The Great Regression
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Several pitchers who were extremely fortunate in 2013 are about to experience the cold slap of regression.

I don't want to be around when the horseshoes, rabbits' feet and four-leaf clovers stop working.

A.J. Griffin, Oakland Athletics - No pitcher gave up more homers than the 36 Griffin allowed last season, but the damage wasn't reflected in his ERA because 25 of the shots were of the solo variety. The flyball-inducing Griffin was aided by a .242 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), as it led to fewer men on base in front of the round-trippers. The Athletics right-hander ended up going 14-10 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, but he had a 4.55 FIP.

Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles - Tillman wasn't far behind Griffin in his generosity shown to opposing batters, as he served up 33 taters. However, 23 of them were solo shots due to a .269 BABIP. Avoiding two- and three-run blasts was even more of a Houdini act for Tillman than it was for Griffin because he issued 2.97 free passes per nine innings compared to Griffin's 2.43. The O's right-hander won 16 games with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 206 1/3 innings, but he too had a FIP in the mid-fours (4.42).

Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs - When 2013 started, Wood was the last person you would have tabbed as the Cubs' ace, but the team traded Matt Garza and Scott Feldman, Edwin Jackson went 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA and Jeff Samardzija took a slight step back from 2012. Wood, meanwhile, led the Cubbies with nine wins and posted a 3.11 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in 200 innings. But Wood had the third lowest BABIP among qualified starters with a .248 mark, and just six of his 18 homers allowed came with men on base. Wood is an extreme flyball pitcher who keeps the ball in the park (career 8.3% HR/FB, 6.9% HR/FB in 2013), so he's going to post a lower BABIP than most, but he's due for some regression in that category after two years with a BABIP below .250. The left-hander isn't overpowering (career 6.77 K/9, 89 mph fastball), doesn't possess great location (career 2.96 BB/9) and hasn't shown much improvement in either area the last three seasons so there's no guarantee he'll continue to limit the longball. Just two years ago Wood had a 12.7 percent HR/FB and allowed 1.44 HR/9. While that appears to be an outlier, it shows that flyball pitchers often are walking a fine line between an out and a souvenir.

Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado Rockies - After throwing just 69 2/3 innings across 2011 and 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, De La Rosa had a bounce-back 2013 with 16 wins, a 3.49 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. However, after striking out 8.82 batters per nine innings from 2008-11, the left-hander's K/9 in 2013 was just 6.01 and it came with a 3.33 BB/9. He somehow gave up just 11 home runs in 167 2/3 innings despite pitching half his games at Coors Field. In fact, he served up only three round-trippers in 81 2/3 innings in the thin air of Colorado. His 4.5 percent HR/FB at home will not be repeated in 2013. De La Rosa's .303 BABIP was right around league average, but it probably should have been higher considering he had the highest line-drive rate in baseball (25.1%).




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.