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Dan Dickerson weighs in on the Jordan Zimmermann signing using sabermetric analysis

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Tigers play-by-play announcer Dan Dickerson had some good things to say on Twitter about the Jordan Zimmermann signing, and when Dan starts digging around on Baseball Reference, it's worth paying attention.

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Our favorite "voice of summer" on the Tigers Radio Network, Dan Dickerson, stopped in on Twitter to make a few comments about the signing of Jordan Zimmermann. For those not familiar with Dickerson: first of all, you're doing everything wrong and you should question your life choices up to this point. Second, Dickerson is a long-time student and lover of advanced metrics, and regularly peppers his play-by-play breaks with stats and facts about strikeout-to-walk ratios, WAR, defensive runs saved, ballpark factors, home and road splits, FIP, and other such goodies.

In short, when Dan Dickerson registers his opinion on a free agent signing like this and uses sabermetrics, it's probably a good idea to take notes.

Here are the highlights:

  • Zimmermann has a career average of 32 starts per year in four full seasons since his Tommy John surgery in 2009
  • Over the last five years, Zimmermann has a 3.14 ERA with BB/9 of 1.7 and a K/9 of 7.3
  • Although Zimmermann posted a career-high 3.66 ERA in 2015, he kept his walk rate low
  • His strikeout numbers were down in 2015 compared to the year before, but were still "right at career rate"
  • Zimmermann gave up 24 home runs in 2015, another career high, but over the past four seasons has averaged 17 home runs per year
  • Despite all the home runs in 2015, his extra-base numbers went down to a career-low 25 percent
  • "The thing you really like – he’s a strike-thrower. And guys who throw a ton of strikes tend to have success – and consistency year to year."
  • Zimmermann's strike-throwing percent in 2015 was 68%, which puts him in the top 15 starters in baseball, a list that included "Scherzer, deGrom, Price, Lackey, Sale, Harvey and Kershaw"
  • "The collective ERA of the top 15 strike throwers in the [majors] was 3.23, which just happens to be the same as Zimmermann's career ERA"
  • Addressing the concern that "many believe the shelf life of the [Tommy John] repaired elbow is roughly 7-8 yrs," Dickerson noted that "the guy the surgery was named after pitched 14 yrs/2500 innings AFTER his surgery."
  • Additionally, "other pitchers who've pitched a long time after [Tommy John] surgery - AJ Burnett (12 yrs/2200IP), and David Wells (23 years - had surgery in [the minors])"

When your team's play-by-play announcer goes hunting for stats on Baseball Reference, it's a good thing.

Here is a list of the top 15 starting pitchers in 2015 (ERA-title qualified only) by strike-throwing percentage, courtesy of Baseball Reference.

Rk Player Str% Year Age Tm GS IP ERA FIP ERA+
1 Max Scherzer 71% 2015 30 WSN 33 228.2 2.79 2.77 143
2 Bartolo Colon 70% 2015 42 NYM 31 194.2 4.16 3.84 89
3 David Price 69% 2015 29 TOT 32 220.1 2.45 2.78 161
4 Matt Harvey 68% 2015 26 NYM 29 189.1 2.71 3.05 136
5 Clayton Kershaw 68% 2015 27 LAD 33 232.2 2.13 1.99 175
6 John Lackey 68% 2015 36 STL 33 218.0 2.77 3.57 142
7 Jacob deGrom 68% 2015 27 NYM 30 191.0 2.54 2.70 145
8 Wei-Yin Chen 68% 2015 29 BAL 31 191.1 3.34 4.16 124
9 Corey Kluber 68% 2015 29 CLE 32 222.0 3.49 2.97 122
10 Jordan Zimmermann 68% 2015 29 WSN 33 201.2 3.66 3.75 109
11 Carlos Carrasco 68% 2015 28 CLE 30 183.2 3.63 2.84 118
12 Chris Sale 68% 2015 26 CHW 31 208.2 3.41 2.73 114
13 Jeff Samardzija 67% 2015 30 CHW 32 214.0 4.96 4.23 79
14 Madison Bumgarner 67% 2015 25 SFG 32 218.1 2.93 2.87 129
15 Mike Leake 66% 2015 27 TOT 30 192.0 3.70 4.20 106