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Entries in Rick Porcello (5)

Monday
Jul162012

Porcello, Tigers Cursed By Shoddy Infield D

As a low-K pitcher who keeps the ball on the ground, Rick Porcello couldn't be in a worse spot than Detroit. Porcello and the Tigers' plodding, super-sized infield featuring Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Price Fielder go together like peanut butter and...motor oil.

It's no surprise, then, that Porcello sports the third-highest batting average on balls in play (.354) among MLB starters, and has a 3.83 Fielding Independent ERA that is more than six-tenths of a run lower than his actual ERA (4.47). Porcello takes the mound tonight against the Angels (7 pm ET, ESPN) with a BABIP on ground balls that is 40 points above the big league average:

Highest BABIP on ground balls, 2012

PitcherBABIP on grounders
Nick Blackburn 0.322
Josh Johnson 0.302
Joe Saunders 0.295
Jeremy Guthrie 0.295
Ivan Nova 0.294
Cliff Lee 0.291
Anibal Sanchez 0.288
Bartolo Colon 0.288
Rick Porcello 0.278
Zack Greinke 0.276
MLB Avg. 0.238

 

When you sport the fifth-lowest strikeout rate (13.2 percent) and the 15th-highest ground ball rate (53.2 percent) among starting pitchers, leaky infield D is a major problem.

Overall, Tigers pitchers have a .267 BABIP on grounders, which ranks third-worst in the big leagues behind the Yankees (.270) and the Royals (.273). You have to think that a Brendan Ryan or Jamey Carroll-type acquisition would be on Dave Dombrowski's wishlist, with Porcello being the biggest proponent.

Saturday
Jan282012

Porcello, Fister Should Fear Detroit's Infield D

The Detroit Tigers' decision to put $214 million man Prince Fielder at first base instead of DH and move Miguel Cabrera, who last played third base regularly five years and fifty pounds ago, to the hot corner has some wondering whether Detroit's quest for maximum offense might produce the worst defensive infield seen in years.

Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer probably aren't too worried, considering both are high-strikeout hurlers who induce fly balls when hitters do make contact. But Rick Porcello and Doug Fister, who put the ball in play and on the ground much more often, might be sweating the prospect of pairing the plus-sized corner infielders with shortstop Jhonny Peralta and a combination of Ryan Raburn and Ramon Santiago at the keystone.

Porcello's punchout rate (13.3% of batters faced) ranked in the 18th percentile among starting pitchers (meaning he was worse than 82 percent of starters). Fister (16.7 K%) fared better, but he still placed in the bottom half (45th percentile). With few Ks, Porcello and Fister both ranked in the top 20 among American League starters in the percentage of pitches swung at put in play:

PitcherIn Play Pct.
Joel Pineiro 53.6%
Brad Penny 51.2%
Jeff Francis 50.4%
Nick Blackburn 50.1%
Phil Coke 49.7%
Trevor Cahill 49.0%
Mark Buehrle 48.9%
Freddy Garcia 48.4%
Carl Pavano 48.3%
Rick Porcello 48.0%
Ivan Nova 48.0%
Blake Beavan 47.9%
Tyler Chatwood 47.5%
Zach Britton 47.3%
Josh Tomlin 47.2%
Tim Wakefield 46.5%
Bartolo Colon 46.5%
Jeremy Guthrie 45.9%
Brett Anderson 45.7%
Doug Fister 45.6%

 

And when batters put the ball in play against these two, it's often on the grass. Both had ground ball rates above the league average, with Porcello burning worms 54% of the time and Fister doing so 47%. Lots of balls in play, and lots of grounders: not a good combination for a club with four infielders whose best position is "hitter."

Porcello bore the brunt of sloppy infield D in 2011, as he had a .283 batting average on grounders put in play. That was 44 points above the league average for starters and was fourth-highest among AL starters (teammate Scherzer was third, though he had far fewer grounders put in play). Fister, by contrast, enjoyed a .196 BABIP on grounders while spending most of the season in Seattle. Suffice it to say, that's not likely to happen in 2012.

Miggy, Prince, Peralta and Raburn make for a formidable infield offensively, and their defensive foibles might not get that much notice on days when Verlander and Scherzer (second and 17th, respectively, among AL starters in K rate) are on the bump. But when pitch-to-contact, ground ball-centric pitchers like Porcello and Fister take their turns, look for lots of singles.

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