Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Free Agent Watch: Ryan Rowland-Smith

Ryan Rowland-Smith spent 2011 with the Astros organization, and as bad as the Astros were, he was never brought up. In his Major League career (all with Seattle), he has a -.2 WAR. This is all because of his awful 2010 season where he had a -3.5 WAR. Previous to that, he had a 3.3 WAR in 253.1 innings. In 2010, his PE was as putrid as his WAR at 7.582. In his 3 previous seasons, he had a PE of 1.353, not great but not bad. So what was the difference? Many baseball stats people will say that ERAs will change, but strikeout totals and WHIP usually doesn't change much for a pitcher year to year. With Rowland-Smith, that isn't true, as he had a 1.303 WHIP in his first 3 seasons and then changed to a 1.692 in 2010. Similarly, he went from a 6.1 K/9IP in his first 3 seasons, and then dropped to a 4 K/9IP in 2010. This, and the fact that his BABIP (.304) was around league average in 2010, points to something fundamentally changing in Rowland-Smith. For his career,  his TR is a pitiful 6.86, and in 2010 it must have set some kind of record for futility at 2.84. This really leaves us to throw up our hands and ask what kind of pitcher Rowland-Smith actually is. Just looking at his overall Major League numbers, it seems that he really wasn't all that great anyway, and the house of cards all came crashing down. However, it does make some sense to look at his AAA PCL numbers with the Astros organization in 2011. He threw 104.2 innings, so it is a good sample size. His PE was 3.38, and his adjusted PE was 2.03. Both of these numbers are pretty bad. His ERA was 6.19, and even though he suffered from a .350 BABIP, his FIP was still 4.84. So even if the world was fair, his AAA ERA would still nearly be 5, absolutely unacceptable. Incidentally, his SIERA (skill independent ERA, mainly just another formula for FIP) is 4.84 for the Majors (his FIP is 4.97). This isn't very good, but the eternal optimist would argue it is not irredeemable. Certainly it is worth bringing guys like this in to spring training on a low risk type basis, but I don't think you can really expect much of anything from Rowland-Smith.

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