Friday marks the month anniversary of the Los Angeles Dodgers re-signing Ted Lilly for three years and $33 million. If Lilly wants to throw a grandiose party to celebrate his good fortune in life he now can do so while splitting the costs with the Dodgers’ newest rotation member who will also make eight figures annually. Describing Hiroki Kuroda as “new” to the Dodgers is ungenuine. Kuroda has 82 starts with the franchise, thus encompassing his entire North American league career. His reward for good performance is reportedly worth $12 million and is legally binding for the 2011 season only.
The agreement takes the early lead for the fairest deal signed this offseason. Kuroda is relatively new to Major League Baseball but turns 36-years-old in early February. He has never topped 200 innings in America, although he came close last season (196.1), and missed time in 2009 with shoulder tendinitis. Pitchers are volatile beings in health and performance alike. Whereas the Dodgers did not hesitate (or maybe they did, but eventually folded) to hand Lilly a lengthier re-up deal, they showed some caution in doing the same with Kuroda. Maybe it comes down to in-house medical records, where Lilly’s checked out while Kuroda’s lacked the smiley face stamp.
The Dodgers were only conservative with years and did not scrimp with dollars. Kuroda has 10 WAR in his three seasons, with a breakdown as such: 3.6, 2.2, and 4.2 last season. A 5-3-2 weighing of those seasons produces an estimated 3.5 WAR for Kuroda next season. Knock some off for aging and what have you, and Kuroda seems like a good bet to reach three wins. Three wins at $4 million per win equates perfectly to this deal. The higher the market value per win the better the deal looks.
The deal is failsafe because of the intrinsic risk, but if something makes the deal rotten, one has to figure the cause will be injury-related. What Kuroda lacks in pure stuff he makes up for in a quality selection. His palette includes various fastballs (including a splitter) and a slider. He rejects the framework suggesting a pitcher must use his fastball early and often by mixing his pitches well on the first pitch and throughout the count except when he falls behind:
As the above chart shows, the only time Kuroda uses a pitch more than 50% of the time is with his fastball in zero-strike, full, and one-strike(with one or more balls) counts. Even then, he only uses a pitch more than 60% of the time in six of the 12 possible counts and the fastball percentage does not breakdown his two- and four-seam usage. All that results in a nice whiff rate (9.8% for his career) and above average groundball rate (50.8% for his career) which combines with a high infield fly ball rate (12.3% career, but higher than that in the past two seasons) in suggesting batters seem to have issues driving the ball against Kuroda.
Barring injury, this deal could be a coup for Ned Colletti.
Print This Post