Wild Prediction: Jonathan Niese’s WHIP

When you look at his numbers on the surface you may not see much to impress you from Jonathan Niese.  He has a career ERA of 4.39 and a career WHIP of 1.49.

What exactly is there to like?

Well, by diving a little bit deeper into the numbers you see that there actually is a lot more to Niese then just those struggles.  That leads to this prediction:

Jonathan Niese will post a WHIP of under 1.22

When you look at his underlying statistics, this actually isn’t THAT big of a stretch.  First of all, his walk rate over the past two seasons have actually been incredibly respectable:

  • 2009 – 3.16
  • 2010 – 3.21

Considering his minor league mark of 3.10, there’s nothing unbelievable with the number and there is no reason that if he can’t replicate it in 2011.  Even while struggling with injuries, he has still managed to continuously find the strike zone.

Where he struggled was in his BABIP, which was at .324 last season.  That’s a pretty unlucky number, which you have to think is going to right itself in ’11.  So, what type of BABIP does he need in order to reach a WIHP of 1.22?

Before we answer that we need to make a few more assumptions:

  1. Strikeouts – In 2010 he posted a K/9 of 7.67.  Over his minor league career he was at 8.16.  Given his age (24-years old), it wouldn’t be surprising to see him maturing, learning and gaining some strikeout ability.  I wouldn’t expect a huge upgrade, however, so let’s assume that he tops out at around 7.75 in ’11.
  2. Home Runs – He pitches in Citi Field and has generated a groundball rate of around 48% the past two years.  That would mean he doesn’t give up many home runs, right?  Well, he posted a HR/9 of 1.04 in ’10.  I have to believe that marks reduces, at least a little bit, so for this calculation let’s put him at 0.85.

If his BABIP was a very believable .303, he would post a WHIP of 1.29.

Of course, making that prediction would’ve been believable.  To get to 1.21, he’s going to need to be at .281.

It may be a stretch, but is it really impossible?  What happens if he improves his walk rate?  What happens if he improves on his strikeout rate?  This may not be likely, since a lot can go wrong, but it also isn’t impossible, either.

Chance of Happening: 15%

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

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Make sure to check out our previous Wild Predictions:

One comment

  1. Herb Urban says:

    I can see him posting a 3.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP, or better, with a reasonable BABIP. He’s a great potential late round steal.

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