Doug and I will be sharing a handful of samples over the next couple of weeks to give you an idea of what you can expect in the 2014 SP Guide. We have selected a diverse group across both leagues for the samples ranging from established aces to promising on-the-rise arms. Next up is budding star Doug Fister, joining the National League for the first time in his career after an off-season trade from Detroit. The mechanics report card denotes the split between mine and Doug’s writing. Everything above the card was written by me, the card and text are Doug’s. If you have questions, comments, or funny jokes you can either comment here or reach us on Twitter @sporer and @doug_thorburn. Details on how to order the guide are included at the end of the piece.
Doug Fister (30 years old) – Fister was already someone climbing up my draft board as the Tigers completely revamped their infield defense which stood to benefit him greatly. Instead, he gets traded to the NL where he will face pitchers and play behind a solid infield defense with his elite groundball rate.
The 2013 Tigers had baseball’s third-worst team runs saved on the infield at -34 with only the shortstops turning in a positive score, thanks no doubt in large part to the trade acquisition of Jose Iglesias. The Nats weren’t exactly four Orecks out there, but their -6 is a vast improvement and right around the middle of the pack at 17th. In 2012, they delivered an 8, good for 11th, while the Tigers had a -19 that left them fifth-worst.
Fister was hurt more by the 2013 iteration, posting a career-high .332 BABIP en route to a 9.9 H/9 and 1.31 WHIP. His .287 BABIP on groundballs was well above the .240 league average and accounted for 17 extra hits on his ledger. He entered 2013 with a .215 BABIP on groundballs, so 2013 definitely stood out like a sore thumb and a lot of it can be attributed to the shoddy defense surrounding him.
His strikeout rate was a useful 18.1 percent, just off the 18.9 percent league average, but when paired with the 54.3 percent groundball rate it becomes more than palatable. Facing pitchers alone should push him back above average. Hell, he had a 20.4 percent rate in 2011 without the benefit of flailing starting pitchers so we could realistically see him push into the low-20s in his new environs. The biggest gains are to be had with that WHIP.
A 1.31 was not fitting of his skillset, nor was the 3.67 ERA to be honest, but the former was far more egregious. If you put him at league average on that groundball BABIP and remove those 17 hits, his WHIP drops to 1.23. Get really frisky and put him at his .215 career groundball BABIP that he brought into 2013 and you’re slicing 26 hits off and all of a sudden he has a 1.18 WHIP. With 1.06 and 1.19 marks in 2011 and 2012, the upside is evident.
I think Fister is due for a huge season and it’s going to make the returns that Detroit got back look even worse than they did at the consummation of the trade. In a lot of drafts, he’s falling outside of the top 40 starters, offering tremendous value. Buy in bulk!
Fister made tremendous improvements to his balance last season, skyrocketing from a 40 grade in the 2013 SP Guide. He maintained a stronger vertical position and completely corrected the pronounced back-side lean during his stride phase, which had positive ripple effects on his posture by minimizing his glove-side tilt. The tall right-hander sets up on the third-base side of the rubber before initiating an extremely closed stride that directs his motion toward the on-deck circle.
Fister is throwing from an extreme angle when he reaches release point, such that he has to throw across his body in order to hit targets behind the strike zone, especially when his catcher sets up on the inner-half to left-handed hitters. Some pitchers have a naturally-closed stride, but the fact that Fister’s drag foot finishes miles away from the centerline indicates that he is going against signature.
It will be interesting to see if the Nationals address the issue, given that they made similar adjustments with Gio Gonzalez when he came aboard, with excellent results. But Fister arrives in Washington with a far superior walk rate, and the Nats may decide that if it ain’t broke, they won’t fix it.
The guide is emailed to your PayPal address after purchase. I send them out in batches, usually with a pretty quick turnaround. At most, it’ll be a few hours, but I’m usually all over it!!
There are a couple different options available to you this year:
- Order the Starting Pitcher Guide for $18
- Order the Starting Pitcher Guide & a year subscription to Paint The Black for $30 (normally $42)
Check out Paint The Black!!