Wild Prediction: Mat Latos’ Strikeout-to-Walk Rate

Over the past four seasons there have been only seven different pitchers who have posted a strikeout-to-walk rate of 5.00 or better: Josh Beckett (2008), Roy Halladay (2008, 2009, 2010), Dan Haren (2008, 2009), Cliff Lee (2008, 2010), Javier Vazquez (2009), CC Sabathia (2007) and James Shields (2007).

Clearly, the idea of having the skillset to pile up the strikeouts while limiting the walks is not something that is common, which makes this prediction all the more crazy:

Mat Latos will post a K/BB of 5.00 or better in 2011

What exactly makes me think that in his second full season in the Majors that Latos can join the seven other players who have achieved this feat over the past four years?  Let’s take a look at a few numbers first:

Walk Rate:

  • Minor Leagues – 2.29
  • 2010 – 2.44

Strikeout Rate:

  • Minor Leagues – 10.53
  • 2010 – 9.21

Over his minor league career his K/BB was at 4.60, right at the precipice of the elusive mark.  In his first full Major League season he was at 3.78, which actually placed him at eighth in the league.  He’ll be just 23-years old at the start of the ’11 campaign, so would it really be a stretch to see him improve his numbers across the board?

I know people are concerned about an injury thanks to his workload, but that’s something that is complete speculation.  No one knows exactly what a pitchers arm can and cannot hold up to.  We’ve been hearing this argument for years regarding Tim Lincecum and how has that worked out?

Some people are also concerned about his late season fade.  It’s a fair concern, but you have to remember that it was his first full season.  He was not prepared to pitch that deep into the season, but with experience comes improvement.  In 2011 he will know what to expect, and that goes a long way.

Of course, it wasn’t his September that hurt his K/BB rate (35 K vs. 8 BB), but it was a slow start on the strikeout front.  In April Latos posted 13 strikeouts vs. 6 walks over 20.1 innings.  After April his low month in regards to strikeouts was 29 in July.

Even if you don’t believe that he will make a significant improvement in his walk rate, I would not be surprised to see him eclipse a 10.0 K/9 given his age, minor league track record and now having a full year under his belt.  That alone will give him a shot to reach this prediction.  When we are looking for possibilities like this, opportunity is half the battle.

Chance of Happening: 5%

What are your thoughts on this prediction?  Is there any chance Latos reaches this mark?  Why or why not?

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Make sure to check out our previous Wild Predictions:

One comment

  1. Sawyer says:

    I have Latos, LaPorta, and Brett Anderson so I’m loving the wild predictions for this year!!!

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