Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Glance at Jordan Lyles Rookie Season

In the midst of the Astros worst season in franchise history, constant change of ownership drama, the trade deadline, and several prospects making the jump from Corpus Christi to the majors, the Astros highly touted prospect Jordan Lyles major league debut was lost in the shuffle this season. Not since Hunter Pence have the Astros had a prospect that has been hyped as much as Jordan Lyles was, whose name was mentioned so much last year that you would have thought he was the Astros own version of Stephen Strasburg. In his 92 innings pitched this year Lyles put up a respectable debut season for a 20 year old, but it was not impressive enough to distinguish himself from the other headlines surrounding the Astros this season. With that being said I decided to look deeper into Jordan Lyles rookie season to see how good he was, and try and see what we can expect out of him going forward.

Here is a look at some of Jordan Lyles stats for the season, and also his career minor league stats as well:

2011 Houston Astros Stats
Pitcher
IP
K/9
BB/9
HR/9
H/9
ERA
FIP
Jordan Lyles
92.2
6.31
2.23
1.36
10.3
5.24
4.48


Career Minor League Stats
Pitcher
IP
K/9
BB/9
HR/9
H/9
ERA
FIP
Jordan Lyles
421
8.9
2.5
0.6
9.2
3.55
N/A


When looking at the two stat-lines side by side the biggest disappointment is that his K/9 ratio dropped from 8.9 to 6.31 this season. His K/9 ratio in AAA this season was also 6.06, which was also a little disappointing considering the solid K/9 ratio he posted at AA the year before of 8.15. This is probably an indication that Lyles could have benefitted from a full year in Oklahoma City this season to work on missing a few more bats.

Lyles ERA also rose from a career total of 3.55 to 5.24 this season, however his FIP for the year sits at 4.48, and his xFIP sits at 4.07 due to the fact that he had an above average HR/9 ratio. Another stat that suggests that Lyles was slightly unlucky this season is that his left on base percentage was 65.6% this season, but was never lower than 72.6% in full season ball. He was also typically billed as a groundball pitcher in the minors, so there is reason to believe that he will raise his GB% from the 40.2% level that it sat at this season.

By looking at his stats for this year we can tell that Lyles had a respectable season, and also that there is reason for hope that his numbers will improve next year. If he is able to reduce the number of hits that he gives up per nine innings while some of his other stats normalize then there is reason to believe that we may soon see the Jordan Lyles that we heard about in the minors. As a little reference point to see how Jordan’s rookie season compares to others of the same age, I generated the chart below.

According to Baseball-Reference, there have been 32 other pitcher’s who have made their major league debut at age 20 since 1980. Of those 32, 12 of them threw 85 innings or more their rookie year. The chart below details the results for those 12 pitchers in their rookie season.

Pitcher
IP
K/9
BB/9
HR/9
ERA
FIP
WAR
CC Sabathia
180.1
8.53
4.74
0.95
4.39
4.22
2.9
Rick Porcello
170.2
4.69
2.74
1.21
3.96
4.77
1.9
Jeremy Bonderman
162
6
3.22
1.28
5.56
4.69
1.4
Zack Greinke
145
6.21
1.61
1.61
3.97
4.7
2.2
Mike Witt
129
5.23
3.28
0.63
3.28
3.69
1.4
Clayton Kershaw
107.2
8.36
4.35
0.92
4.26
4.08
1.4
Steve Avery
99
6.82
4.09
0.64
5.64
3.64
1.7
Jordan Lyles
92.2
6.31
2.23
1.36
5.24
4.48
0.4
Oliver Perez
90
9.4
4.8
1.3
3.5
4.52
0.4
Alex Fernandez
87.2
6.26
3.49
0.62
3.8
3.57
1.5
Jeff D'Amico
86
5.55
3.24
2.2
5.44
6.19
0.3
Gil Meche
85.2
4.94
5.99
0.95
4.73
5.47
0.4


To sum up the graph above, here’s where Jordan Lyles ranks in the categories listed above:

K/9 – 5th
BB/9 – 2nd
HR/9 – 10th
ERA – 10th
FIP – 6th

Quite a few of the pitchers listed on this list are having, or went on to have pretty descent seasons at some point. Only Zach Grienke posted a better walk ratio than Jordan, and he also finished slightly ahead of the middle of the pack in strikeout ratio and FIP as well. However, only Zack Greinke and Jeff D’Amico posted a worse homerun ratio than Lyles, and only Steve Avery and Jeff D’Amico finished with a worse ERA as well.

To sum everything up Jordan did not live up to the hype that surrounded him, but he also was not disappointing in his first full season in the majors as a 20 year old rookie. Given his makeup and composure on the mound, he should be an interesting pitcher to watch in the upcoming seasons.

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