Player Preview: SP Wade Davis

The Ogre From Lake Wales known to some as Wade Davis will be settling into his second season at the Major League level in 2011.  After Scott Kazmir was traded in September of 2009 Wade came up to the big club and immediately started felling opponents to the tune of a 9 strikeout per nine while only walking three per nine.  He gave up a mere two home runs in 36 and a third innings.  Needless to say, Rays fans were enthralled with what this young hoss could do when it came to throwing his low-90’s heater that could approach 95.  (See Chart)

Add in a curveball that looked to have great bite that he could either throw for strikes or out of the zone and he looked to be a pretty serious force to be reckoned with against lefties:

and righties alke:

Coming out of Spring Training in 2010 the story wasn’t quite as glamorous.  I couldn’t think of a better way to put this so here’s Collette’s breakdown:

In the first half of the season, he had a 4.69 ERA, a 5.9 K/9, 18 home runs allowed and a 1.5 K/BB; the second half saw a 3.28 ERA, a 6.2 K/9, just six home runs allowed and a 2.6 K/BB.

He seemed to lack confidence in his secondary pitches early in the season and would try to live off of his two and four seam fastballs.  I like the two-seamer he gets a lot of movement on it and the pitch reminds me of watching Garza pound the outside to lefties with that pitch moving off the plate hard and late.  Here’s a look at his pitcher card from April through June.  And here’s one from July through September.  What I recommend is to open each of these in a separate window.  You can pull both of those up side-by-side and scroll through each to make your comparisons.

You have to love seeing him go from a 13.2% swing strike rate to whiffing 15.8%.  The downside is that he was giving up less ground balls and more line drives and fly balls.  This should remind you of this chart that I used recently that points to league average BABIP-rates:

Less ground balls means he should be giving up less hits, but probably giving up more power.  Think lower batting average at the expense of slugging percentage.  In the first half he saw batters collecting a hit at a clip of .267 on ground balls, .108 on flyballs, and .762 on line drives.  He was getting a bit lucky on his fly balls being tracked down by a solid outfield, but was a bit unlucky on his ground balls and line drives.  In the second half, those rates became .269 on ground balls (essentially just as unlucky), .145 on flyballs (closer to league average), and .667 (.048 points below league average).  Love to see the extra whiffs, but I would hate to see more balls falling in (for extra power) when they do.

Though we can expect his BABIP to regress more towards the league norm this year, it’s not all doom and gloom as he has now been through the league once.  He’s no longer the greenest hombre in the bunch and should have gained a little more knowledge, to go with a pretty solid arm, that I don’t think it’s crazy to see him settle into an FIP in the fours. While upping his strikeouts close to seven per nine and maintaining his walk rate between 3.25 and 3.50 per nine innings.  I do expect him to top 185 innings so let’s say 140 strikeouts, 70 walks, and 25 home runs on the year.  That works out to an FIP of 4.58.

Here’s one some of the leading prognosticators have so far:

Hilarious, amirite?  I’m kind of on the conservative side, though I’m not quite as high as Zips.  Unsurprisingly the fans and Bill James are pretty confident that he’s ready to take a leap forward and I’d love to see it, but so far I’ve really liked the way THT has incorporated Minor League Translations.  So far, I think I like their Oliver projection system the best for this reason.  They have Wade projected for a 4.37 FIP with a slightly lower ERA.  They weren’t quite as optimistic on the innings.  I’m sure Wade’s stop on the DL last year is part of the thinking there.  It seemed to me like they thought he might have been getting a bit of the dead arm.  Re-check that velocity chart up top, good on the team if that’s the case even if the race was tight.  Hopefully he was just hitting the wall and needed a break that he may be able to work through this year.  Re-check his brain getting more convolutions due to the revolution around the sun.

Either way I look forward to following a guy that I love to watch pitch.  He’s kind of a bulldog out there and can really throw the pill when he’s got 3 pitches working.  If he can stay healthy and get a bit of luck we might see a guy that reminds you a bit of Garza.

James Shields

Matt Joyce

B. J. Upton

Jeremy Hellickson

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About Jason Hanselman

Rays fan.
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2 Responses to Player Preview: SP Wade Davis

  1. jimwisinski says:

    I’m probably higher on Davis relative to projections than I am any other player on the Rays this year. I think he’s the second best starting pitcher on the team unless Hellickson manages to pitch for the whole season like he did in his cup of coffee (and Davis himself is a good example of that not being the likely result).

  2. I.Welsh-Art says:

    Wade was one of my favorite Rays pitchers. He is a sleeper to me, when you have him in the same rotation as the young ace, Price, the wild man Garza and the giant Niemann he gets lost in the mix. I don’t know if it’s him being conservative or Hickey’s advice but you can see when he gets close to a walk, he chokes back the type of pitches thrown. But at full count it seems he goes in for the kill sometimes, he builds up confidence. To me he exemplifies what the Rays are, he’s the underdog (I think Shields takes that this season though). I remember watching a game with him pitching with a friend who wasn’t much of a Rays fan, he exclaimed how Davis looked like it took too many pitches that night to get anyone out. But he always has a look of determination, he doesn’t give up, he’s scrappy, I dig that.

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