A look at Andrew Sonnanstine

One win. Four losses. 5.57 ERA. Not exactly the numbers of a superstar. So why is Andrew Sonnanstine getting his own post? Well, because he has been getting very unlucky and deserves a look. First, let’s check out the breakdown of his numbers.

Sonnanstine Andrew 8 8 51.7 5.57 3.57 1.28 1.18 6.62 1.22 5.43 32.73 67.83 0.310 14.10 19.53 -2.00 -0.10

At the time of our LIPS ERA luck leaders posting, Sonnanstine had only seven starts. The criterion for inclusion was eight starts, so he was left off the list. Had he been on the list (with his eighth start included), he would be one of the 15 unluckiest pitchers in baseball.

A LIPS ERA of 3.57 is very solid for a guy that is available in 99.9% of ESPN leagues (that’s not me trying to be cute, that’s the actual percentage of leagues in which he is unowned). His 1.28 WHIP is solid, and a 1.18 DIPS WHIP only makes him more valuable. His strikeouts have been a little above average, but his walks have been fantastic.

I think we’ve established that he’s pitched well so far, but eight starts isn’t exactly ideal. He is still in small sample size territory. Let’s check up on his minor league numbers.

2005 A | 64 IP | 7.95 K/9 | 0.85 BB/9 | 45% GB
2005 A+ | 116.2 IP | 10.55 K/9 | 0.98 BB/9 | 34% GB
2006 AA | 185.3 IP | 7.40 K/9 | 1.65 BB/9 | 45% GB
2007 AAA | 63 IP | 9.29 K/9 | 1.86 BB/9 | 45% GB

Sonnanstine never got much hype because he is a “soft-tosser” whose best pitch is his change-up. Hmm… a guy who doesn’t crack 95 MPH and has a good change-up. Remind you of another Devil Rays pitcher? Maybe the one that was ranked No. 6 on our LIPS ERA leader board? In case you’re still unsure who I’m talking about, it’s Jamie Shields, a favorite of mine even before his impressive start to 2007.

Ignoring for a second that scouts aren’t big on Sonnanstine, his numbers are great. He has put up amazing walk rates throughout his ascension to the majors. His 1.22 BB/9 in the majors has to go up, but if it remained a little above 2.00, I wouldn’t be surprised; that would still be well above average. His strikeouts also seem legit given that he has shown an ability to rack them up in the minors. His 32% xGB% in the majors is worse than his GB% at any level in the minors, so this actually has a great chance of improving.

I’d say that Sonnanstine’s peripherals could still regress a bit (especially the walk rate), but overall they don’t look outrageous. He could be a nice surprise for fantasy owners in the second half. Depending on where his ERA ends up, Sonnanstine might end up like teammate Jamie Shields as far as next year is concerned: a guy with nice peripherals, questionable “stuff,” and average-ish surface numbers. Could be a bargain.

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