Remaining Free Agent Groundballers

With Aaron Cook and his 57% career groundball rate now off the free agent market, it's a good time to have a look at some available hurlers who have a habit of keeping the ball on the infield.

There's no official distinction for what makes one a groundballer, of course, but the average MLB pitcher induces grounders about 44% of the time. So, we're looking at guys who clock in above that rate for their career and who logged at least 100 innings in 2011.

  1. Paul Maholm – 52.3%. He's not spectacular by any stretch but is reliable and should find a home as someone's No. 4 or 5 starter. 
  2. Joel Pineiro – 49.2%. His 60.5% rate as a Cardinal in 2009 looks like an outlier, but whoever signs him will hope he can recapture that form.
  3. Hiroki Kuroda – 48.6%. His career average would be higher were it not for a big dip in 2011 – down to 43.2%. Is that noise, or a change in profile for an aging pitcher who's battled injuries?
  4. Roy Oswalt – 47.3%. He hovered around 50% during his prime but seems to have settled in close to league average the past couple years. I wonder if his back troubles have been a factor.

As you can see, most of the extreme groundballers (50% or more) are off the market. Edwin Jackson, the prize of the remaining class, has had some pretty notable swings in groundball rate from year to year, which is Edwin Jackson in a nutshell.

14 Responses to Remaining Free Agent Groundballers Leave a Reply

  1. Snoochies8 3 years ago

    come on a’s, at least one of these guys

  2. aricollins 3 years ago

    What’s with the tag of inconsistency Jackson gets? His groundball percentages haven’t changed from year to year more than your average pitcher, and neither has his ERA.

    His peripherals have been a lot better the last three years than his early career, but that’s a pretty good kind of inconsistency: steady improvement.

    • vincentjulian 3 years ago

      I guess it’s that he’s not consistent enough to demand the kind of money he’s looking for.

      • aricollins 3 years ago

        My point is that perhaps you might think he’s not good enough, but he’s certainly consistent. There’s no up-and-down season-to-season variance here in his peripherals, unless you mean that he didn’t used to be any good, and the last several years, he has been good.

    • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

      I think its because of what pitchers in E Jackson’s category have done after free agency

      Aj Burnette (11.3 WAR over 3 seasons before his FA)
      John Lackey (11.4 WAR over 3 seasons before his FA)
      Edwin Jackson (11.2 WAR over 3 season before his FA)

      main difference is that both lackey and burnette had one 5+ WAR season, so they flashed higher end potential.

      • aricollins 3 years ago

        Perhaps higher potential, but not consistent. That’s my point. Jackson is very consistently good. He may not be great, but he’s consistently good.

        Also consistently healthy, something neither Burnett nor Lackey could claim. (He’s also several years younger than either.)

        Agreed, though, that they each had one season better than any of Jackson’s so far.

        • undocorkscrew 3 years ago

          I think you’re overselling this consistency thing.

          2007: 5.76 ERA, 1.758 WHIP, 10.9 H/9, 4.9 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
          2008: 4.42 ERA, 1.505 WHIP, 9.8 H/9, 3.8 BB/9, 5.3 K/9
          2009: 3.62 ERA, 1.262 WHIP, 8.4 H/9, 2.9 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
          2010: 4.46 ERA, 1.395 WHIP, 9.2 H/9, 3.4 BB/9, 7.8 K/9
          2011: 3.79 ERA, 1.437 WHIP, 10.1 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 6.7 K/9

          He has been improving on homers, but hits allowed, walks, and strike outs seem to fluctuate. Over that span he’s allowed hitters to get on base at a .334 clip and even with his solid campaign last year it was .342. His FIP has been steadily improving though, I’ll give you that. I’m just not sold that he’s worth more than 3/30-3/35.

          • aricollins 3 years ago

            Yes, but as long as you look at the last three years, which are obviously better than the years before and also the most relevant to predicting his future, he’s been no more inconsistent than any other pitcher.

            Numbers like WHIP and ERA are based heavily on BABIP, which fluctuates naturally based on luck and defense behind him (and he’s certainly had a lot of different defenses behind him).

            If you look at FIP and xFIP, which strip out some luck and average the peripherals out, you get 4.28, 3.86, 3.55, and 4.32, 3.71, 3.73. And WAR, which works off FIP and reflects the lower run-scoring environment of the last couple years: 3.6, 3.8, 3.8

            Point is, he’s just as consistent as anyone else. It’s a weird criticism to say otherwise.

      • slider32 3 years ago

        I agree, of all the free agent pitchers Jackson is the biggest gamble. He is a major over pay, with average written all over him. Just the point that he has pitched for so many team supports this theory.

  3. EightMileCats 3 years ago

    Wish the Tigers would snag one of these guys. Hold a rotation spot for the year until Turner is ready. Would mind Maholm just to throw a lefty into the rotation, but I think Oswalt is the one getting all the attention from Detroit fans

  4. xmo2rep 3 years ago

    Oswalt will be wearing Birds on a Bat on his chest very soon! Dave Duncan’s “leave of absence” may have put a temporary crimp in the negotiations but I hear it will be worked out.  12 in 12.

    • jhfdssdaf 3 years ago

      I just don’t see it.  Unless the Cardinals are willing to simply eat Westbrook’s salary, there just isn’t room for Oswalt in the rotation.  I have to imagine there is another team that wants him enough to give him more money than the Cardinals will offer.

  5. BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    It’s not really correct to say that Kuroda has “battled injuries.” The only year he spent any length of time on the DL was 2009, when he got hit in the head by a line drive.

  6. Lunchbox45 3 years ago

    There’s about 20 teams that would take oswalt on a 1year deal..

    unfortunately I doubt he tries to restore some value while pitching against the sox and yanks.

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