Jeff Samardizja: Real Deal? Probably Not.

A little while ago at Cubby-Blue, Tim began sifting through some Jeff Samardizja stats, pondering: "Could Jeff "Spellcheck" Samardzija be not terrible?"

Well, considerable both the cash poured into and the time spent cultivating the yet-not-overwhelmingly-successful career of Jeff Samardzija, I certainly should hope he can find a means to become a successful pitcher — and preferably a successful starter.

For his career, F7 has a 4.82 ERA and a 4.70 FIP (fielding independent pitching) — both are not impressive. His problem has long been walks. He has a career walk rate of 5.48 BB/9 (walks per nine innings). League average is close to 3.10. That's about two and a half extra walks per complete game.

On top of that, his strikeout rate had been pedestrian up until the 2011 season. In 2009 and 2010, he was striking out 4 to 5 batters per nine, but now he's pushed his stats up to an impressive 9.18 K/9 (league average is around 7.00).

These are good signs. The only troubling sign is his home runs, which are at a career low rate per fly ball. Typically, a pitcher HR/FB ratio stays the same, and for starters, it stays around 10%. Relievers have a bit more control over the rate, but despite that, Samardzija is still about 3% lower than his career rate, sporting a 5.1% HR/FB.

If this new rate is indeed a change in his skills, then we can expect the present 3.46 ERA / 3.74 FIP Samardzija to continue along at just a bit better than league average. However, if his rate reverts to league average of his career norm (7.9% HR/FB) then he will be much nearer his xFIP (expected FIP), which is 4.38 and well below league average.

One way the Cubs could optimize his usage is make him a ROOGY — even this year, Samardzija has would as many lefties (a whopping 8.28 BB/9) as he's struck out (8.64 K/9). Clearly his pitches are not deceiving left-handed batters. His xFIP against lefties is 5.76, while he sports a nice 3.57 xFIP against righties.

Of course, maybe his pitches are are able to keep lefties in the park (thus a high xFIP, but low FIP)? And maybe he's established a means of keeping all his fly balls in the park? Maybe this is the Real Deal?

It's hard to say, but to declare a Jeff Samardzija rebirth now might be a little premature.

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