Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eye on 2013: Scott Diamond

Scott Diamond is visited on the mound Sunday by
pitching coach Rick Anderson and catcher Ryan Doumit.
(The Detroit AP identified the coach as Joe Vavra, but we
all know better than that.)
Scott Diamond is the one sure bet to be in the Twins 2013 starting rotation, the leader in the clubhouse for the Opening Day start.

But Sunday's sterling performance against Detroit was his first quality start in more than a month. His recent struggles have given credence to the notion that he's more cubic zirconia than diamond. (Stop groaning.)

Diamond has two very real strengths: He avoid walks (his 1.68 walks per nine innings is the best among American League qualifiers) and he gets ground balls (ninth in the majors in groundball/flyball ratio among 92 qualifiers, according to Baseball Reference; all stats through Sunday's games).

He also has a major red flag: his strikeout rate is 89th among those same 92 qualifiers.

One interesting aspect to Diamond's 2012 season has been his ability to get double plays. He has had, according to Baseball Reference, 108 "opportunities" — a runner on first with less than two outs — and has induced 24 GIDP. That's 22 percent — double the major league average of 11 percent, and easily the highest among the 92 qualifiers.

I don't know that Diamond, or any pitcher, can "turn up" his ground ball rate when he's in a double-play situation. I think it's much like hitting in RBI situations — if you hit for a good average to start with, you'll hit for a good average with runners on second and/or third. Diamond is a ground ball pitcher, and he gets ground balls whether or not there's a man on first. 

One neutral stat on Diamond of note: His BABIP, or Batting Average on Balls In Play, is neither high nor low. It's right around major league average, which suggests that he's been neither lucky nor unlucky.

In other words, what we've seen is a pretty good indication of what we'll get in future seasons.

That's not an ace. but it is a quality starter.

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