Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NL King - Player Spotlight - Ian Kennedy

Today we are going to take a look on one player and that's Ian Kennedy. Kennedy is one of the more interesting names in the NL this season. Let's break it down.

Ian Kennedy was a 1st round pick, 21st overall by the Yankees in 2006. Kennedy was then part of the 3 team trade that netted the Yankees Curtis Granderson and sent Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks in the off-season of 2009 heading into 2010. Kennedy has been a part of Arizona's starting staff for the last 3 years, here are his stats.

2010  -  9-10, 3.80 ERA, 1.20 Ratio (WHIP), 168K, 163 Hits, 70BB, 26HR in 194 IP 
2011 -   21-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 Ratio, 198K, 55BB, 186 Hits, 19HR in 222 IP
2012 -   15-12, 4.02 ERA, 1.30 Ratio, 187K, 55BB, 216 Hits, 28HR in 208 IP.

Breaking down the Stats:
First off Kennedy has been healthy as he has been a pitcher you can count on for 200 innings and a little bit more. Kennedy K's have been consistent the last 2 years as well. So why did Kennedy's numbers get so much worse last year compared to his breakout year in 2011? Well his walks per 9 innings was basically the same that is a good sign going forward however the league hit for a much higher batting average against Kennedy last year compared to his 2 prior years in the desert. Last year the league hit .266 against Kennedy while in 2011 his opponents batting average was .227 in 2011 and .228 in 2012. Not to mention Kennedy gave up 9 more Home Runs last season.

What does it all mean?
When looking at Kennedy's reduction in wins last year it's easy to explain, Kennedy didn't pitch nowhere near as well and the D-Backs went from being an 94 win team to a 81 win team. So the fact that Kennedy still won 15 games is a positive sign. Also Kennedy's walk rate and K rate have been near identical from last season his disappointing year to his break out season in 2011. Another positive sign. Comes down to the league took a very big jump in hitting against Kennedy as his opponents hit 40 points higher last year compared to Kennedy's first two season in Arizona. Now Arizona the ball does travel well so if one is not pitching as effective I can see the increase in Home Runs.

What can we expect for 2013?
I believe worst case scenario Kennedy will at least duplicate last season and be a middle tier starter. However for Kennedy to get back to his level of 2011 he is now going to need to make some minor adjustments as the league and his opponents have done that to him. Unless you have ridiculous stuff this is what major leaguer's have to do and that's make adjustments. One concern I have is a big reason the Yankees were willing to trade Kennedy was they felt he was immature and his attitude needed adjusting. So is Kennedy going to be mature enough to work on his game to get back to his dominant 2011? While I expect improvement from last season I do not expect 2013 to be like Kennedy's breakout season in 2011 where he finished in 4th place in the Cy Young voting. Expect strong wins and K's with good but not great percentage numbers, similar to Yovanni Gallardo.

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NL King - C.Lizza


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