Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Jake Odorizzi May Be Staying In Minnesota, But That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing…

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The surprise wasn’t that Jake Odorizzi accepted the Twins’ qualifying offer, it was more that he was even given one. Would anyone really have thought he could top $17.8 million for 2020 on the open market? Granted it’s not that he didn’t produce in ’19, but was someone else going to be willing to pay for numbers that may not have been sustainable:

159.0 IP
15 Wins
3.51 ERA
1.21 WHIP
178 Strikeouts (10.08 K/9)
53 Walks (3.00 BB/9)
35.0% Groundball Rate
.302 BABIP

There are a few key notes from the numbers that can’t be ignored, so let’s take a look.

Strikeouts

The 10.08 K/9 was a career best, and that can be seen in his 12.7% SwStr%. It’s interesting that he saw a spike, because his pitch usage didn’t change much from 2018 when he posted a 10.2% SwStr% and 8.87 K/9.

Surprisingly it was Odorizzi getting more swings and misses on his sinker that generated the improvement, as his Whiff% jumped from 8.93% to 16.79% on the pitch. Is that really something we can expect to continue? That alone tells you that there’s a good chance he takes a step back closer to his career marks (8.60 K/9)

Home Runs

Despite the lack of groundballs, Odorizzi kept the ball in the ballpark last season but that hasn’t been the case for much of his career (HR/9):

  • 2016 – 1.39
  • 2017 – 1.88
  • 2018 – 1.10
  • 2019 – 0.91

Considering the groundball rate, a category he’s never been particularly strong in (33.1% career mark), it seems like a given that more balls start to fly over the fences.

Additional Thoughts

While it’s not like he was lucky, the fact that he was also hit routinely hard (42.3% Hard%) is yet another knock against him. He had posted ERAs of 4.14 and 4.49 the previous two seasons and we also can’t ignore the continued missed time (he’s never thrown more than 187.2 innings in a season, and in the past three years his most was 164.1).

Odorizzi was going to be viewed as a bad investment regardless of where he landed. The fact that Minnesota was the team that made the move is irrelevant, as he’s likely to regress significantly. Don’t pay for the numbers, as they likely aren’t indicative of what is to come.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I was looking for some information to confirm that Jake Odorizzi was prime for regression in 2020, and you provided tthe best analysis (by far) of anyone I could find. Can I sign up for more from you?

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