For the previous Steamer and I reviews, I separated the two players into their own recaps, as there was simply too much to discuss for one post. However, for the motley pair of Shane Greene and Jesse Hahn, this is unfortunately not going to be a problem. You see, both of them saw their seasons cut short by injury and one of them was so bad that including his name as part of the title of an article will do little to motivate potential readers from clicking. So, combined they are.
For both of these pitchers, I was significantly more bullish than Steamer was. That’s not too surprising, as both are young pitchers who were not heavily hyped prospects, but posted strong skills during their 2014 debuts. Steamer didn’t believe that performance was real, while I was more optimistic.
It is not an exaggeration to call 2015 a disaster for Greene. After allowing just one run over his last three starts, he proceeded to allow 20 runs over his next three and mixed in a string of seven starts in which he allowed 37 combined runs, including a game in which he gave up five homers. But that wasn’t all. Aside from the poor results, he suffered through an elbow injury, a demotion to Triple-A and the Tigers bullpen after his recall from said minor league stint, a return to Triple-A, and finally a right hand issue that resulted in surgery. That latter problem most likely led to his poor performance, which almost makes this Steamer and I comparison rather pointless.
His control actually improved and beat both of our projections, but the injury may have caused the dip in fastball velocity, which tumbled by more than a mile per hour. That loss of velocity helped cut the SwStk% on his two-seamer in half, while reducing the effectiveness of both his slider and curve ball, both of which lost some swing and miss ability.
Let’s hope the surgery was the full explanation behind his troubles. When healthy, he boasted a ground ball profile and two good non-fastball pitches. If he gets another shot in the Tigers rotation and reports are he’s healthy (plus his velocity returns), he could be a nice free agent pool find.
Like Greene, Hahn’s season ended prematurely thanks to an injury. But Hahn’s was much more worrisome. He was shut down in early July due to right elbow discomfort, which was later revealed to be a forearm strain after an MRI. That is often a precursor to TJ surgery, but supposedly no structural damage was found. Still, it’s a major concern for the future.
While he was healthy enough to pitch, he actually performed quite well. Though his strikeout rate collapsed upon his move to the American League, his control improved dramatically and he continued to induce lots of ground balls. Magically, he was also able to sustain a below league average BABIP, despite allowing a hefty line drive rate, inducing tons of grounders that would typically fall for a hit more frequently than a fly ball, and was poor at generating pop-ups. His batted ball profile screams an inflated BABIP, not a suppressed one!
Hahn’s fastball velocity jumped over a mile per hour, but the SwStk% on his two-seamer actually declined. Furthermore, his excellent curve ball of 2014 failed to make an appearance in 2015. So more fastball that induced fewer whiffs plus less curve balls that were also less whifftastic is a recipe for a strikeout rate that plummets.
Both projection systems called for a decline in strikeout rate, but that was obvious given the switch in leagues. Steamer was more pessimistic and was proven correct, but Hahn surprised us all with the improved control.
Given his health issues, he’s going to be a major risk next year. But given his skill set and potential for better, plus his home park, he might remain an asset for as long as he remains off the DL.
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.