Grading The Royals’ Pitchers Reviewed by Momizat on . OK, the position players had their turn, now it’s time to grade the pitchers the Royals used in 2012. There were some good grades (but too many bad ones) for OK, the position players had their turn, now it’s time to grade the pitchers the Royals used in 2012. There were some good grades (but too many bad ones) for Rating:
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Grading The Royals’ Pitchers

Grading The Royals’ Pitchers

OK, the position players had their turn, now it’s time to grade the pitchers the Royals used in 2012. There were some good grades (but too many bad ones) for the position players; I don’t think it will shock anyone that the Royals’ pitchers have plenty of bad marks.

To keep this from being a novel, I’m only grading pitchers who threw more than 50 innings, with one exception. So apologies to Nate Adcock, Francisley Bueno, Roman Colon, Danny Duffy, Tommy Hottovy, Jeremy Jeffress, Vin Mazzaro, Jose Mijares, Jake Odorizzi, Felipe Paulino and Ryan Verdugo. Oh, and  good ol’ Mitch Maier, who threw one inning back in April.

Jonathan Broxton
(35 2/3 IP, 1-2, 2.27 ERA, 25 K/14 BB, 1.402 WHIP, 182 ERA+, 0.6 fWAR)

Saves are overrated. Yet, ultimately, Broxton did his job most of the time (he had four blown saves as a Royal). So he deserves some credit for that. However, I would say Broxton was extremely fortunate that his high-wire act didn’t fail more often. His WHIP was almost the same as Luke Hochevar’s, to put it in some perspective. While he was frustrating to watch, I feel like he served his purpose perfectly. He came in, took over the closer spot when Joakim Soria was ruled out for the season, piled up some saves, and got flipped to a contender for a couple of decent prospects. That’s not really something Broxton could control, but it helps. Grade: C-

Bruce Chen
(191 2/3 IP, 11-14, 5.07 ERA, 140 K/47 BB, 1.367 WHIP, 81 ERA+, 1.3 fWAR)

I touched on this a little bit a couple of weeks ago, but Chen’s numbers this season  are not much different than what he did the last two years. The main difference is a large jump in home runs allowed. His hits allowed per nine innings also went up, but so did his strikeouts, and his walk rate decreased. I would expect a correction to his home run rate next year, so I wouldn’t mind having him back in the rotation. As a fourth or fifth starter, not at the top. However, he did not have a good year overall in 2012. Grade: D

Louis Coleman
(51 IP, 0-0, 3.71 ERA, 65 K/26 BB, 1.314 WHIP, 111 ERA+, -0.1 fWAR)

Coleman provided decent bullpen depth and middle relief this year, although a couple of minor meltdowns make me (and presumably the Royals) wonder if he could handle more pressure. Fun stat: the Royals were 4-38 in Coleman’s appearances; since he did not have a loss, we can assume he normally came in with the Royals behind. Doesn’t mean much, I just thought it was a weird stat. Coleman’s ERA was almost 5 in late June; he steadily lowered it the rest of the way. Grade: C

Tim Collins
(69 2/3 IP, 5-4, 3.36 ERA, 93 K/34 BB, 1.278 WHIP, 122 ERA+, 0.9 fWAR)

Everyone’s favorite diminutive lefty had a solid season, although he struggled down the stretch a little bit. Still, 93 strikeouts in 70 innings is pretty good. Now that we’ve seen two full seasons of Collins, I think we can discuss whether Collins is really a lefty specialist. In 320 plate appearances, righties have a .208/.309/.343 line; in 270 plate appearances, lefties have a .225/.356/.374 line. Lefties are also more likely to homer off Collins, and his K/BB ratio is better against righties. It’s odd, but Collins really is better against righties. Luckily he’s still decent against lefties, but the Royals really should stop using him as a lefty specialist. As a 6th- or 7th-inning guy, he’s quite good. Grade: B+

Aaron Crow
(64 2/3 IP, 3-1, 3.48 ERA, 65 K/22 BB, 1.175 WHIP, 118 ERA+, 1.2 fWAR)

Another solid season for Crow. I don’t know whether the Royals will try to convert him to a starter; I kind of doubt that they will, especially if they are able to add two or even three starters this offseason. I also have my doubts about whether Crow would be good as a starter. Even if he doesn’t, the Royals still have a valuable bullpen piece. Grade: A-

Jeremy Guthrie
(91 IP, 5-3, 3.16 ERA, 56 K/19 BB, 1.132 WHIP, 130 ERA+, 1.5 fWAR)

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a real, actual major league starter looks like. Those are his Royals numbers, of course. I hope the Royals can bring him back, although there’s a decent chance he won’t be this good for a full season (although as long as he can limit his walks like he did with KC, he will succeed). But he would still be an upgrade over just about anybody else in the rotation. Grade: A

Kelvin Herrera
(84 1/3 IP, 2.35 ERA, 77 K/21 BB, 1.186 WHIP, 175 ERA+, 1.9 fWAR)

This might be the best season by any Royals reliever in 2012. Herrera threw the most innings, had the lowest walk rate, and the best K/BB ratio among Royal relief pitchers. And he’s only 22. Herrera’s got one of the best fastballs in baseball and could easily be a closer, I think. If the Royals see the playoffs in the near future, he’s going to be a great weapon. Grade: A

Luke Hochevar
(185 1/3 IP, 8-16, 5.73 ERA, 144 K/61 BB, 1.419 WHIP, 1.5 fWAR)

I don’t know what more there is to say about Hochevar. Overall, he’s just not good, despite the flashes of brilliance. I will say that the Royals are unlikely to succeed until they get more serious about striking out hitters, as Hochevar led the Royals in K’s this year. Yet he tied for 21st in the American League, and was below the league average of 148 K’s per 180 IP. Racking up strikeouts doesn’t guarantee success, and plenty of pitchers are good without a lot of strikeouts. But in general, if you can get lots of strikeouts, you’re giving fewer batters a chance to get on base via walk, error, or just plain old luck. About the best I can say for Hochevar is that he ate up 185 innings; I don’t think the Royals really had anyone better to take those. Grade: D

Greg Holland
(67 IP, 7-4, 2.96 ERA, 91 K/34 BB, 1.373 WHIP, 2.2 fWAR)

Holland slipped right into the closer role after Broxton was traded, and racked up 16 saves over the last two months. His final numbers are a little inflated by a rough April; a stint on the disabled list seemed to fix him. Holland looks to be the closer going into 2013. Grade: A-

Luis Mendoza
(166 IP, 8-10, 4.23 ERA, 104 K/59 BB, 1.416 WHIP, 1.8 fWAR)

Mendoza’s overall numbers are eerily similar to Hochevar’s. The WHIPs are almost identical, and Hochevar had a better strikeout rate. However, Mendoza did a much better job of keeping the ball in the park (0.8 HR/9 IP vs. 1.3 for Hochevar). Also, after he returned to the rotation in mid-June, Mendoza put together a 3.83 ERA in 20 starts. He really improved his control, walking only 25 in those 122 1/3 innings. It’s not really enough to say the Royals have found something, but Mendoza probably deserves to be slotted in the number five spot in the rotation going into spring training. Grade: C-

Jonathan Sanchez
(53 1/3 IP, 1-6, 7.76 ERA, 36 K/44 BB, 2.044 WHIP, -0.6 fWAR)

It sure felt like more than 53 1/3 innings, didn’t it? Given the Royals’ success at turning this pitcher into Jeremy Guthrie, perhaps Dayton Moore should call up the Rockies and offer Jeff Francoeur for Carlos Gonzalez. Grade: F

Will Smith
(89 2/3 IP, 6-9, 5.32 ERA, 59 K/33 BB, 1.606 WHIP, 0.7 fWAR)

Smith didn’t have a very good year, but he’s only 23 and this was his rookie season. He did have several good starts, and I think he has a future at the back end of the rotation. My hope is that he will start 2013 in Omaha and keep learning, while being available as a replacement in case of injury or ineffectiveness. Grade: D

Everett Teaford
(61 1/3 IP, 1-4, 4.99 ERA, 35 K/21 BB, 1.451 WHIP, -0.3 fWAR)

A few spot starts and some middle/long relief appearances for Teaford in 2012. Therefore, there’s nothing much here to comment on. Teaford is basically organizational depth, which is still needed. Grade: D

About The Author

I grew up in Topeka, and learned to love the Royals over many summer nights listening to Denny and Fred. Of course, the Royals were much easier to love back then. They got their claws in me some 30 years ago, then they went to the playoffs in 1984 and won it all in 1985. And I thought to myself, "This is easy. This team is always going to be good!" Sigh. But what can I say? If I've made it this far, I suppose I will always be a fan. But whenever they get good again, I'll be sure not to take it for granted. I promise. I'm also a fan of the Chiefs, Jayhawks (even the football team), Sporting KC, and the Nashville Predators. By day, I'm a mild-mannered project manager for a publishing company, and every night I'm lucky to come home to my amazing wife Michelle. We've been married since 2005 and live in Overland Park. Fun fact, she grew up in Memphis watching many future Royals when Kansas City's AA team was there. So it didn't take much to make a Royals fan out of her. We don't have kids, but we've got three cats (one named after Alex Gordon) and a dog. Follow me on Twitter! @Darin_Watson

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