HOT: Matt Harvey, RHS
This hot young 24 year old phenom is predicted to continue to be dominant this season, albeit not at the insane clip he’s shown so far. The key indicators of FIP (2.21) and xFIP (2.92) are more realistic than his current 1.52 ERA, and his low .197 opponents BABIP suggest his ERA will go up, still at a top-notch 2.92. Last season his ERA was 2.73, still a dominant performance.
His effectiveness lies in his FB/changeup/slider/curve release points all come from around the same area yet all break differently and with varying ranges of velocities and movements. This is similar from 2013 to 2012 and thus predicts a repeat of a successful season.
What has helped him is an impressive lower BB/9 (1.98 vs 3.94 in 2012) and an impressive 9.61 K/9 (vs 10.62 in 2012).
His “stuff” has been very similar in 2013 and 2012 – predicting a repeat performance. The “stuff” is FB 93-97mph (58% of pitches), slider 87-91 (21%), curve 80-84 (11%), and changeup 85-87 (10%). His changeup release point is deceptively similar to his FB – and both have 20% more spin than the ML average making it very difficult on batters.
This year he is getting a very consistent separation of velocities for each pitch type:
HOT: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona
+ His OPS+ jumped each of his three MLB seasons: 117/125/186.
- BABIP is getting higher each year: .323/.340/.382 so according to traditional statistical thinking he could regress towards a more normal .300. However he is hitting line-drives more frequently (21.2%/23.9%/24.6%) and so his high BABIP is partly due to his ability to make solid contact with the ball. Interestingly he also had high BABIPs even in the Minors indicating he could be more than just lucky: .331 in AA, .385 in High A, and .390 in Rookie level.
+ His improved performance is helped by being more selective at the plate, swinging at pitches out of the zone less frequently: 27.8%/29.4%/22.9%.
+ SO/BB rates improving each season: 2.65/2.17/1.74.
+ His ISOP (Isolated Power) has skyrocketed this year: .224/.204/.318. Looking at his spray chart he continues to spray to all fields and is hitting home runs more frequently: PA/HR was 22.1/29.4/14.9
+ He is 25 years young and has not even reached the peak age for MLB players. He is adjusting to MLB pitching faster than they are adjusting to him.
NOT: Carlos Gomez, CF, Milwaukee
+ Gomez has been improving steadily each of the past 5 season, with his OPS+ going 65/76/82/101/159.
- His BABIP is high at .421, well above his .311 career average. This will most likely regress backwards the rest of the season based on an AriBall analysis: his spread of line-drives, groundballs, flyballs, and pop-ups show that his BABIP should have been .372 so far this year, not .421. One big difference this year is that he has not hit any infield fly balls, which accounted for 13.3% of the balls in play over his career.
- His walk rate is awful at 3.9%, which is not much worse than the awful 4.4% last year and 4.9% for his career. This is less than half of the MLB average.
- Considering his plate discipline (swinging at balls outside the zone) is about the same as his career average, it is most likely that Carlos will not be so hot the rest of the season.
NOT: Patrick Corbin, LHS, Arizona
- His ERA is 1.52, but xFIP is a much higher 3.92 and FIP 3.10 – either way it is expected to bring his ERA closer to his career average of 3.54.
- A pitcher with his “stuff” typically has a 4.20 ERA, and last year he had a 4.54 ERA (compared to 1.52 so far this year). “Stuff” of 90-93 FB (70% of all pitches), 78-82 slider (20%), 79-82 changeup (10%), spin, and with his level of command.
- The BABIP off each of his pitch types (FB 2.38, changeup 2.67, slider .273) are all well below the respective ML averages. Overall his BABIP was .259 - in other words he was lucky and/or his defense helped him out more than typically. One note on his FB is that it has more horizontal movement than almost any starting LHP which is probably why the BABIP was so low – it was difficult for batters to make solid contact. In fact his FB had 2541rpm, which was well above the 2051 ML avg and better than his 2317 from last season. Conversely his slider lost spin, going from 489rpm last season to just 342 this year.
- Another key indicator that he will regress is that his K/9 regressed from last year (6.92 vs 7.23 last year) as did his BB/9 went up (2.87 vs 2.10 last year).
- He is not getting outs in on the hands of RHH the way he did in 2012
* All told, his release points, movement, velocity separation, and mixing up of pitch types are similar from 2013 to 2012, which signals are regression back to his 2012 performance of 4.54 ERA.