by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Entering the season with playoff aspirations, 2018 was a huge disappointment for the San Francisco Giants. It has led to changes at the top, and there certainly will be a trickle down effect to the talent on the field. One of the few things we know, though, is that many will view Dereck Rodriguez (the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez) as a key piece to the team’s future. That makes sense, given these numbers as a rookie:
89 Strikeouts (6.77 K/9)
36 Walks (2.74 BB/9)
39.5% Groundball Rate
Something we’ve all learned is that sometimes numbers can be deceiving, and while it was a strong year on the surface when you start peeling back the layers the concerns mount quickly. While that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll fall off a cliff, that’s a scenario that we can’t rule out so easily.
Obviously the strikeout rate was pedestrian, at best, as he struggled to get opponents to swing and miss (8.6% SwStr%) and chase outside the strike zone (30.3% O-Swing%). There also wasn’t one pitch that he showed any type of swing and miss upside with, despite owning a five-pitch arsenal (Whiff%):
- Fourseam Fastball – 10.72%
- Sinker – 5.63%
- Changeup – 13.03%
- Slider – 9.39%
- Curveball – 9.71%
Throw in a 7.8 K/9 over his minor league career (427.1 IP) and there really any reason to believe that there’s significant upside?
He was solid with his walk rate, something he had shown throughout the minors (2.4 BB/9). It’s a solid number and should allow him to maintain at least a decent WHIP… At least that’s something we can hope for. The truth is that while his control was solid, he benefited from a lot of luck considering his .257 BABIP and 39.4% Hard%. Something is ultimately going to give, and when it does good (but not elite) control isn’t going to be enough to offset it.
Rodriguez does have a favorable home ballpark, and that’s going to allow him to get away with a less than stellar groundball rate. That said, can he really maintain a 0.68 HR/9? He owned a 0.9 HR/9 coming up through the minors and was surprisingly worse at home than on the road in ’18:
- Home – 0.73 HR/9
- Road – 0.61 HR/9
Again, sooner or later something is going to give.
It was a solid rookie season for Rodriguez, but what are we exactly hanging our hats on if we expect him to be able to come close to replicating his 2018 numbers? Just look at the facts:
- He doesn’t have strikeout upside…
- He has solid, but not elite, control…
- He was extremely lucky, considering how hard he was hit…
- He will likely give up significantly more home runs…
If there was an ideal sell high candidate in the offseason, Dereck Rodriguez may be it.
Sources – ESPN, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections: