Fan Projection Targets: New Strikeout Wizards

As I stated in my piece on Craig Kimbrel earlier this week, I’m a big fan of high-strikeout pitchers. Much like Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, John Axford, and Chris Sale burst onto the Major League scene as strikeout wizards last season.

Kenley Jansen struck out 41 and walked 15 in 25 relief innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He posted a 1.82 FIP, but that was largely based on the fact that he didn’t allow a single home run. High walk rates and high strikeout rates are nothing new for Jansen. In his three minor league stints, he struck out at least 14 per nine innings, and in two of them he walked at least five hitters per nine innings. The question isn’t so much if he can continue to strike batters out as much as if he can weather the inevitable home runs he will allow, particularly if his 34% ground ball rate continues.

John Axford led all NL rookies in saves last year as he took over for the corpse of Trevor Hoffman. He struck out 76 batters in 58 innings at the Major League level, which doesn’t put him at Carlos Marmol levels but does rank 11th among all pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched. Strikeouts were never a problem for Axford in either the Yankees system or with the Brewers; in every stint in which he wasn’t used as a starter, Axford struck out at least 10 batters per nine innings. Whereas with Jansen the issues were with the home run, Axford will have to avoid the walk to remain successful in 2011: he walked at least 5 batters per nine innings in all but one stint (only 4 appearances) in the minor leagues.

Chris Sale has all of 32.1 professional innings to his name, with 23.1 of them coming at the MLB level with the Chicago White Sox last season. Sale struck out 32 batters in those 23.1 innings to go along with 19 in his 10.1 minor league innings. Sale posted a 2.74 FIP, but unlike the other pitchers on this list he has so little experience that he’s still a big mystery. Further, the possibility remains that Sale will move from the bullpen to the starting rotation, which will probably put a damper on those big strikeout numbers.

What do you think? Click here to enter your projections for Kenley Jansen, John Axford, and Chris Sale.



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Or
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Or
5 years 6 months ago

John Axford led all rookies in saves? You may have forgotten about a guy named Neftali who set a new rookie save record last year.

John
Guest
John
5 years 6 months ago

LOL

Jimbo
Guest
Jimbo
5 years 6 months ago

Do you remember that Jansen was the guy who gunned down Willie Taveras trying to steal third from his knees for the Netherlands in the WBC? Considering that he has only been pitching for two years, don’t you think his walk rate will decrease by getting more experienced?

Ivdown
Member
Ivdown
5 years 6 months ago

Jansen has been a full-time pitcher since I believe June or July of 2009…that is mind blowing to me.

Locke
Guest
Locke
5 years 6 months ago

From the title I would’ve bet my left testicle that Aroldis would’ve on the list to project. Maybe he doesn’t throw hard enough.

fenwik
Member
fenwik
5 years 6 months ago

The article is about players who were rookies last year and played a full season. I’m guessing since Chapman only pitched 13.1 innings, he is still a rookie.

Projecting a rookie a little different than projecting a guy who we’ve seen for (more or less) a full season?

Table
Guest
Table
5 years 6 months ago

Jansen did not play a full season at MLB if that’s what you mean.

Padman Jones
Member
5 years 6 months ago

I’d have bet the right on a mention of Axford’s mustache – especially in an article by a Brewers fan.

Locke
Guest
Locke
5 years 6 months ago

Not to mention, is Sale even going to pitch in the Bigs next year? I figured since they’d be crazy not to make him a starter, he’ll at least spend a few months, and if they sox aren’t contending, the whole year on the farm.

Nate
Guest
Nate
5 years 6 months ago

Jordan Walden?

Small sample size for sure, but 23 Ks in 15 IP is still pretty damn good.

13 K/IP would be a godsend stretched over a season. Good riddance Fernando Rodney.

Terence McDonagh
Guest
Terence McDonagh
5 years 6 months ago

Maybe the normal HR/FB rules don’t apply to guys who throw gas the way that Kimbrel, Marmol and Jansen do. Looking at their 2010 numbers:

Jansen gave up 0 HR in 73 combined innings.
Marmol 1 HR in 77.2 innings and 2 home runs in 74 innings in 2009
Kimbrel 3 HR in 76.1 combined innings

All this despite the fact that all three are extreme flyball pitchers. Maybe a lot of these “fly balls” are more like “outfield popups.” If you’re striking out 14 batters per nine and walking 5 or 6, barely anyone is making contact in the first place.

Socrates
Guest
Socrates
5 years 6 months ago

Matt Moore may be putting them all to shame in the TB system. No major league experience yet, and he is actually a starter. 208 SO in 144 innings last year. He has a 12.9 career SO/9 rate, all as a starter and his walks have been high but he has limited them at a couple of stops. Add it that he is extremely difficult to hit.

MintyRoadkill
Guest
MintyRoadkill
5 years 6 months ago

Most top prospects have huge K rates in the minors.

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