Round One: You pick the next Houston Astros free-agent signing
While we are waiting for the next Houston Astros offseason move, let’s get the fans involved and help give Jeff Luhnow ideas. I am not naive enough to think that Luhnow will actually take this advice; buts let’s give it a shot. I will present the best case for both sides; then you will vote and choose the best free agent starter the Astros should sign. Then we will go to round two a pit two more free agents against each other.
We will play internet GM, for round one lets put Doug Fister up against Mike Leake. .When comparing the two players, consider that we are looking for a fourth or fifth starter. Leake might demand a little more in terms of dollar value and length of the contract. Someone will give these two a chance, which one would you vote for?
Age and Experience
The 6’8” Fister is a 31-year-old right-hander is entering his seventh big league season. Fister has bounced around between the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, and Washington Nationals. Fister was drafted in the seventh-round of the 2006 MLB draft, making his debut for the 2009 season.
The 5’10” Leake is 28-year-old right-hand who is also entering his seventh year of service time. If Leake and Fister have the same MLB experience, why the three-year age difference? The Answer is clear, Leake was drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, was in the opening day rotation in 2010. He did not pitch an inning in the minors if you don’t count his 2009 stint in the Arizona Fall League minor league ball. Being the 7th pick overall with his college experience made him the perfect candidate to make a quick debut like Mark Appel was supposed to do.
In Fister’s career, he averaged about 1.8 walks per nine innings pitched. Leake has been a little more on the wild side with 2.3 walks per nine innings. We will get into more of their stuff later, but Fister relies more on his strike zone management to be successful. Let’s look a little deeper into their stats through Fangraphs.
While neither of the two pitchers is what you would call strikeout pitchers, they do get a few. Before we look at their strikeout ability, let’s take a look at what stuff they feature on the mound.
As you can tell, they throw pitches at different speeds, but almost have an identical career strikeout per nine innings rate. With the exception of the slider, Leake throws all his pitches faster than Fister. The difference in the two styles could favor Fister with his ability to get outs throwing pitchers pitches.
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As you can see in the control section, Fister attacks the strike zone at a higher rates. The contact percentages of swing at all pitches favors Fister as well with his 84.8% rate compared to Leake’s 86.5%. Leake had the better ground ball percentages with 50.2% compared to Fister’s 48.8%.
In the final part of this analysis, let’s take a look at the stats from their most recent season. Fister had a disappointing 2015 following a 16 win season in 2014. Leake had a very similar season in 2014 to what he had in 2015, so you know what you will get with Leake.
It obvious when you look at the 2015 stats versus their career stats that Fister could be not the right choice for the Astros. But some people could point to the Nationals team as a distraction in 2015, so maybe a change of scenery would do him good.
You make your choice, Astros fans, which of the two pitchers could you choose if you were Jeff Luhnow?
**All Stats from Baseball-Reference and/or Fangraphs**