Few Free Agent Groundballers Remain

When MLBTR's Tim Dierkes took stock of the free agent groundballers at the outset of the 2010-11 offseason, the pickings were slim. Fast forward three months and Jake Westbrook, Jorge de la Rosa, Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, Brad Penny and Brandon Webb have all signed.

Carl Pavano, who is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Twins, and Jeff Francis are the only remaining free agent starters (minimum 50 IP) with above-average ground ball rates. Pavano posted a 51.2% ground ball rate last year, while Francis posted a 46.8% ground ball rate.

Though it doesn't seem likely that he'll pitch in 2011, Andy Pettitte posted a respectable 43.9% ground ball rate last year. Jeremy Bonderman, a candidate to replace Pettitte in New York's rotation, also hovered around the league average and posted a 44.7% rate. 

Why all the fuss about ground balls? Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has said before that you can't hit a ground ball out of the park. Fly balls are another story, however.

After MacPhail traded for Kevin Millwood last offseason, the veteran posted a career-low ground ball rate and a career-high fly ball rate in hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Otherwise, Millwood's numbers weren't all that different from Jake Westbrook's in 2010. The right-handers, both in their mid-thirties, pitched close to 200 innings apiece with about 6.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 last year.

But Millwood allowed considerably more fly balls than Westbrook, who kept the ball on the ground. The result: 30 home runs allowed by Millwood (Westbrook allowed 20), an ERA nine tenths of a run higher than Westbrook's and, almost certainly, far less guaranteed money in free agency.

10 Responses to Few Free Agent Groundballers Remain Leave a Reply

  1. dc21892 5 years ago

    The problem with Bonderman is health. The Yankees are left with slim pickins’. Most of the arms remaining are injury prone. They may need to sign 2-3 of them to have depth.

    • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

      CC will just pitch once every 3 games and the yanks will be just fine.

      • If CC opted out after 2011 with the rotation looking the way it is, I wonder how badly the Yankees would flip their lid.

        • dc21892 5 years ago

          I would PISS my pants laughing. Doubt it’ll happen but it would be funny.

        • dc21892 5 years ago

          I would PISS my pants laughing. Doubt it’ll happen but it would be funny.

  2. reggie 5 years ago

    Jeff Francis should be on this list.

    • Slopeboy 5 years ago

      I agree, but only because he’s a lefty and the park plays a little bigger to left and center. While the outcry about A-Rod’s and Jeter’s lack of defense is a bit overblown, because they do make the plays they get to; their diminished range is a real concern.If I’m signing a Ground Ball pitcher from the NL, I prefer a lefty.

  3. Oneofakind00 5 years ago

    Shawn Hill may have only had 20 big league innings (90 innings b/w minors and bigs), due to rehabbing from his second tommy john, but he had a 49.3% G/F with Toronto in September. A free agent and someone worth taking a low $ gamble on, one would think.

  4. 27YANKEE27 4 years ago

    The Tigers should trade Brandon Inge and Austin Jackson to the Indians for Grady Sizemore and sign a 3rd basemen (Perdo Felize

  5. 27YANKEE27 4 years ago

    The Tigers shhould plan on tradeing Brandon Ing and Austin Jackson to the Indians for Grady Sizmore and plan on singing a 3rd baseman

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