SAGNOF – Saves Ain’t Got NO Face. We all know the mantra. For those of you new to Razzball, the pursuit of saves is a fickle battle. There’s more turnover than at IHOP on free pancake day. Pitchers get hot, then not. Some need a break, while others just break. Many just plain suck. And then we have managers like The Sciosciapath. No further explanation needed. Although, even if I tried, I probably wouldn’t be able to explain his madness anyways. Whatever the case may be, saves appear out of thin air every season. Did you know that Phil Maton got a save last season? Exactly. In fact, a total of 162 pitchers got at least one save last year. Why am I driveling about saves? Because I want to write about Wade Davis today. I usually don’t write about closers because Smokey takes care of that, but I just got that itch after perusing Fangraphs. Yes, some scroll through Pornhub and Redtube. Pssst….I still do sometimes as well….But most of the time it’s scrolling and clicking on the various tabs on player pages at Fangraphs. SAGNOF. Son Ain’t Give NO F***s. So, what stood out about Wade Davis?

The 20 saves are good for 4th in all of baseball. Only Brad Hand (21), Craig Kimbrel (22), and Edwin Diaz (27) have more saves. But, out of the top 10, Davis is the only one with an ERA over 4 and is tied with Brad Boxberger with a 1.30 WHIP. For perspective, six of the pitchers have a WHIP below 1 and only three have an ERA above 2.50. Davis is also tied for the league lead in blown saves (4).

10.08 K/9. Not bad, but he was at 12.12 last year with the Cubs. The walk rate of 5.53 is bad. The BABIP of .254 seems a little low, but the 71% LOB% should probably go up, which would negate some of the BABIP increase. The ERA is at 4.55, but the xFIP is 4.62. Hmmmm, not good.

Then, I went to the pitch arsenal, as it’s been well documented that breaking stuff doesn’t break as much in Coors. What do you know? Davis is throwing the curveball at a career-high 21.4%. Hmmmm. When Davis entered the league in 2009, he threw the fastball 72.9% of the time. Here’s the progression: 71.6, 68.3, 65.9, 55.2, 61, 52.3, 50.6, 48, and 48.8. Correspondingly, in 2009, Davis threw the curveball 12.5%. Since then: 14.7, 16.3, 20.6, 21.6, 18.9, 18.9, 18.4, 20.8, and 21.4. It’s been a natural evolution for Davis as a pitcher. In addition, he’s scrapped the changeup (0.2%) and has utilized the cutter (29.6%) as the third pitch.

Back to the curveball, as that seems to be the likely culprit for Davis’s struggles. To my surprise, the curveball has been his best pitch. He’s thrown it 107 times and has a 43.5% strikeout rate. Batting average against is .095 and ISO is .048. The BABIP is only .182, so some regression could happen, but swings and misses can’t contribute to BABIP.

It’s been the fastball and cutter that have caused the most problems. The 19.6% walk rate for the four-seam and 14.3% walk rate for the cutter stand out. Davis has always exhibited really good control with those two pitches. Walk rate had never been over 15% for the four-seam and over 8% for the cutter. While the strikeout rate for the cutter is at 34.3%, it’s only 14.3% for the four-seam. The ISO for both? .159 for the four-seam and .233 for the cutter.

As for home/road splits, Davis has been better on the road. That’s to be expected, although most of his control problems have been on the road, as 13 of 17 walks issued have been away from Coors.

I think the plate discipline numbers show all that is wrong with Davis right now. First strike percentage is at 48.3%, the first time under 50% for his career. Batters are swinging at a career-low 63.7% in the strike zone and 41% in general. Contact rate in the strike zone is a robust 92.5%. That number had been in the 70% range three of the past four year. Swinging strike rate is 10.6%, after being 15.4% the prior year. My interpretation is that Davis is nibbling. Falling behind hitters, then getting crushed when he has to challenge. The velocity on his fastball was 96.7 mph four years ago. It has steadily declined to the current 94.6 mph. The decrease in velocity, coupled with pitching in Coors, has messed with his overall game. That’s the only way I can explain his road woes, outside of not staying at a Holiday Inn.

Davis is 32 years old and making $16 million this year, $18 million next year, and $17 million in 2020. In 2021, there’s an option for $15 million. There’s a chance a contender would be willing to eat that contract to bolster their bullpen, considering the cost to acquire should be decreased, but me thinks he stays in Colorado. If so, he would remain the closer, and be given every chance to “figure things out.” Davis is a veteran and the curveball has been downright filthy. I would think he’d figure out the fastball control sooner rather than later.

VERDICT

   
  1. dfrench23 says:
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    Our crazy announcer in KC, former utility player Rex Hudler, used to say, “WADER, CHECK PLEASE!!” back in the glory days (2014-15) of the dominant Royals bullpens.

    “Wader” was actually the SETUP guy in the best bullpen I’ve even seen. HDH is what we called it.

    Herrera (Kelvin)
    Davis
    Holland (Greg)

    FILTHY.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @dfrench23: Well, Sexy Rexy was known to partake in the wacky tabacky. That is a great line. Always liked him when he was with the Angels. Anyways, that pen was nasty. A huge reason why they won it all

  2. Crabman says:
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    I enjoyed your method to analyze the player objectively. I do a lot of medical research and we call it evidence based practice. The difference being that any subjective data and biased commentary be omitted unless the measurement is that of opinion. I believe the biased commentary, as referenced in your closing comments, is necessary for fantasy baseball to help predict and advocate the sell or buy-in. Do you ever do an evaluation on past articles, circling back on the highlighted players progress?

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Crabman: Thanks Crabman. I do try and let the numbers or eyes tell the story. I also agree that interpretation of data can be subjective and biased. That’s why inefficiencies will probably always exist in any market. As for evaluating past articles, I have not gone back to track the progress of players. I guess I could/should, but I’d probably get too depressed.

  3. Chucky says:
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    Simple fix to both Davis and Boxbergers problems…..I’ll drop them from my roster and their numbers will improve. I kind of have that affect on players careers. Seriously. They don’t call me “ The Cooler” for nothing.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Chucky: DO IT!!! For the good of humanity! I kid…or am I?

  4. Hater Bell

    Grey says:
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    Son Ain’t Give No F***!

    I enjoy that

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @Grey: Ha! Thanks. I like your avatar pic

  5. The Shoe says:
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    Hey Son, great analysis once again! I come seeking more trade advice (the Wacha one I asked you about recently seems to be working out ok for me though I would wish an injury upon any player).

    This time I’m trying to snag Snell. I’m hoping he can be one of my four keepesr moving forward while giving me a consistent ace or near-ace at the top of my staff.

    A. Where do you rank Snell among starters? I’m hoping he can be a top 15 arm, but I do have some concern with his peripherals, his low babip (.235) and high LOB (85.3%). Also, he’s obviously in a tough division and on a bad team.

    B. My trade partner is asking for a solid/good bat and a solid/good arm to justify the trade. Here’s my offense: Posey, C. Santana, Kinsler, Bregman, Arenado, Trout, Cain, Haniger, Merrifield, Cruz. My pitching is Morton, Quintana, Stripling, Pivetta, Clevinger, Gibson, Soroka, Musgrove/Peralta (depending on who I can add through waivers today), Gsellman, Rondon, Norris, Treinen, Green.

    Do you think I should stand pat and just work on my pitching staff through the waiver wire? My team is in 2nd place in a 12 team H2H, and reaching the playoffs looks very likely, so I’m trying to gear up for it now.

    C. In terms of packages, I feel ok with moving batters like Posey, C. Santana, Haniger, Merrifield, and Cruz. As for pitchers, I feel like Quintana could be a good option but in general I’m having a difficult time figuring out who I’m willing to let go or who my trade partner wouldn’t think I’m low balling him with. For example, I’m not sure I’d want to trade a guy like Strip, Clev, or Pivetta, and I’m not sure if he’d think someone like Soroka is not enough. Whatever the case, I know I need to hear back from him who he’s interested in. Do you have any thoughts on reasonable combos of one batter and one pitcher to trade for Snell?

    Ok, sorry for the super lengthy post, and thanks in advance for sharing your fantasy wisdom.

    • Son

      Son says:
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      @The Shoe: Thanks Shoe!

      First off, is it a points or category league? I think stud pitchers are more valuable in a points league than category ones. For both, I think there is increased value to playing the matchups and utilizing 2-start pitchers.

      As for Snell, he’s the #9 pitcher on the Razzball Player Rater. All your concerns are warranted, but he misses bats.

      In terms of packages, I devalue catchers alot, so I’d have no problem parting with Posey. As for the other players, it would depend on who’s available on the wire and the context of the other team’s lineup. Out of Strip, Clev, or Pivetta, I’d probably part with Pivetta. You should figure out who he wants first, though, and work from there.

      • The Shoe says:
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        @Son: Hi Son, I’m in a points league (where wins are +6 and losses -3). I agree on stud pitchers being more important in points league. The number one team in my league is my opposite in that his pitching staff is loaded (Kluber, Sale, Berrios, Kershaw, etc.). I feel I’ll improve my chances of taking him and others down come the playoffs if I can just get one more sure-fire ace in my rotation. At the same time, I do think my staff would be underrated by people focusing on name recognition and would be fine tinkering with it mainly through the waiver wire.

        I dig the Posey idea overall but am slightly hesitant to part with him because of his great K:BB numbers (Ks are -1 in my league). To give you an idea of the waiver wire choices, I’d be looking at guys like Yan Gomes, Barnhart, and Flowers to replace Posey. Still, I think I can warm up to trading him, and he could help in off-setting the pitcher value I have to send over due to his name recognition.

        If I’m trading Posey, I probably wouldn’t trade Quintana, but how do you feel about Quintana anyhow? Top ___ pitcher ROS? I’ve been meh on him this season after having really appreciated his consistently solid production over the past several years. Maybe I could propose a Quintana plus Haniger or Merrifield…

        As for Pivetta, it’d be really hard to see him go… You think the upgrade to Snell would be substantial enough to warrant parting with him?

        OK, now I’ve got my head all muddy with trade ideas. The best idea might just be to stand pat after all!

        • Son

          Son says:
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          @The Shoe: I’d replace Posey with Barnhart in a heartbeat. He bats 2nd, switch hitter, good ballpark, decent average, and BB/K is good. I’ve never been a Quintana guy but he does have a relatively high floor. I’m a Pivetta guy so I’d want to keep him. What are the needs of the other team?

          • The Shoe says:
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            @Son: His offense is : J. McCann, Freeman, Gordon, Gallo, Gregorius, JDM, Rosario, Dickerson, Seager, Peralta with B. Anderson on bench and Acuna on DL. His pitching staff is Madbum, Paxton, Freeland, Junis, Mengden, Snell, C. Smith with Davis, Bradley, Melancon, Tepera, and Winkler as RPs.

            In conversations with him, he sees Snell as a bright spot on a struggling fantasy team, so he’s rightfully hesitant to trade Snell away.

            • Son

              Son says:
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              @The Shoe: I’d it a keeper league? Sorry if that’s been said before.

              The only pitchers I’d want are Snell and Paxton. See how he values Posey and your other pitchers. Price discovery those guys and negotiate from there

              • The Shoe says:
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                @Son: Yah, keeper league, 4 per year. Snell can be kept for $10 which is a pretty good deal.

                I’ll see what he thinks about Posey. Posey AND Quintana is too much for Snell right?

                • Son

                  Son says:
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                  @The Shoe: Probably, but I don’t value Posey that highly

                  • The Shoe says:
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                    @Son: Many Many thanks for all the time and insights you’ve shared with me. Peace!

                    • Son

                      Son says:
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                      @The Shoe: Anytime! Good luck

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