After an underwhelming 2011, Matt Capps is now one of the more interesting options out there for teams looking to fill the closer role. Last year, Capps saw his strikeout per nine rate drop to 4.7, the lowest in his career. He also gave up 1.4 home runs per nine, the highest since his 1.7 in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
One reason for his troubles last season could be a slight decrease in his velocity. Capps lost one mph on his fastball in 2011 compared to 2010, dropping to an average of 92.8 mph. As a result, he produced an 11.8% miss rate on his fastball, compared to 17.5% in 2010 and 15.1% in 2009.
To make matters worse, Capps’ fastball BABIP actually dropped to .258, 32 points lower than his previous 3 year average while his line drive rate on fastballs also dropped a full 10%. While this may seem like a positive, his HR/FB jumped from 6.1% in 2010 to 9.3%. And considering he was giving up 14% more fastball induced fly balls in 2011, his long ball troubles far outweighed any positives from a decrease in hits on balls in play.
Early CAIRO projections peg Capps at about a .6 WAR. The word is the Twins would like to bring Capps back. He’ll probably be looking for something more than a 1 year deal, however. Given his velocity troubles last year, it might be a bit risky to invest in Capps with a long term deal, especially for a small market team like the Twins.