Saturday, December 26, 2009

Clayton Kershaw 2010: Avoid Results Oriented Thinking

Based on his 2.79 ERA in 2009, some people may be tempted to project Clayton Kershaw as one of the top starting pitchers in the National League in 2010. Don't be one of those people. One of the reasons for looking at peripheral stats is to avoid results oriented thinking. As far as we can tell, Kershaw got very lucky in 2009. He had an extremely low 4.6% rate of home runs per fly ball. That's unsustainable, and if you assume that it will return to a more typical value, it becomes clear that Kershaw has a long way to go before he's an elite pitcher. The main problem right now is his control. A 4.79 BB/9 is really bad, although with Kershaw's excellent K/9 (9.74 in 2009), he's still good enough to be an effective major league pitcher right now. That strikeout rate, combined with his age (21), give him the potential to be an elite starting pitcher, but he's not there yet. If you can get him late in your draft, he's great pick due to his upside. But if he goes relatively early (as he will in most drafts), the upside probably isn't worth the risk.


DrBGiantsfan said...

While Kershaw's HR rate might not be completely sustainable, he's going to get 8 or 9 starts against two of the lightest hitting teams in baseball, the Padres and Giants. Also, the Dodgers play 99 of their games in Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and AT&T 3 of the stingiest parks for HR's.

Alex said...

DrBGiantsfan - Good points.