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Owings Seeks Asylum In Petco

Micah Owings has been an interesting character over the years, garnering plenty of attention for his bat — .349 wOBA with nine homers in 217 career plate appearances — while leaving much to be deserved when on the mound. The two-way right-hander is closing in on 500 career innings (479.1 to be exact) with a 4.91 ERA to go along with his 4.95 FIP and 4.93 xFIP, so there’s no funny business here. He’s giving up runs as often as expected. Owings signed a one-year deal worth $1 million with the Padres recently, courtesy of the tireless Ken Rosenthal.

During his five years in the show, the long ball has been Micah’s biggest bugaboo. He’s surrendered 63 homers in his 479.1 innings, or 1.20 per nine. That’s not terribly surprising as a fly ball pitcher — just 36.1% grounders in his career — who’s played in two hitter’s parks (Arizona and Cincinnati), but of course Petco will help with that problem. The spacious gaps turn homers into doubles, and the ocean breeze turns rockets down the line into foul balls, singles, doubles, outs, basically anything that doesn’t leave the yard. The ballpark switch alone will help him do a better job of keeping the ball in the park.

Owings’ other big problem is left-handed hitters, mostly because he’s a low arm slot guy without a knockout changeup or splitter. It’s a classic righty specialist package. Here are the career splits…

RHB LHB
tOPS+ 86 116
K% 18.5% 14.1%
BB% 8.0% 11.8%
HR% 2.8% 3.2%
GB% 33.9% 38.5%
FIP 4.48 5.51
xFIP 4.62 5.30

Petco Park completely buries left-handed pull power according to StatCorner’s Park Factors, which will help Owings in a big way. Assuming he steps in as the swingman/multi-inning relief guy, his new home stadium will help mask his two biggest weaknesses on the mound. Furthermore, Bud Black has proven to be pretty adept at maximizing his bullpen’s effectiveness with matchups during his five years at the helm, so Owings also has that going for him.

And finally, there’s the offense. Owings doubles as an extra right-handed pinch-hitter, which heightens his value as one of the last guys on the roster. He’s a right-handed power guy, which again plays well in Petco Park. Or at least it plays better than left-handed power in Petco Park, that’s probably a more accurate statement since no one has an easy time going deep there. The Padres didn’t get a bargain at a million bucks, but they did a good job recognizing that their ballpark’s tendencies will help cover for Owings’ faults. They could end up squeezing half-a-win out of this investment if things break right.

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