(Photo by Jeremy Long - jlongphoto.com)
By Robert Cunningham, AngelsWin.com Staff Writer --
2013 Outlook: So clearly Joe Blanton isn't the "Big Splash" that everyone was thinking of when the Angels acquired a pitcher during the offseason. No one is here to argue that. However, like Hanson, Joe could prove to be a "Value Splash" based on a recent history (since 2010) of increased strikeouts, with the addition of a cutter to his repetoire.
If you take a glance at Joe's numbers from 2010 until now, you'll notice a) his strikeout rate has significantly increased over his career numbers, b) his walk rate has declined significantly over his career numbers, c) his xFIP has decreased significantly over his career numbers, and d) his BABIP has been above his career average. What does all of this indicate?
Upon examination everything points to the cut fastball Blanton has added to his arsenal. The king of the cutter, Mariano Rivera, has used this pitch successfully to tally high K/9 rates and that helps to explain Blanton's increased strikeouts. Additionally the cutter helps to induce weak contact (including broken bats) resulting in more ground balls and less walks. On top of all this his xFIP is saying that if he wasn't giving up an unusual amount of fly balls, the last 3 years, his ERA would significantly improve and, if his BABIP wasn't so high, less of those balls that are hit wouldn't find so many holes in the infield and outfield.
Signing Blanton was a pure statistical value play by Jerry Dipoto. Although it lacks a lot of flash from a fan-perspective, the decision to sign Joe, barring injury, should prove to be a plus for the Angels pitching staff.