FACTS/FLUKES: Fowler, Bedard, Ruggiano, Buehrle, Harvey

Fowler: Improved results, same skills ... Dexter Fowler (OF, COL) has been viewed as a five-tool threat since his early years in the Rockies farm system. But inconsistent play has frustrated owners still waiting on him to break out. Finally, there seems to be progress with Fowler batting over .300 with double-digit steals and home runs.

Year    AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  h%    G/L/F    PX  hr/f  Spd  SBO  HR/SB
====   ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ==  ========  ===  ====  ===  ===  =====
2009   433  .266  .243   13   73  35  42/21/37  102    4%  162  27%   4/27
2010   439  .260  .258   11   76  33  45/22/33   97    6%  174  16%   6/13
2011   481  .266  .262   12   73  36  43/21/35  131    4%  156  15%   5/15
2012   367  .302  .258   12   73  39  39/27/34  122   13%  176  11%  12/11

Fowler is delivering better numbers, but the underlying skills are the same:

  • He still strikes out frequently despite a slightly above-average walk rate.
  • Fowler's xBA exceeds his average by almost 50 points based on an elevated h%.
  • He's running less often, though his 79% success rate in SB attempts is the best of his career. (Or perhaps the success is because he's being more selective.)
  • Fowler's HR output jumped thanks to a bump in hr/f.

Now 26, time is running out for Fowler to live up to his 20-20 potential. His career high in HRs and still elite Spd score provide some hope for optimists, but a historic hr/f rate around 5% and declining SBO% should temper expectations.

 

Bedard's revival hits a wall ... It was easy this spring to believe Erik Bedard (LHP, PIT) was a sleeper in waiting. He had a strong 2011 (cut short by injury, of course).  He moved to the NL, and the Central division, no less. A 2.48 April ERA did little to temper hopes for a 2007 deja vu. But it ended there, abruptly.

Year    IP   ERA   xERA  WHIP  Ctl   Dom  Cmd   H%  S%    G/L/F     DOM/DIS
====    ===  ====  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===   ==  ==   ========   =======
2008     81  3.67  4.38  1.32  4.1   8.0  1.9   28  76   40/17/43   40%/27% 
2009     83  2.82  3.61  1.19  3.7   9.8  2.6   28  80   42/17/40   40%/27% 
2010    ---------------------------Did Not Pitch----------------------------
2011    129  3.62  3.56  1.28  3.3   8.7  2.6   30  75   42/20/38   54%/25% 
2012    121  4.76  4.03  1.46  4.0   8.6  2.1   33  68   43/24/34   39%/30%

Bedard's BPIs say the career revival has hit a wall:

  • Last year's improved Ctl is lost, contributing to a decline in Cmd and an ugly WHIP.
  • A slightly elevated hit rate and slightly lower strand rate have added to his problems, further padding his ERA.
  • Bedard's PQS-DOM/DIS ratio suggests you're almost as likely to get a stinker as you are a quality performance.

A short but stellar run in Baltimore and the BaseballHQ.com axiom "once you display a skill, you own it" provided good reason for owners to take a flier on the one-time ace Bedard. But circumstances that should have helped him excel haven't, and inconsistent outings from game-to-game (4 PQS-0 starts in his last 8 games)—especially in the second half—make him a liability for fanalytic owners contending for titles.

 

The glass slipper fits Ruggiano  ... If Justin Ruggiano (OF, MIA) isn't the surprise player of the year in the NL, he's at least in the conversation. A career .226 hitter over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has become one of the offensive leaders of a high-flying Miami franchise built on big names and fat contracts.

Year    AB     BA   xBA    OPS   bb%  ct%   h%    Eye   PX  hr/f  SB  SBO%
====   ===   ====  ====   ====   ===  ===   ==   ====  ===  ====  ==  ====
2011   105   .248  .238   .675     4   75   29   0.15  102   14%   1     9
2012   182   .330  .289   .989     9   71   42   0.35  195   20%  10    34

Ruggiano has displayed some impressive skills, but his BPIs also reveal a big hole and lots of luck involved in his breakout:

  • Ruggiano has shown power to maintain a hit rate above the league-average 30%, but his current h% is unsustainable over a full season.
  • Despite a more patient approach, as indicated by the improved bb%, he strikes out way too frequently to keep a .300-plus average over 500 ABs.
  • We don't have a large sample size to tell us where Ruggiano's hr/f will settle over the long haul, but consider that his current 20% is in Prince Fielder's (1B, DET) neighborhood.

Ruggiano is one of the NL's true Cinderella stories and the kind of player who's easy to root for. But while he has shown good power numbers in the minor leagues and has earned an opportunity in South Florida, beware the fact that his lofty average is being propped up by a lucky h% and his surprising power is aided by a hr/f rate that he probably cannot sustain long-term. That's not to say the Ruggiano magic won't last through September, but beware of assuming similar results in 2013 and beyond.

 

Buehrle rolls along ... If Mark Buehrle's (LHP, MIA) reputation screams reliability, then he certainly hasn't disappointed in his first season in Miami. The veteran lefty has already notched a 12th straight season with double-digit wins, is out-pitching his xERA for a sixth straight year. And as an added bonus, has the best WHIP since 2005.

Yr   IP     ERA   xERA   H%  S%   Ctl   Dom   Cmd    G/L/F    hr/9  hr/f   DOM/DIS
==   ===   ====   ====   ==  ==   ===   ===   ===   ========  ====  ====   =======
09   213   3.84   4.46   28  73   1.9   4.4   2.3   45/19/36   1.1   11%   33%/18%
10   210   4.28   4.87   32  70   2.1   4.2   2.0   46/16/38   0.7    6%   35%/15%
11   205   3.59   4.14   30  75   2.0   4.8   2.4   45/20/35   0.9    9%   54%/10% 
12   154   3.74   4.13   29  73   1.8   5.3   2.9   42/22/35   1.1   11%   52%/16%

Buehrle's BPIs remain constant, but with perhaps a few areas to watch:

  • Buehrle's walking fewer hitters and pushed his Dom rate above 5.0 for the first time since 2008.
  • But over the past two seasons, his GB% has dipped a little and those grounders have turned to line drives.
  • Buehrle's HR rate is also up from the past two seasons. Considering the move from U.S. Cellular (+38% RHB HR) to Miami, which was projected to play fairly neutral, this is surprising.

Buehrle is never going to anchor a fanalytic pitching staff—or a real one. But he's consistently proven he's a low-risk roster addition. And any slight deterioration of his skills has more than been made up for by the switch to a lighter-hitting league.

 

First Impression: Matt Harvey (RHP, NYM)

CALLED UP: July 22
CURRENT ROLE: Starting pitcher
POTENTIAL: #1 starter
2012 STATS: 20 g, 7-5 3.68 ERA, 110 IP, 2.3 Cmd, 3.9 Ctl, 9.2 Dom

Yr-lvl     IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  hr/9  H%    G/L/F   BPV
========  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ====  ==  ========  ===
11-aa*     60  4.64   ---  3.2   8.4  2.6   0.5  --   -----     93 
12-aaa    110  3.68   ---  3.9   9.0  2.3   0.7  31   -----     --
12-mjrs    30  3.00  3.46  3.9  10.2  2.6   1.4  26  38/22/40   94
*MLE

Harvey hasn't missed a beat since making the jump from the minor leagues:

  • On its own, Harvey's Ctl is borderline. But the superb Dom rate makes the walks a little easier to digest.
  • He's was burned by a pair of HRs in one of five starts so far. But gopher balls shouldn't be a concern based on his minor league record.
  • He's slightly outpitched his xERA, but a 94 BPV underscores the talent.

Harvey seized the attention of fanalytic owners with a stunning 11-K performance in his major league debut. Two of his other four starts were PQS-5 outings and he's yet to have a PQS-DISaster. Like any rookie pitcher, we can expect a few bumps as hitters face him a few more times. But nothing so far suggests the future isn't very bright.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.