Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Aroldis Chapman 2010: Fastest Pitch, Biggest Bust
My thoughts on Aroldis Chapman in 2010 (and beyond) can be summed up in four words: fastest pitch, biggest bust. Ok, technically neither of those are true, but here are the key facts about Chapman. He is a 22 year old Cuban who defected last year, and was just signed by the Cincinnati Reds for 5 years and $25 million (with an option for a sixth year at $5m). His fastball has been clocked as high as 102 MPH. Obviously the Reds (and other teams) were willing to pay for his upside. Now the bad news - according to Baseball Reference, in his last season in Cuba he walked 62 batters in 118.1 innings pitched. He also threw 14 wild pitched. That's really bad. Especially against less than Major League quality opposition. His strikeout rate doesn't make up for it. He struck out 130. That's excellent, but not really dominant enought to begin to make up for that lack of control. People like to point to Randy Johnson as a pitcher with similar skills and similar statistics early in his career. That's true, but I don't think you can expect every wild 22 year old to figure things out like Johnson did. Chapman's upside is probably worth the risk in a keeper league, but I don't expect him to have any impact at all in 2010.