Friday, May 14, 2010

Zack Greinke has Lost Something

Yes, I am aware that Zack Greinke finally picked up his first win yesterday and good for him.  I'm actually all too aware of it since he was on Snake and my Fantasy Baseball team.  As you might imagine with that being the case, I've paid way too much attention to Greinke, including listening to radio broadcasts of Royals' games using the MLB app for my phone.  At I've noticed that he isn't nearly as good as he was last year.  Since someone was looking to acquire him in our league, I did a little more digging, and I found some interesting things.

No, I'm not judging him based on his paucity of wins this year - I do actually understand baseball.  And I know his basic numbers look pretty good; he has an ERA of  2.73 and a WHIP of 1.12.  There's nothing wrong with those numbers, even if they aren't as dominating as last year.  So dig deeper with me, won't you?

Let's start with a few basics.  First, his K/9 is 7.5.  Good, very good in fact, but a deep drop from the 9.5 he posted last year.  At the same time, his HR/9 allowed has nearly doubled from 0.43 to 0.85.  Again, good numbers, but substantially worse than last year.  Opponents are hitting .248 against him this year, up from .232 last season, while his BABIP is at .296, below his career number of .314 (he was at .313 last year), which suggests that the opponents average is only going to increase from here.

The home run increase can be attributed to giving up more fly balls (41% FB last year, 46% this year) and a higher proportion of those are flying out of the park (6.8% of his fly balls have gone out this year compared to 4.5% last year).

What's causing this?  I can see a couple of things, and the first is a drop in velocity on his fastball.  Last year he averaged 93.7mph, this year he's down to 92.2mph - not an alarming drop, but enough to make a difference.  And that difference has been enough to account for a huge difference in Greinke making batters miss.  Last year, batters made contact just 77% of the time they swung at a Greinke pitch - this year that number is 87%.  To put it in perspective, that 77% ranked him 17th in the majors.  This season, that 87% number ranks him 105th out of the 115 pitchers who qualify for the ERA title.

Finally, there is a stat called FIP, which stands for Fielding Independent Pitching, which takes in all pitcher stats and spits out a number that is a projection of what you would expect the pitcher's ERA to be in a generic park with an average defense behind him.  Last year, Greinke's FIP was 2.33.  This year, it's 3.45.

In conclusion, although Zack Greinke is still a very good pitcher, but so far this year he's been no more than very good - not anywhere near the dominant force he was last season.  Considering he was historically good last year and only managed to win 16 games, he's going to be lucky to hit 12 this year, which means that us trading him (along with Matt Kemp) for Jason Heyward, Ricky Nolasco, and Jimmy Rollins was definitely the right move.

Also I didn't start researching this to convince myself of that or anything, in case you're wondering.

By the way, prior to tonight A-Rod was 4-6 with 3 home runs against Matt Guerrier.  Can we all please remember this when a bunch of yo-yos start stumping for Gardy as manager of the year?  Please?


rghrbek said...

It's indefensible how Gardy melts down in the big spot light, against great teams.

You know it's bad when the New York press is bugging our press guys as soon as Guerrier was brought in....before he pitched to a-rod.

Dharma Bum said...

Oh, you mean the best pitcher in baseball last year doesn't have as good of numbers after 8 starts. Shocking. You're an idiot.

WWWWWW said...

No, I mean the best pitcher in baseball last year has lost a little of his fastball and is suddenly giving up more home runs and isn't missing bats the way he did last year.

Seems pretty clear.

Kate J said...

Thanks for pointing out Gardy's inadequacy in working key pitching match ups late in games. It is getting to be ridiculous.

Gardy had obviously had a few more cocktails than I did Friday evening, that much is clear. That can and should be his ONLY excuse in this situation.

When I saw Guerrier start trotting towards the mound, I got out my laptop and did a quick internet search. When I discovered his stats against A-Roid, I knew it was over before he threw the first pitch. I immediately got up and ran to the kitchen for more gin. I couldn't get the bottle to my lips fast enough.

I like Matt Guerrier, I'm probably one of the few that do, but yeah, what a terrible, terrible decision.

Granted, I was pretty drunk, but I don't remember Duensing pitching terribly. Buzzkill.