Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is There Hope for Luke Hochevar?

As long as Dayton Moore is the GM, I am not optimistic about the Royals chances of being a contending team. Time and time again, Moore has proven he has no idea how to go about building a competitive team. But I am not so cynical about the Royals that I don't see the few bright spots, even when they are not obvious. One of these bright spots is former #1 draft choice Luke Hochevar. Many Royals fans will look at Hochevar's 2010 5.65 ERA and write him off as another failed Royals draft pick. But if Hochevar can begin to limit the number of walks he is allowing he could establish himself as a reliable Major League pitcher because he is displaying some solid skills.

Hochevar's current 4.91 BB/9 is alarming but I'm going to assume this is an anomaly and that his true ability is closer to the 2.90 BB/9 he produced in 143 IP in 2009. If Hochevar can begin to find the plate, a lot of his woes will vanish.

A look at some of Hochevar's 2010 numbers shows, in many ways, he is not pitching poorly but has fallen victim to bad luck and poor defense.


If you are not familar with the BABIP statistic, I would suggest you read my previous entry on Angels' pitcher Joe Saunders or the BABIP overview presented on the Sabermetrics Library website. Hochevar's BABIP of .347 shows that he has pitched in very tough luck in 2010. The 49.2% ground ball rate shows that he is doing an excellent job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone and many of those ground balls are getting through the infield. Not much any pitcher can do about that. Unless bad luck follows Hochevar the entire season, things should begin to even out and the ground balls that have been hits will start to become outs.

Hopefully Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman will looked beyond a meaningless statistic like ERA and allow Hochever the opportunity to work out his control issues. If Hochevar can begin to throw strikes and continue to make hitters to hit the ball on the ground, he will a valuable pitcher for the Royals.

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