Jake Peavy Loves His Defense

Drafting Jake Peavy last year was basically an after thought. Not much demand existed for a 31-year-old pitcher coming off a season with a near 5.00 ERA and shoulder issues. He was able to come back with a force and ended up as the season’s 17th highest rated starting pitcher with the same auction value of CC Sabathia, James Shields and Stephen Strasburg. I expect somewhat similar results in 2013 as he had in 2012 because of continued health and improved defense around him.

Here is some quick comparison between Peavy’s 2011 and 2012 seasons

Stat: 2011 value, 2012 value
K/9: 7.7, 8.0
BB/9: 1.9, 2.0
HR/9: 0.8, 1.1
FIP: 3.21, 3.73
GB%: 39%, 37%

With the above stats, ones that pitchers have control over, Peavy seemed to have a better season in 2011. His fantasy owners know differently. His ERA and WHIP were improved in 2012 because of a 35 point drop in his BABIP. The lower number of hits helped improve the rest of his stats.

Stat: 2011 value, 2012 value
BABIP: .317, .272
WHIP: 1.26, 1.10
LOB%: 64%, 76%
ERA: 4.92, 3.37

The lack of batted balls going for hits was the main reason he improved. Some of the improvement could be attributed to luck, but not all of it.

The White Sox made a huge improvement in their outfield in 2012 by just moving Carlos Quentin‘s atrocious defense out of their outfield. As a team, the White Sox went from a 2011 team BABIP of .303 down to .288. With the improved OF defense, less hits turned into extra base hits. In 2011, 10.2% of the non-HR hits Peavy gave up were XBH. In 2012, the number dropped to 6.8%. While not all of the difference in 2011 and 2012 BABIP can be attributed to the better defense, some of it can.

Pitching over 200 innings was the other main factor for the increase in his 2012 value. It was his first season since 2007 that he hit the 200 IP mark.

Season: IP
2007: 223
2008: 173
2009: 101
2010: 107
2011: 111
2012: 219

To put it nicely, Jake had a problem with staying healthy. Here are the number of DL trips and days lost over the same time frame:

Season: DL Trips, Days lost to the DL
2007: 0, 0
2008: 1, 28
2009: 1, 102
2010: 1, 89
2011: 2, 66
2012: 0, 0

Most of the days lost were from shoulder issues. His improved health should not be a surprise since joining the White Sox. The White Sox are by far the league’s best team at limiting injuries. If any team can keep Peavy on the mound, it is them.

Jake Peavy‘s improvement from 2011 to 2012 was focused on his ability to stay healthy and limit hits. These traits should continue into 2013 and his stats may not regress as much as people think.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


One Response to “Jake Peavy Loves His Defense”

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  1. Switters says:

    Makes one wonder whether Choo will be as bad in CF in CIN as Quentin was in the OF in CWS?

    Could one bad OF defender affect Latos, Cueto, Bailey et al. as much as the article implies was, at least partly, the case for Peavy?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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