Searching For Saves: Is Wade Davis Destined To Disappoint In Colorado?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Rockies have been aggressive in their pursuit of bullpen pieces, ultimately replacing Greg Holland with Wade Davis.  Whenever a reliever is signed to such a big contract, 3 years and $52 million, there are going to be concerns but the Davis signing truly has the potential to be disastrous, and it could come as soon as 2018.

When you look at the numbers from last season you wouldn’t necessarily think that there’s an issue:

58.2 IP
4 Wins
32 Saves
2.30 ERA
1.14 WHIP
79 Strikeouts (12.12 K/9)
28 Walks (4.30 BB/9)
40.5% Groundball Rate
.262 BABIP

The first thing that’s going to jump out at you is the groundball rate, which led to a 0.92 HR/9.  That’s obviously not a crippling mark, but you put a lack of groundballs into Coors Field?  There’s the potential that home runs grow, and that was already a concern after posting a 1.57 HR/9 in the second half of ’17.

Davis also clearly benefited from a bit of luck, given his 21.4% line drive rate and .287 career BABIP.  More home runs + Less luck?  So far the formula doesn’t sound very promising.

Now you mix in some control issues, which have been pretty consistent over the past four halves of baseball:

  • First Half 2016 – 3.68
  • Second Half 2016 – 2.57
  • First Half 2017 – 3.60
  • Second Half 2017 – 5.02

It seems clear that the second half of ’16 was the aberration, and that just further hurts the outlook.  In fact it would appear that the only thing he has working for him is the strikeout rate…

Davis did post an impressive 15.4% SwStr% last season and there’s no questioning that he can carry an elevated strikeout rate.  Can he continue to be quite that good though?  He posted a 9.00 K/9 in July and 7.45 in August, after a 9.76 mark in 2016.  Any type of regression is going to be costly, considering the other skills concern that there are.

None of this means that he is an unusable option of that he is going to be a complete failure in 2018, but the trends are not promising:

  • Increased walks…
  • Decreased groundballs…
  • Decreased luck…
  • Potential for fewer strikeouts…

Now put that in Coors Field and what do you get?  A significant risk, and at 32-years old there’s a good chance that he stumbles before the contract expires.  Either way, while he’s ownable it’s quite possible the risk outweighs the reward even in the short-term.  Given the turnover at the position, be cautious in investing.

Source – Fangraphs

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections:

Date Published
Cano, Robinson10/09/17
Castillo, Luis10/03/17
Gerrit Cole10/30/17
Didi Gregorius11/20/17
Wil Myers10/24/17
Quintana, Jose11/13/17
Sanchez, Aaron12/05/17
Schoop, Jonathan11/27/17
Stroman, Marcus10/16/17
Walker, Taijuan 11/06/17

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