by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Mike Leake’s first season in St. Louis was somewhat underwhelming. Can he actually turn things around and become a productive option moving forward or can we safely ignore him? Before answering that, let’s first take a look at the numbers from ’16:
125 Strikeouts (6.37 K/9)
30 Walks (1.53 BB/9)
53.7% Groundball Rate
He’s never been a pitcher who brought big strikeout totals (6.11 K/9 for his career), so the limited number shouldn’t come as a surprise. With his modest 7.2% SwStr% and 30.8% O-Swing%, there’s little reason to think that things are suddenly going to change.
The numbers that are going to be key to his success is his control and groundball rate. That said you have to wonder if he can maintain the impressive marks he posted last season considering his career marks:
Then again, even if we were going to suggest that he can maintain these types of numbers would it really matter? Sure things should be better than they were last season, considering a below average strand rate of 65.6% and the likelihood that he wins a few more games. Without the strikeouts, though, where is the upside coming from?
Last season there were 48 qualified pitchers who struck out 150 batters or more. Of those 50% posted an ERA of 3.50 or better and 63.5% were at 3.75 or better. Leake’s career ERA is 3.99…
In other words, there are a significant number of pitchers who possess better strikeout stuff and more upside in ERA. Skills are one thing, but production is another. Groundballs and control can only get you so far.
Source – Fangraphs