by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We kept waiting for the other shoe to drop for Alex Wood in 2017, though it never truly came… Or did it? Just look at these numbers over the final three months of the season:
Keep in mind that in the first half, when he posted a 1.67 ERA, he owned an impressive 10.82 K/9 and 63.5% groundball rate. Both of those numbers regressed significantly after the All-Star Break, with a 6.78 K/9 and 44.2% groundball rate (leading to a 1.63 HR/9). So where does the truth actually lie?
You have to wonder what type of a role fatigue played in his regression. His sinker velocity dropped as the season wore on:
- First Three Months – 92.99 mph
- Final Three Months – 91.34 mph
The SwStr% went from 13.6% in the first half to 9.7% in the second half, and the velocity drop had to have played a role. The Whiff% on both his changeup (15.09% and 14.29%) and curveball (17.50% and 16.16%) were down over the final two months, which does coincide. Considering he was using his changeup more than ever before (25.53%), the velocity drop looms even larger. Assuming he can get the velocity back up, the potential is there to recover at least part of the strikeout rate.
Could that drop in velocity also have played a role in his groundball rate? It’s quite possible, though seeing him maintain the first half mark (63.5%) seems unlikely anyways. That said he shouldn’t be plagued by an 18.1% HR/FB (second half of ’17) and he’s generally been a solid groundball producer (49.7%).
The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, and his overall 53.0% groundball rate is a fair expectation. That should play well in Dodger Stadium, as he should be allowing at or below 1.00 HR/9.
Wood owns a 2.61 career BB/9, so that has never been a concern. Is he going to maintain the elite mark from last season (2.25 BB/9)? Maybe not, but he should continue to be above average here.
Wood looked like he was going to be a Top 10-15 option in the first half, though it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he struggled down the stretch (as it is, his overall luck metrics of .267 BABIP and 80.1% strand rate aided the solid numbers overall). The truth lies somewhere in the middle, and playing for LA he’s going to be a solid option for the middle of a fantasy rotation. The fear is that someone is going to be willing to pay a premium for the unsustainable first half numbers. He’s good, but not great, so don’t make the mistake of overpaying.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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