2022 Pod Projections: Logan Webb — A Review

Today, I’ll review the starting pitcher Pod Projection I shared at the beginning of March. Logan Webb enjoyed a big breakout in 2021, with strikeouts, good control, and enough ground balls to fill a worm’s worst nightmare. So what did he do for an encore and how did his performance compare to the projections? Let’s find out.

Games Started | IP: 30 | 168 Projected | 32 | 192.1 Actual

Webb ended up averaging six innings per start, which was a nice increase from last year’s 5.7 mark. Along with making 32 starts, he turned into a true workhorse ace. There aren’t too many six inning pitchers anymore, so the Giants have to be thrilled.

K%: 24.3% Projected | 20.7% Actual

Well, this was disappointing. His breakout 2021 strikeout rate was fueled by a jump in his sinker velocity and both increased usage of his curveball/slider (slurve) plus a massive increase in its SwStk%. This year, his sinker velocity dropped right back down to pre-2021 levels, but his slurve usage actually increased even further. However, the slurve’s SwStk% dropped from elite to below average, while both his sinker and changeup also suffered declines in the metric. Still, with a healthy 29.3% CSW%, it’s surprising his strikeout rate dropped to below the league average.

BB%: 7.8% Projected | 6.2% Actual

Webb held onto nearly all his control gains from 2021 and even threw a higher percentage of strikes. I wouldn’t be on his walk rate getting any lower, but he feels safe in the 6%-7% range right now.

GB%/LD%/FB%: 55.5% / 21.5% / 23.0% Projected | 56.7% / 19.5% / 23.8% Actual

This projection was pretty darn close, and followed my expectation for some regression off his near 61% GB% in 2021. Such extreme batted ball type rates are obviously difficult to maintain, and sure enough, some of his grounders became fly balls. Still, he was one of the best ground ball pitchers in baseball, though that was a bit less valuable this season with home runs being down. Of course, he also plays in a home park that suppresses home runs, so he didn’t benefit as much from the low FB%.

HR/FB%: 13% Projected | 8.3% Actual

The leaguewide drop in HR/FB rate all but ensured Webb would beat my HR/FB rate projection. He posted a microscopic 3.6% mark at home, so he greatly benefited from its pitcher friendly nature.

BABIP: .310 Projected | .293 Actual

With tons of ground balls and few fly balls, and particularly pop-ups, it’s a bit of a surprise that he managed to post a sub-.300 BABIP. On the other hand, single season BABIP is so fickle, that really any mark between like .280 and .330 shouldn’t turn heads.

Below is my final projected pitching line, along with the other systems for comparison:

Logan Webb Projections vs Actual
Actual 2022 192.1 15 2.90 1.16 163 7.6 2.3 0.51 20.7% 6.2% 19.5% 56.7% 23.8% 0.293
Pod 168 11 3.59 1.25 172 9.2 3.0 0.75 24.3% 7.8% 21.5% 55.5% 23.0% 0.310
ZiPS DC 178 11 3.03 1.14 186 9.4 2.3 0.63 0.314
THE BAT 166 12 3.66 1.28 152 8.3 2.9 0.73 21.7% 7.6% 0.315
ATC 166 11 3.49 1.20 161 8.8 2.6 0.75 23.6% 7.0% 0.310
FGDC 184 12 3.36 1.21 183 8.9 2.6 0.73 0.315
Steamer 189 12 3.66 1.27 179 8.5 2.8 0.83 22.5% 7.4% 20.6% 54.2% 25.3% 0.308
ZiPS 142.7 9 3.03 1.14 149 9.4 2.3 0.63 0.314

Overall, Webb handily outperformed expectations. Steamer came closest on innings pitched, while all of us undershot his win total, which is essentially just a dart throw given how much luck is involved in recording a win or loss.

Webb managed to post a sub-3.00 ERA thanks to a suppressed HR/FB rate, which sat well below the 11.4% league average and 11.8% league average for starting pitchers. While his .293 BABIP was actually slightly worse than the starting pitcher league average, every projection system forecasted a mark of at least .308, so he smashed expectations there. His SIERA was a less impressive 3.56, while his Statcast xERA was 3.59. Both those marks either came close to or actually did match my 3.59 ERA forecast. So with neutral luck, I would have nailed his ERA, but of course, luck plays a major role in the ratios and it’s impossible to predict.

His strikeout rate finished below every system, but his SwStk% and CSW% were still well above his 2019 and 2020 marks, even though his strikeout rate ended up in the same range. So I think he definitely rebounds some next season, though I wouldn’t bet on his 2021 happening again unless his sinker velocity surge returns.

The overall skill set here is strong and pretty safe, with strikeout rate upside that could make him highly skilled in strikeouts, walks, and ground ball rate. That’s the skill triumvirate I salivate over when identifying sleeper candidates to break out, which means he should remain a solid fantasy investment over the next couple of years barring injury.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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1 year ago

I have Webb in a keeper league and was thrilled with him in 21, but he somehow felt like a disappointment in 22. Probably just me being greedy with the Ks; he was brilliant, but I wanted more!