We have all seen pitchers suffer from whiplash, consistently turning to watch ball after ball sore over the fence. The question is, is that a problem that is going to plague them once again or is there hope of overcoming it and righting the ship in 2010? Let’s take a look at the pitchers with the 10 worst home run/flyball rates in 2009 to see:
1) Braden Looper – 15.8%
The player with the worst HR/FB in the league last season, does anyone really care? While it is a fairly sizable jump (he had an 11.7% mark in 2008), he’s a fantasy non-factor as a starting pitcher no matter what.
2) Rick Porcello – 14.1%
There were some definite growing pains for the 20-year old rookie, having allowed 23 HR last season. It was pretty steady across the board as well, like 11 HR allowed at home vs. 12 on the road and 13 allowed prior to the All-Star Break vs. 10 afterwards. As a pitcher who posted a Top Five groundball rate, however, I would definitely expect this to improve with more experience. Now, his strikeout rate is another issue, but that’s a story for another day. He threw 77.1% (second to only Mike Pelfrey) of his pitches as fastballs, which likely played a role. Like I said, more experience should yield better results.
3) Trevor Cahill – 13.2%
For his minor league career (245.7 innings) he posted a flyball rate of just 25.7% and allowed eight home runs. In his first Major League season he saw 27 balls fly over the fence despite keeping his flyball rate relatively low (34.1%). Seeing 20 of those home runs coming at home, in a park that is more conducive for pitchers, may be the most telling number to point to. Look for the number of home runs he allows to decrease, potentially dramatically, for the upcoming season. With it will go his ERA, giving him some pretty good upside for 2010. We’ll take a closer look at him across the board in the coming weeks.
4) Joe Blanton – 13.0%
Much like Braden Looper I have to ask, who cares? He’s a mediocre pitcher, which is a polite way of saying that he is not worth owning in any format. While it’s possible he improves on the number of home runs he allowed, it’s no guarantee in Citizen’s Bank Ballpark. Then again, 14 of the 30 HR he allowed last season came on the road. The plain fact is that he isn’t very good.
5t) Joe Saunders – 12.8%
After marks of 8.6%, 8.8% and 8.7% the previous three seasons, his 2009 performance sticks out like a sore thumb. I’d expect him to improve on that performance and get back to the days where he is allowing less than a home run per nine innings.
5t) Josh Beckett – 12.8%
He’s had worse seasons (15.4% in 2006), as well as many better ones. He could go either way, but more times then not his year’s have been better than what he did in 2009. Look for an improvement there, at least a modest one.
5t) Ricky Romero – 12.8%
Over his minor league career he posted a HR/9 of 0.75, so seeing it jump to 0.91 in the Major Leagues is not very unrealistic. The problem, however, is that the latter came courtesy of a 26.6% flyball rate, better than his career minor league mark of 33.1%. The signs could potentially lead to a bigger regression than we saw in the second half, but we’ll need to delve much deeper into it in the near future. At first glance, however, he’s looking like a pitcher I wouldn’t want to touch.
8 ) Yovani Gallardo – 12.3%
After missing the majority of the 2008 campaign, seeing him struggle with the long ball a bit shouldn’t be a huge surprise. He improved dramatically in the second half, allowing just seven home runs over 71.0 innings (after allowing 14 home runs over 114.2 innings in the first half). Look for a dramatic improvement in 2010.
9) Bronson Arroyo – 11.9%
Unless he gets traded, don’t look for a drastic improvement. Over the last two seasons’ he has allowed 60 HR. He’s a notorious hot and cold pitcher, which clearly makes him a low-end option because his overall ERA is likely to be sub par.
10 )Jorge de la Rosa – 11.8%
This is a pitcher that needs a full article look at him to really determine what he’s capable of. Still, from a HR/FB perspective, this appears to be what we are going to get from him. Over his career (589.0 innings), he has a career mark of 11.0%. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. Not by a long shot.
What are your thoughts on these pitchers? Who could see the biggest improvement?
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