K/9 and just look at his rates while pitching for the Mariners:

  • 2009 – 5.31
  • 2010 – 4.89
  • 2011 – 5.49

While I would agree that he’s likely better than those numbers, it is also hard to believe that he suddenly has transformed himself into a pitcher who can maintain a K/9 better than seven.  I would go into the season anticipating a mark in the 6.0 range, with anything extra being an added bonus.

The one thing that is crystal clear is that, while you can’t depend on wins from any pitcher, Fister will have a much better opportunity to win games with the Tigers.  That’s what happens when you have an offense buoyed by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder backing you up.  Is he going to win 8 out of 11 appearances again?  Not likely, but the days of seeing him fail to reach double-digit victories is likely behind us.

When you put everything together you get the following projection for 2012 (his first full season inDetroit):

210.0 IP, 14 W, 3.69 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 137 K (5.87 K/9), 45 BB (1.93 BB/9)

The potential lack of strikeouts is going to suppress his value, but there is nothing not to like about the rest of his numbers.  He has the ability to really support your WHIP and should also bring a solid ERA and wins potential to the table.  He is definitely worth owning as a backend starting pitcher in all formats, just make sure that you have plenty of strikeouts elsewhere on your roster as that is the one potential hole in his game.

What are your thoughts of Fister?  Is he a player that you would target in 2012?  Why or why not?

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Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:


  1. Milo says:

    Mark Buerhle comes to mind.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I think he’s a little bit better than that, but it’s a fair comparison. The fact is that he’s not a pitcher people should be going crazy to own.

      • jmax says:

        I can’t agree more when it comes to Fister. Even as a projected 2-3 man in the rotation he’ll likely slip further than a guy w his potential should.
        Even outside of Miggy and Prince, there is some real talent in that lineup. Maybe Raburn finally breaks out. Sure they lost V-Mart but they’ll still be better offensively this yr.

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