Kyle Lohse Propaganda

A thing that happens every offseason is that available players are valued. Front offices for teams decide how much a given player deserves. Fans of teams will do something similar, as well. Fans will evaluate players, but, often, they will tend more toward the extremes. They will identify players they badly want on their teams, and they will identify players they want no part of. These are usually exaggerated responses, as the desired players aren’t that great, and as the undesired players aren’t that lousy.

Based purely on my limited, anecdotal observations, it seems like a lot of baseball fans want no part of free-agent starter Kyle Lohse. Lohse is still out there, ready to be signed, but a market doesn’t seem to have developed, and no team seems to be the frontrunner. No fan that I’ve seen is too broken up about this. Based on contract crowdsourcing, Dave Cameron identified Lohse as a poor free-agent value. Many fans feel similarly, to the point at which they aren’t particularly interested in Lohse at all. The gut response to Kyle Lohse’s name is “ugh, stay away.” Thus, I have decided here to come to Kyle Lohse’s defense, with an issuance of pro-Lohse propaganda. This player you don’t desire — he’s capable of many things.


Lohse missed a lot of 2010 with an arm injury. Over the last two years, he’s started 63 games — just counting the regular season — and he’s come two outs from 400 innings. That’s one too-early hook. Over that span, he’s posted a lower FIP than big-money C.J. Wilson, big-money Tim Lincecum, big-money Jake Peavy, and suddenly-big-money Edwin Jackson. He’s also posted a lower ERA than CC Sabathia, James Shields, Hiroki Kuroda, Felix Hernandez, and Madison Bumgarner. The most important thing for a pitcher to do is to prevent the scoring of runs. Kyle Lohse has done that better than most for just about 400 innings. The most reliable predictor of what’s to come is what’s just happened. What’s just happened is that Kyle Lohse has been good!


So maybe it’s not about Lohse’s results — maybe you just don’t like Lohse, because you find him unexciting and unremarkable. He doesn’t throw a blazing fastball. His secondary pitches aren’t among the best secondary pitches. But, come on, if you don’t like Kyle Lohse’s stuff, you haven’t seen Kyle Lohse’s stuff.






Not a swing-and-miss pitcher, you say? Tell that to all the hitters he’s caused to swing and miss. Lohse is capable of missing bats. And relative to the greater population of similarly-aged males, Lohse’s repertoire is incredible. We’re talking 99th percentile. Look at that carefully selected changeup in the last .gif. Amazing! Kyle Lohse threw that!


The most important thing for a pitcher is to be a good pitcher. But there’s more to the job, too, and you could say Lohse is well-rounded. A pitcher should be able to field his position — pitcher, after all, is a position, in the infield. A good defensive pitcher can help his team, just as a poor defensive pitcher can hurt it. Do you have an opinion of Kyle Lohse’s defense? You should.


Such reflexes, such care to make an accurate throw to a base from somewhere other than the mound. Very briefly, the .gif hiccups. The camera, presumably, was amazed. Kyle Lohse knows how to field his position.


Say what you will about sacrifice bunts, but they’re still a part of the game, and as long as that’s the case, you prefer a guy who can bunt to a guy who cannot. If you’re given that a bunt has already been signaled for, you want the bunt to be a good, effective one. Last year, Lohse ranked seventh in baseball in sacrifice bunts. He was fourth among pitchers, and he knows exactly what to do, and how to do it.


Lohse isn’t dogging it to first base in the .gif embedded above — he’s taking a victory jog. Another sac bunt, laid down successfully.


Ordinarily, you don’t look for anything from pitchers at the plate. Sacrifice bunts, mostly. It’s assumed that pitchers will make outs, and when they do not, it’s something extraordinary. Kyle Lohse isn’t only capable of not making outs — he’s capable of extra-base hits. As a pitcher!


A double to left, off Fernando Abad. Abad has never allowed an extra-base hit to Matt Holliday. He’s never allowed an extra-base hit to Carlos Beltran. He’s never allowed an extra-base hit to Andrew McCutchen or Barry Bonds. Lohse got to Abad for a two-bagger. National League general managers, I see your eyebrows. I see what your eyebrows are doing.


This remains an age of on-base percentage, ushered in by “Moneyball” and the Oakland Athletics, and historically Lohse has swung at about the same rate of strikes as Kevin Youkilis, Chase Utley, and Daric Barton. Lohse won’t swing at just anything; he’ll chase only certain strikes. And when it comes to pitches out of the zone, Lohse has swung at a lower rate of them than established MLB superstars Pablo Sandoval and Vladimir Guerrero. Kyle Lohse has an idea of the strike zone — from the mound, and from the box.


Platoon Splits

Lohse is a right-handed batter, and like most right-handed batters, he’s more effective at the plate against left-handed pitchers. But Lohse hasn’t just been better by a hair. Against lefties, Lohse’s batting average has been better by 30%. His slugging percentage has been better by 34%. Kyle Lohse, historically, has been a lefty masher, relative to himself against righties.


Last year, Mike Trout was on first base for 45 singles. Just over 62% of the time, he advanced all the way to third base. Trout is one of the game’s premier baserunners, so that should tell you something. Last year, Kyle Lohse advanced from first to third on singles 100% of the time. That’s a better rate than Trout’s, by 38 percentage points. Kyle Lohse knows what the basepaths are for, and he knows what his legs are for, too. Just reaching base isn’t the end of it, for Kyle Lohse.



Kyle Lohse is a player capable of everything you want a player to be capable of. He’s demonstrated his ability in every part of the game, and whoever ultimately signs him will have on its roster a rare sort of talent. There are not many people who can offer what Kyle Lohse can offer. There are not many professionals who can offer what Kyle Lohse can offer. There’s only one Kyle Lohse, at least that meets the minimum major-league-baseballing requirements. It’s conceivable that a team next year could start Jonathan Sanchez. You don’t want your team to start Jonathan Sanchez. You’d greatly prefer Kyle Lohse.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

49 Responses to “Kyle Lohse Propaganda”

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  1. Midnight Rider says:

    Lohse is worth rostering, but he is looking for power-ball win with $5 slot resume…

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  2. MrKnowNothing says:

    looks like he’s gonna blow his something or another out reaching for third.

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  3. Well-Beered Englishman says:

    The juxtaposition of the bold headline “Power” with a bloop ground-ball double GIF made me smile.

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  4. Klements Sausage says:

    Not sure if you’re really hawking Lohse, or not, but it made me chuckle.

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    • AS says:

      His Oswing% is lower than Pablo Sandoval AND Vladimir Guererro! Both of them! They’re both successful hitters that clearly have a reputation of successfully hitting baseballs with a bat, and Lohse compares favorably to them. I’m convinced!

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  5. thirteenthirteen says:

    Jonathan Sanchez once pitched a no-hitter. Kyle Lohse has never pitched a no-hitter. Therefore, Jonathan Sanchez > Kyle Lohse.

    Well, it makes as much sense as many of the other points in this article!

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  6. James d. says:

    Good stuff. I think Lohse is that type of guy where everyone would rather ignore him and be wrong on the off-chance he succeeds than sign him and be wrong about him not failing — and GMs know this. Is it logical? Not really. But it’s exceedingly human.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I think people see Kyle Lohse’s success in StL and think “Joel Pineiro”.

      I don’t have anything against Kyle Lohse, but even as a Cardinal fan, I would rather let him walk than pay him what he thinks he is worth.

      I would much rather have Edwin Jackson, even if he’s not as good of a bunter or prolific power hitting pitcher (<– joke).

      If I were a GM, I'd be willing to give him a 3-year contract that averages to be worth 2 WAR/yr, so approximately 8-9M/yr. He's going to miss one season of the 3, and one of the 3 years he'll over-perform, but to balance it out, it would need to average around 2 WAR/y. Lohse is probably going to want more than 3/27.


      I, personally, don't really like the gif's used in these threads. You could take gifs of ANY MLB pitcher/player and show them being successful and be impressed. I mean they're major leaguers, of course they have quality stuff. Even Phil Dumatrait looked good on some strikeout occassions.

      If they are consistently good enough it comes through in the numbers. When pitching a full season (180-210 IP), he's a 2.5 – 3.5 WAR pitcher. The problem is 1 out of 3 seasons is a <1 WAR season due to injury.

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  7. Baron Samedi says:

    I don’t know if this can be considered a theme, but a common consequence of Jeff Sullivan’s recent articles is making me feel inferior to *any* baseball player.

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    • Tim says:

      You were able to construct a grammatically correct, properly punctuated and capitalized sentence. So I don’t think you have any worries on that front.

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  8. rustyspatula says:

    I’d almost think you were being sarcastic or something, if it weren’t for all of those thrilling baseball plays in gif form you used to back up your arguments! First-to-third on 100% of singles, you say? I’m sold!

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  9. Paul says:

    He’s the Adam LaRoche of pitching. Consistent, productive, but not sexy.

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  10. Cody says:

    This is a great article. Carson must be pissed that it isn’t on NotGraphs since I think it’s validity for both FanGraphs and NotGraphs is about 50/50.

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  11. Cidron says:

    quote – And when it comes to pitches out of the zone, Lohse has swung at a lower rate of them than established MLB superstars Pablo Sandoval and Vladimir Guerrero.

    Of course he has swung at a lower rate than Vlad.. Everybody else on this world has ! Vlad hasn’t met a pitch yet that he won’t swing at

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  12. Cidron says:

    Jeff, you are secretly his agent, right?

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  13. Scott says:

    OK… threatening me with watching Jonathan Sanchez I now have been persuaded to appreciate Kyle Lohse. You sir have done the impossible twice: made me appreciate the (by MLB standards) rather underwhelming Mr. Lohse and found a use for Jonathan Sanchez! Bravo sir!

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  14. Andy Konigsmark says:

    I loved the article. I believe a team such as KC would have been well served to jump on Lohse and save Myers. I like James Shields but Lohse plus Myers is a better package of players for the money.

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  15. Bob says:

    If you really wanted to show his bunting prowess, you should have used a .gif of his pinch hit “bunt” in extra innings of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series

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  16. chuckb says:

    I hope that you’re getting a cut of his next contract, Jeff.

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  17. Rich Mahogany says:

    Let’s start the bidding at 30 years, $5 billion.

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  18. algionfriddo says:

    I like Loshe and feel he would continue to be effective in Seattle, SF, SD, LAD & OAK… but that loss of a top pick is tough swallow when you have to pay him for 2 or 3 years as well. If healthy, he’s pretty good and a playoff level starter. I hope he resigns with STL on a 1 year deal. He should have taken the 13.3 and waited another season so he wouldn’t be connected with the loss of a pick.

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  19. Andy W. says:

    Lohse’s biggest problem is his agent. Not a chance he gets anywhere near what he’s searching for, and quite frankly, 2 years of good pitching shouldn’t mean a 5-6 year contract.

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  20. Weedpuller says:

    How much of his late signing is his agent’s strategy? How much is due to the team’s reluctance to deal with the agent? Many of his clients are still unsigned. That could be be intentional on the part of the agent, or not. I would like an insiders view of the Boras effect.

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  21. PackBob says:

    Regardless of his other skills, the Mariners should hire Lohse so his baserunning skill will rub off on Jesus Montero. 100%! Wtih Ibanez already in place for hitting and Wedge for catching (now that Olivo is gone), add Lohse and Jesus should develop into a premier player through osmosis alone.

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  22. DSC says:

    His biggest issue may be that he’s a #3 pitcher with some good stuff who has Boras for an agent trying to get him CC Sabathia money and contract length. If he took $8-10 million for 2 years he’d be a Tiger or Red or Brave by now.

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    • Phantom Stranger says:

      The problem for Lohse is that no one really believes he is a #1 or even #2 type starter, but he is going to get paid like one.

      I have to believe several teams have already offered him two-year deals and possibly even a third with vesting options. He’s likely holding out for more years from someone.

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  23. Samuel Deduno says:

    Kyle Lohse’s baserunning ability is second only to his ability to propagandate.

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    • mgraves says:

      +1, if only b/c Samuel Deduno is going to be making Twins fans forget about that middle reliever Correia being paid $5m/yr for two years.

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  24. wscaddie56 says:

    Lohse has excelled in large part due to excellent coaching, Duncan and Larusa. I would expect a Suppan-esque regression, plus his demands equals no way.
    As stated above, $16-20M over two years is perfect. As a brewers fan I’d approve one year $8M FWIW.

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  25. Travis L says:

    Anyone else notice that Lohse had a .262 BABIP against last year with a 23.9% line drive percentage? That’s pretty impressive and really underlines how flukish his 2012 was.

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  26. Sean says:

    What a double!

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  27. Sivart says:

    If his price came down, he would have a lot of interest.

    The years/dollars he’s asking for will make it tough for him to provide value above the terms of his contract, while making it far too likely that he will perform significantly below that level (due to injuries, ineffectiveness, or even just decline).

    To me, I think his price is just high enough that the risk is too great for most mid-market teams, even if they didn’t have to surrender a draft pick.

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  28. redsoxu571 says:

    You know this article is tongue-in-cheek when it says “not a swing-and-miss pitcher, you say? Tell that to all the hitters he’s caused to swing and miss”.

    As I think most of the readers here know, Lohse commands an impressive 5.6 K/9 rate for his career (5.7 these past two good seasons, so we can see he hasn’t gotten better there)! Definitely a big “stuff” guy.

    Pretty sweet .gif selections, though…

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  29. maqman says:

    Lohse and his agent mates may find just how much money $13.3MM is and should find a better agent.

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  30. Yes says:

    Reminds of the arguement for Prince Fielder, stating his speed. He has two in the park home runs! That’s more than Bryce Harper and Mike Trout combined!

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  31. vilhelm says:

    I hit a free throw once. 1 FOR 1. Sure it banged around a bit, BUT, like it WENT IN. How many did I try? ONE. The others were just foolin around.

    Michael Jordan missed a free throw. Sent a letter to the Bulls pointing this out, and pointing out that mine went IN. Can you believe this?

    Never got a response.

    Like the author saids, some people can’t recognize talent if it were to hit them on the head.

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  32. Dennis says:

    Lohse has done all the good things you say but how many games did he just go 6 innings and the relief corps saved the day. If Lohse had gone 7 – 8 innings in most of his outings he would be much more sought after. To me this is his shortcoming and he is not very exciting. And why the Cards should pay him a lot of money anyway…he is on the down side of his career.

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  33. Pam Gemmell says:

    Being a Cardinal fan, Lohse has everything you want and one thing you don’t want. DEALING with SCOTT BORAS!

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  34. Will MacPheat says:

    I am a Cards fan. Lohse is a GREAT middle of the rotation guy. A 3 or 4, maybe #2 starter but NOT a #1. Why? Because he cannot pitch a big game ala Carp. Now there aren’t a lot of Carps around and not every team has one, but if you want to win championships you need one. In my opinion the difference between a Carp and a Lohse is confidence – confidence that you can throw your pitch, when you want, and get the other guy out. Good, bad, or otherwise, the Cards have a #5 (Westbrook), and a decent selection of mid rotation guys. What remains to be seen is if Carp is still Carp, and if, failing that, Wainwright can be a Carp (probably can).

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  35. STLcardsFAN says:

    Seeing lohse play many innings, he is a top notch guy. the media loves to look at his ealier career but when he was with st. louis he was a top rotation guy sometimes over shadowed by Carp and Wanino. Yes he had a RARE arm ingury but once corrected he retrurn to the form that got him the 4 year deal st. louis gave him after we signed for a year deal. He had 3 loses (so media likes to have an opinion and cant read 3 from 8 as they reported 8 many times)

    If the cardinals didnt have so many pitching prospects i would of loved for them to offer him another multi-year deal. dave duncan taught him ho to be the pitcher he is, not the power pitcher he tried to be in early in his career..

    He should of been signed months ago, All the bust teams make every year this guy is proven and will be great for another 3-4 years. If not longer.

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  36. Ron says:

    As a Cardinal fan, the best compliment that I can give Lohse is that I was confident of the Cardinals chances each time he pitched. Pitchers will win some and lose some and a lot of that is out of a starters control (if theree is no offense on a particular day nobody will win) But, Lohse is a proven pitcher with good movement on most of his pitches and I would love for the Cards to get him back for at least 2 more seasons.

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