What if: David Price

David Price finished 2009 with a 1.35 whip, and a 4.42 ERA. Certainly not bad for a rookie, but for Price, he didn’t live up to the hype.

I’m going to start by saying, without going into details, he’s not Mark Prior, he’s David Price. He didn’t have a 3.8 K/BB rate in his rookie season, and it won’t be 4.9 next year. Now, what does David Price need to be a legitimate ace starter?

Unfortunately I can’t say less bad luck. He had a .282 babip and an 11.1% HR/FB.

There are three areas where Price is barely above average or below. 7.15 K/9, 3.79 BB/9, and 41.5% GB%. These numbers fall between his mlb and minor league numbers. So how much difference can a reasonable improvement in these three categories make? I’m more inclined to expect a rise in K’s than a fall in BBs. In the minor leagues he posted fairly good GB rates so I think he can improve here too.

I’ll give him 2010 numbers of 3 BB/9, 8K/9 and 44% GB rate and 36% FB rate. Where will his numbers be if all else stays the same? For the sake of calculations, I’ll keep his IP the same, since I’m working in rates instead of totals, it won’t matter.

He’ll have 11 less walks and 12 more strikeouts. For simplicity, I’ll say his 11 walks will become 11 strikeouts, and ignore the remainder. That will add 3.2 IP. With 11 less walks in a few more innings, his whip goes from 1.35 to a very impressive 1.23. Earlier I said 8K/9, with the extra innings, and ignoring that 1 K, this is actually only 7.7K/9. The effect on ERA? I don’t believe an accurate ERA calculator exists, so I’m more inclined to work with rough estimates, not to mention how much easier it is this way. This knocks off at least a point off the ERA and puts him at 3.42 (50ER in 132IP).

The flyball total gets reduced by 17, which is 1.6 Homers. Take off another 2 ER and the final ERA is 3.27. I won’t deduct the hits here, since a ground ball is more likely to result in a hit than a flyball. So the 1.6 HR become singles, and those singles would already be included in the whip above. Now we have an ace starter.

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