Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Why Zach Davies Isn’t A Pitcher To Target In 2017

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Zach Davies isn’t a new name, as he’s been on radars as he worked his way up through the Baltimore Orioles’ system.  Now in Milwaukee, he delivered a strong year in what was his first extended look in the Majors:

163.1 IP
11 Win
3.97 ERA
1.25 WHIP
135 Strikeouts (7.44 K/9)
38 Walks (2.09 BB/9)
45.5% Groundball Rate
.302 BABIP

Now the question is if the numbers are “real” and if there is any reason to care about him?  One look at the strikeout rate gives us an easy answer, especially after he posted a 7.8 K/9 coming up through the minors.  Throw in his below average 8.4% SwStr% (the league average was 10.1%) and there’s little reason to think that anything is going to change.  It certainly limits his appeal, though it doesn’t necessarily eliminate it…

It’s obvious that his control is his calling card, though he posted a modest 2.9 BB/9 coming up through the minors (and 3.1 over 137.1 Triple-A innings).  In other words it’s easy to call that mark into question, as does the split that he showed last season:

  • First Half – 2.52
  • Second Half – 1.62

A regression there, which seems inevitable, further limits his appeal.  Then you add in a 22.0% line drive rate, which was relatively consistent all season (21.3%/22.8%), and there’s also reason to believe that his BABIP and strand rate (72.0%) could potentially regress as well.  In other words, the package isn’t very promising.

He’s also not an elite groundball pitcher who calls a hitter’s park home, so the risk of more home runs (he had a 1.10 HR/9 last season) looms.  Prior to the 2015 Prospect 361 described Davies by saying:

“When you watch a lot of minor league games, you see pitchers with Zach Davies profile all the time – undersized, average stuff, but really knows how to pitch. It’s the last element that people forget about as we all fall in love with velocity and spin. However, Davies cuts through lineups by setting batters up with his ability to spot his fastball and then gets a strikeout with his change-up or curve ball.”

Sure that led to initial success, but can he sustain it?  It doesn’t seem likely, and he’s hardly a pitcher that warrants our attention in 2017.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball, Prospect 361

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Standard League
OBP League
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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