This one word has thousands of nerdy stat heads and fantasy addicts giddy about the soon-to-be call up of Arizona Diamondbacks pitching phenom Trevor Bauer. But how excited should we really be? First off, I’ve been a big Bauer fan ever since he hit the main stage in college. He should have easily been the number-one player taken in last year’s draft; however, his unique work regimen, as well as his pitching style, scared off some teams. Now, he is on the brink of coming up to the big leagues (as a starter, I presume). Before we go running to drop quality players or trade the farm away for one half season of Bauer, let’s dive into his numbers.
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Before we jump into his walk rate, let’s take a look at the stat that jumps out at me the most: Bauer’s LOB % or left on base percentage. Presumably, Bauer would be taking Joe Saunders’ spot in the starting rotation. Saunders has a 3.65 ERA with a 4.25 xFIP and a 74.9 LOB %. The average for LOB % for the past few years has been around 72%; however, Bauer’s LOB %, in triple-A nonetheless, is an unsustainable 81.7%!
Now, onto his walk rate. Bauer himself will be the first to admit his control has been spotty at times. Regardless, his BB/9 has went from 4.84 BB/9 in double-A (8 GS) down to 4.32 in triple-A (4 GS) which shows he is adjusting to the pro-game, just not as fast as we all had hoped for. With any young pitcher entering the bigs for the first time, as most of us have found out the very very painful way, control is a very important stat. Averaging nearly five walks a game will not cut it at the highest level. Hopefully, he is just flat-out bored (like Bryce Harper obviously was) in the minors and gets his shit (aka his control) together.
I believe a high LOB % coupled with control issues may make Bauer’s eventual call-up to the bigs a brief one. I’ll be the first to admit the 11.16 K/9 in triple-A definitely grabs my attention, as well as the recently deceased Tim Lincecum (note: he’s not dead, just his career as an elite pitcher) comparisons. But even Lincecum struggled in his first season up. In 24 starts, he posted a 4.00 ERA (3.81 xFIP) with 9.23 K/9 and a 4.0 BB/9. Not the dominating stats we are dreaming for in Bauer, I assume.
For my own selfish reasons, I want Bauer to succeed beyond the already high expectations placed on him (I own him in my long-time keeper league where we draft two minor league keepers). Regardless, I think for this season, we must temper our expectations for this phenom. I would rather have him (and his upside) over guys like Roy Oswalt and Homer Bailey (two guys who are the “hot” pickups that should not be) but I would rather have guys like Ryan Vogelsong and Brandon McCarthy (more proven commodities that are “hot” and should be owned). In the end, Bauer should be a player that everyone in keeper leagues targets but non-keeper leagues should stay away.
Bonus: Check out Bauer’s pregame warm-up routine.