Potential BB% Regressers

In the last of my posts trying to translate my look at the predictability of pitchers’ spring peripherals into actionable advice, I examine those pitchers whose walk rates were much higher than their Steamer projections for the regular season. These are the guys there might be some cause for concern, as opposed to the potential BB% improvers, whose spring hint at a potential step forward with their control.

As a reminder, this list should not be taken as gospel (none of them should of course, but this one especially), because walk rate can be very much affected by a pitcher experimenting with new pitches or simply working on improving a particular pitch. There are enough outside factors and small sample sizeness that you should not make any rash decisions based on this list, but rather keep the information in the back of your mind. Maybe use it as a tie-breaker if you haven’t drafted yet or are mulling a trade.

Player IP TBF BB Spring BB% Steamer BB% Diff
Parker, Jarrod 11.0 51 13 25.5% 9.9% 15.6%
Zambrano, Carlos 21.2 104 21 20.2% 9.6% 10.6%
Minor, Mike 24.0 97 14 14.4% 8.4% 6.0%
Marquis, Jason 12.2 66 9 13.6% 8.0% 5.6%
Darvish, Yu 15.0 63 8 12.7% 7.5% 5.2%
Karstens, Jeff 17.0 70 8 11.4% 6.4% 5.0%
Below, Duane 15.2 76 10 13.2% 8.4% 4.8%
Bard, Daniel 24.2 110 16 14.5% 10.1% 4.5%
Beckett, Josh 19.0 71 8 11.3% 6.8% 4.5%
Rodriguez, Wandy 21.0 99 12 12.1% 7.9% 4.2%

Jarrod Parker– For a young pitcher, poor control during spring training probably means more than for a veteran, so this showing assured that Parker was ticketed to Triple-A to start the year. I still don’t really understand the prospect love for him, as his minor league skills have only been pretty good, but not great. I am sure the TJ surgery affected his peripherals last year, but even in Double-A in 2009 he was nothing special. Maybe he’s one of those whose stuff scouts love and it will eventually translate into stronger strikeout rates. He has been an extreme ground ball pitcher in the minors, so that is certainly a plus.

Carlos Zambrano– Although reports tell us that his velocity is up and he is in better shape, the terrible control gives us pause. I have never been a Zambrano fan to begin with, but with the improved velocity, I at least entertained the thought that he can generate some mixed league value. But the walks have all but squashed that idea.

Mike Minor– One of those annual sleepers on every sleeper list, Minor has not done anything to increase his sleeper appeal over the spring (unless of course you’re just looking at his 2.25 ERA). Minor has shown solid control throughout his career, but as a fly ball pitcher, a decline here could really hurt his performance as those solo homers become multi-run shots. I still like him though and would be willing to overlook the poor control in the spring.

Yu Darvish- I think we all pretty much know that Darvish is going to post a strong strikeout rate. What we cannot be sure of is how his control will translate and his spring provides some reason for concern. Everyone loves making the comparison to Daisuke Matsuzaka. He displayed excellent control in Japan, only to see that command disappear upon his move to the states. While most agree that Darvish has better control than Dice-K, we cannot be sure how much worse it will actually be (he obviously won’t be posting sub-2.0 BB/9 rates here like he did overseas). So once again, Darvish remains a medium risk, high reward pitcher whose risk may have increased ever so slightly given his spring.

Daniel Bard– I am tired of talking/writing about him because no one really knows how he will perform as a starter. Yes, his spring performance as one has been pretty terrible, but until the games count, I will refuse to admit defeat! Starters have much lower walk rates than relievers, so we normally would have expected Bard to see his walk rate improve upon his move to the rotation. Of course, his spring is making me doubt this.

Josh Beckett– Velocity is down the last time I read and he is dealing with a thumb issue as well. Is he ever completely healthy? Since he should be ready for his first start, it may be nothing, but it could have affected his spring control. If he struggles early on, don’t be surprised if he is DL’ed because that thumb injury is worse than originally let on.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Detroit Michael
Detroit Michael

You wrote: “Starters have much lower walk rates than relievers, so we normally would have expected Bard to see his walk rate improve upon his move to the rotation.” Is the second half of that statement correct? Maybe starters have lower walk rates because they are better pitchers and pitching for short stints doesn’t help one to improve his walk rate.

In Tom Tango’s oft-cited Rule of 17 post at http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/starter_v_relief_1953_2008/, he says that the average change in the walk rate is flat when a reliever becomes a starter.