Tempering Our Expectations for Scott Diamond in 2013

Hannah Foslien

Scott Diamond had a solid 2012 season, is it likely that he repeats it in 2013?

Scott Diamond completed his first full season in the majors in 2012, and many people in the Twins community pegged him as the future ace of the ball club. While I admit that he had a nice season, I will say that is unlikely that Diamond ever develops into the ace that everyone wants him too or the one everyone currently thinks he is.

First let's take a little look at some of his PITCHf/x data.

Diamond throws three pitches: a four-seam fastball that averages 89 miles per hour and can touch 91-92, a curveball that averages 82 miles per hour and can touch 84, and finally a change-up that averages 84 and can touch 85-86.

That's not a bad selection of pitches, but since he does not throw particularly hard he has to rely on the movement of his pitches.

Diamond's four-seam fastball doesn't have much movement on it at all, and is essentially dead straight. Even though it lacks movement, he was still able to generate groundballs 56% of the time when he threw that pitch. Going forward that number will probably decline to around the 40-45% mark going forward.

Diamond also struggled at generating swinging strikes. Now, a fastball isn't going to generate a ton of swinging strikes, but Diamond only managed to get swinging strikes 2.5% of the time with that pitch. Another concerning number is the 94% contact% that occurred when Diamond threw his four-seam. It's no secret that the ball will be hit when you throw a fastball, but 94% is a concerning number. For reference, Cliff Lee's contact% with his four-seam fastball was 87% in 2012.

Diamond could also see some struggles with his curveball in 2013 as well. His curve had hardly any movement in 2012, but he still managed to get some respectable results. When batters swung, they whiffed nearly 30% of the time, and hit into groundballs nearly half of the time. The lack of movement with his curve did hurt Diamond in the home-run department though, his HR/FB ratio ended up at nearly 12% at season's end.

On the plus side he did manage to have an above average swinging strike rate though, so hopefully he's able to carry that over to the new campaign.

His change-up looks like it has the potential to be an above-average going forward. His change-up goes away from righties, and in on lefties, which makes sense. He did a solid job at inducing groundballs, getting batters to hit into them nearly half of the time, and did an above average at getting whiffs. His change-up also gave up the fewest amount of home-runs per flyball, so that is also another good sign.

Now let's look at some overall metrics.

Diamond finished the year with a 3.54 ERA, which looks really good, but if we look at FIP we see that he finished at a 3.94 mark. That isn't a bad number, but it is just slightly above average. The main reason for that is Diamond is not a strikeout pitcher at all by any means, and FIP takes three things into consideration: strikes, walks, and home runs. That's it. Diamond's strikeout rate was well below average, but he did an excellent job at limiting walks, which is a big plus. His xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching) was 3.94, so in 2013 it's highly possible that his ERA is around the 4.00 mark.

Diamond is a solid pitcher, but his ceiling is likely a #3 starter at best. While it would be nice if he could repeat (or outperform) his 2012 year, I fail to see how that will happen.

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Thanks to FanGraphs, Brooks Baseball, and Texas Leaguer for the data used in this article.

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