May 1, 2011 at 4:44 am by Ben Duronio under Atlanta Braves, Site News
Note: I’m very pleased and excited to announce that Ben Duronio is going to be contributing to CAC regularly. You’ve probably read something Ben has written even if you don’t know it, he’s contributed to several online outlets over the past few years. Most recently he worked for ESPN Stats and Info Group. I’m confident you’ll enjoy his work and it’s great to have another excellent writer aboard. You can read more about Ben at the bottom of this page.
Note about the note: We’re still working on getting his email address operational, I’ll let you know when that occurs.
Brandon Beachy has looked a lot better than most expected. Each of the team’s starters has pitched very well, but Beachy’s performance has probably been the most surprising – depending on what exactly you think of Jair Jurrjens.
The notion that his stuff is ordinary or marginally better than that has been, more-or-less, disproven. He currently has the hardest average fastball of any starter on the team. Not that the Braves are full of flame throwing starters, but this is a relatively surprising number. Despite averaging close to 92 mph with his four-seamer, the placement and command of the pitch is probably the biggest reason for his success to date. The combination of four-seam command and power, as well as being able to control his secondary offerings, are rare attributes for a starter with as little experience as Brandon has.
His mound presence, maturity, and pitching intelligence all seem to be positive qualities as well. These are intangible assets, but are assets that good pitchers often have.
In terms of tangible assets, he has also graded out well. A 36-10 K/BB ratio is astounding and unexpected. Typically, a 2-1 ratio is solid. In all but one start, Beachy has struck out at least twice as many batters as he has walked. Expanding on that number, he has walked more than two batters in only one appearance. This is through six starts over 36.1 innings, which is roughly 20% of his expected innings total. This does not seem to be the product of a small sample size.
Of the other four qualified rookie starters, Michael Pineda, Zach Britton, Kyle Drabek, and Jeremy Hellickson, Beachy’s 3.60 K/BB ratio is by far the best. All of those pitchers, aside from Beachy, were ranked as top 30 overall prospects by Baseball America entering the season. His ERA is a far cry from Pineda’s 2.01 mark or Britton’s 2.84, but if he is able to sustain similar strikeout and walk rates, he would be more likely to sustain a high level of success than the other aforementioned pitchers – all things being equal.
One worry is the amount of home runs he has allowed. In four of the six starts he has made, a homer has been hit. However, Buster Posey, Rickie Weeks, and Gaby Sanchez are all quality hitters – Brian Schneider hit the other and he most certainly is not. Beachy had no home run problems at any minor league stop – his next home run allowed will tie him for most in any season – so more experience at this level may be the easiest way to cure the only weakness that has been apparent in his short Major League tenure.
Surprisingly, he has performed as well as any of the top rookie pitchers in baseball. Aside from a small expected rise in his balls in play average, a large regression is not foreseeable.