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August 27, 2013

What You Need to Know

The Other Way in Which Zack Greinke is Good

by Andrew Koo, Chris Mosch and Satchel Price


Monday Takeaway
Given his sterling 2.86 ERA after shutting down Chicago on Monday night, explaining the greatness of Dodgers starter Zack Greinke comes pretty easy. Even with declining velocity—his average fastball has dropped from 94 mph to 91.7 mph since 2007—few pitchers consistently contribute at the same level.

But in 2013, there’s an aspect of Greinke’s performance that cannot be ignored. After going 1-for-2 with a walk against the Cubs on Monday, the Dodgers starter is now hitting .340/.426/.383 this season. He’s not merely baseball’s only starting pitcher posting better-than-average hitting numbers, he’s leaps and bounds ahead of his peers.

Unlike many of the best-hitting pitchers in baseball, Greinke doesn’t succeed by flailing for the occasional home run. He looks shockingly in control at the plate, which seems even more unlikely when you consider the years he spent in Kansas City not taking hacks.

Greinke’s improvement at the plate is reflected most clearly by his 10.2 percent strikeout rate. While most pitchers hack away, Greinke and Barry Zito are the only starters with K rates below 20 percent this season. But unlike Zito, who has just five hits in 41 plate appearances, Greinke actually makes decent contact frequently enough to do some damage.

Entering Tuesday’s action, Greinke leads all MLB pitchers in both hits and walks. Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Mike Trout are the only players in the sport getting on base at a higher clip. This is practically a master class on not wasting the final spot in the batting order.

Even considering the low expectations, most pitchers don’t separate themselves from the pack on offense. Over the course of the season, they’ll get the occasional hit, or even a homer or two, but ultimately we’re talking about only a few runs above or below replacement. But with Greinke, we’re seeing such a high level of hitting performance that it will almost undoubtedly affect his year-end value to the tune of more than a win.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (08/27)
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