Friday, May 26, 2017


If you were to pick out the single worst starting pitching performance of the 2016 season, the name that was appear on the most ballots would undoubtedly be the Arizona Diamondbacks' Zack Greinke.  Fresh off signing the biggest contract given to a pitcher in Major League history, Greinke was a pure abomination as he lost velocity on his fastball and proceeded to put up 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and a very mediocre 7.60 K/9 rate. Turning 33 and having a pronounced home run problem (1.34 HR/9), Greinke was a pariah for 2017 fantasy baseball drafts as he was picked more on name value than anything.  Fast forward to present time and Greinke just got done engineering a 12-strikeout masterpiece that lowered his 2017 ERA to 2.82 and raised his K/9 rate a career-best 10.48.  Looking every bit the ace that he was earlier in his career, Greinke has been one of the biggest fantasy baseball pitching stories of the season.

As always we need to dig in on the advanced numbers as Greinke's performance so far this season has been about as polar opposite as he showed just the year prior.  It is staggering in actuality how good Greinke has been, in particular with the major jump in K's.  What is interesting is that Grienke's fastball velocity has not improved this season but he is generating a major uptick in strikeouts for different reasons.  The first is that his overall K percentage and swinging strike percentage are way up.  There is clearly more bite and spin on Greinke's stuff and that is leading to the big strikeout jump.  In addition, Grienke has vastly improved his control; going from a 2.33 BB/9 a year ago to a stellar 1.61 in 2017.  Combined with the swinging strike increase and Greinke's lowered ERA can be explained a good deal from those issues.

However there are still some underlying things here that need to be mentioned.  The first is that Greinke remains homer-prone as his 1.34 HR/9 is WORSE than the 1.30 he had a year ago.  Also, Greinke has a lucky .267 BABIP but the adjusted ERA's still clock in very nicely (FIP ERA of 318, XFIP ERA of 2.88).  What this says is that Greinke is pitching legitimately well and that he is safe to proceed into the second half.  No major falloff is being indicated here barring injury and other than a bit of a rise in ERA due to the BABIP, Greinke looks safe to trust through the month of September this season.

Overall those who invested and bought very low on Greinke this season are being handsomely rewarded and they have one of the most potent performing arms as shown by the numbers.  It goes to show you that veterans can often find new ways to say on top of things and remain effective, something we are surely seeing now with Grienke.  What a story this has been.

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