Sabermetrics Weekly with Professor Gorosh: Top 5 in FIP by Affiliate Part 2: Erie SeaWolves

Detroit Tigers Relief Pitcher Robbie Weinhardt (34) - Jim McIsaac

As a part of the Detroit Tigers Prospect Report's comprehensive minor league content base, I'm going to start a weekly sabermetrics article. Now, of course, sabermetrics are not the end all/be all in terms of projection, but I do find them to be a very useful means of studying minor (and major) leaguers and valuing their performance.

You've all seen the scouting side of things here at DTPR, but I thought it would be fun to take at least a surface glance at some sabermetric data, in the hopes of providing you all with a more comprehensive understanding of our prospects and their performance.

Top 5 FIP Series Part 2: Class Double A-Erie SeaWolves

Stats Primer:

Remember from my last article, FIP stands for "Fielding Independent Pitching".

BABIP stands for batting average on balls in play. Or, how often a batter gets a hit on a ball that is put into play, not counting home runs. For example, Austin Jackson had a .420 BABIP his rookie season. The major league average is about .300. It was evident that Austin was going to need to walk more or hit for more power in order to sustain his numbers going forward. This is because balls eventually find fielder’s gloves. Luckily, he has.

Class Double A-Erie SeaWolves:

You don’t need to be a professor to see that Erie was lacking major league talent this season. Go ahead, guess who their best pitcher was. Stumped? If you guessed Robbie Weinhardt, you cheated. Because I know you didn’t guess that. I say this with love in my heart, because I love the Tigers, their prospects, and respect every single one of them, but there is about a 75% chance (save for Rondon) that no pitcher that pitched for Erie this season accumulates 30 IP in the big leagues. For a AA team, Erie was extremely bereft of talent, like no top 50 prospects bad, and that’s unfortunate for the big club in the next couple years.

5) Robbie Weinhardt:

Aforementioned, Weinhardt was the best pitcher in terms of ERA on Erie this season. It’s kind of silly for me to discuss him as a prospect because, in short, he’s not. He enjoyed some big league time for the Tigers in 2010 and 2011, and hasn’t enjoyed much success. Weinhardt is destined for a career minor leaguer ceiling, or if he sells his soul to the devil like Casey Fien did, he may have one year of 25 below major league average innings left. Anyway, Robbie had a nice season in AA this year, including a 2.73 ERA, with a 4.14 FIP in 66 innings, a 1.26 WHIP and .229 BAA. When Erie is a bit better next year and the year after, Robbie should be a contributor to their success.

4) James Avery:

To be 100% honest I know next to nothing about James Avery besides the fact that he used to be in the Reds organization. He’s a 28 year old career minor leaguer. He also was an innings eater for AA this season, threw 158 of them, yet not very effectively. While his FIP at 4.11 was the 4th best on the team, his 4.73 ERA and 186 hits surrendered were below average. Avery surrendered a 1.51 WHIP and .293 BAA, which states to me that he’s relatively easy to hit. I wish I could expound on James, but I just don’t know very much about him.

3) Jared Gayhart:

YAY! KIND OF A PROSPECT! Everyone clap! I’ve seen Gayhart listed as a sleeper prospect a few times since he’s been drafted. As a converted OF, he’s slowly moved up the organizational food chain, posting average numbers (nice FIP’s) along the way. from Rice,, it was evident that his development would take some time. He’s done nicely, With a 4.00 FIP that is a bit below his 4.58 ERA, Gayhart actually struck out some hitters (9.65/9IP) but was unlucky with the home run ball. In the past, Jared has been very good at limiting the big fly. In fact, in his minor league career, spanning about 220 innings before this season, Gayhart had only given up 14 gopher balls. This year in 92 innings, he allowed 11. I’d expect that number to go down next year, and for Gayhart to have some success. His fastball-slider combo could play in the MLB, I’m anxious to see what next year has in store for him.

2) Kenny Faulk:

If I had to guess, Faulk is the most likely to see a big league mound of anyone on Erie. If you’re interested in getting to know more about Kenny, I’ll direct you to our good friends over at motor city bengals, who did a Q&A with him which can be found here. Kenny was drafted out of Kennesaw State, and has put up some awesome numbers in the minor leagues for the Tigers. Progessing slowly through the levels, Faulk has moved up from rookie ball to low A, to high A, and finally this season to AA. He has posted ERA’s of 2.83, 2.16, 2.56, and 4.53 respectively. Faulk has even done this with BABIP’s consistently in the .350 range, which is extremely high. His peripherals look good as well, as he’s struck out 12.03, 11.45, and 10.61 per 9 innings in his last three seasons. Kenny is also good at limiting the home run, as he’s only given up 11 in his minor league career. This season, Faulk threw 57.2 innings with a 3.79 FIP, and struck out 68 while walking 32. The base on balls number is a little high, but I’m genuinely impressed by the K’s. This is another guy I’ll keep my eye on next season, as the 2nd lefty job is up for grabs.

1) Ryan Robowski:

Robowski was acquired for my least favorite pitcher of the last ten years for the Tigers-Armando Galarraga, the nibbling princess. THROW A STRIKE ALREADY! Ugh. Sorry, I won’t get into my disdain for Armando here, it’d take up a lot more room than just this article. Ryan had a nice season for AA Erie, tossing 43 relief innings, striking out 41 and only surrendering 11 walks. He’s generally viewed as a non prospect, but we give credit where credit is due here on TPR, and don’t discriminate. Ryan’s 3.57 FIP matched his 3.32 ERA pretty nicely, and he had a K/BB ratio around above 3, which is a good sign as well. He seems like an organizational soldier, but you never know with left handers, they’re finicky.

That's it for this week. Next week I will take a look at the Advanced-A Lakeland Flying Tigers. As always, feel free to follow the Detroit Tigers Prospect Report on twitter @TigersProspects, and you can follow me personally @JGoro8

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