Charlie Furbush's (Home-Run-Ignored) Comparables

Charlie Furbush may not be able to rely on his home run rate regressing thanks solely to the law of large(r) numbers. Based on his trouble with hitters pulling the ball*, Furbush might need to make some sort of improvement to cut down his park-adjusted rate to normal. Or he might not because it could be that it's actually his pull% that's a fluke due to regress and when it does so, it'll drag his home run rate down as well like some sort of Italian cruise ship.

*Minor data drop: so far, Furbush actually has a lower pull% from right-handed hitters than left-handed, 67% to 69%. Those are both bad though and the sample sizes are even smaller.

Seeing as I am totally a positive person, I decided to see what pitchers Furbush would resemble should he manage to hold his other stuff stable and simultaneously see a drop in home run rate. Or more precisely, what pitchers is he similar to judging only by his contact, swing, ground ball and strike zone rates? I cribbed this idea off of Dave Cameron's posts that focused on hitters John Jaso and Mike Carp. I enjoyed that and when reading this question on what pitchers Charlie Furbush could resemble if his home run rate were to regress, I thought a similar strategy could be effective.

Year Pitcher xFIP BF K% BB% Cont% Sw% Zone% GB%
2008 Armando Galarraga 4.43 746 16.9 9.0 80.2 45.7 50.0 43.5
2003 Barry Zito 4.85 957 15.3 9.8 81.4 43.1 51.0 39.3
2005 Barry Zito 4.37 953 17.9 10.7 78.6 44.0 50.0 40.9
2009 Brett Cecil 4.62 422 16.4 10.2 81.4 43.1 50.4 42.6
2008 Bronson Arroyo 4.07 871 18.7 8.5 81.0 44.5 50.5 41.5
2009 Chan Ho Park 3.97 362 20.2 10.5 80.7 43.7 51.1 43.9
2003 Freddy Garcia 4.55 862 16.7 9.5 77.3 44.3 49.2 41.0
2007 Jamie Moyer 4.58 867 15.3 8.2 81.5 42.9 49.5 39.4
2007 Jason Hammel 4.97 384 16.7 10.9 79.8 45.3 47.3 40.9
2009 Joe Blanton 4.01 837 19.5 8.0 81.3 43.6 50.1 40.6
2009 Matt Garza 4.14 861 22.0 10.5 80.9 43.9 47.5 39.7
2005 Orlando Hernandez 4.76 568 16.0 10.9 78.9 45.8 51.0 39.2
2008 Pedro Martinez 4.39 493 17.7 10.1 79.9 43.7 50.4 41.0
2005 Sean Douglass 4.62 374 14.7 9.4 79.9 45.6 49.3 42.9
2008 Shaun Marcum 4.19 630 19.5 9.2 77.1 44.8 48.0 43.1
2009 Tommy Hanson 3.97 522 22.2 9.8 77.2 43.2 48.7 40.2

It's a bit of a messy table so here's the 42,500-foot view. Averaging over the whole sample presented here results in a composite pitcher very similar to what Furbush did last year across Detroit and Seattle. For those pitchers, they averaged a little under 2 WAR over the standard 160-inning season. In other words, pretty close to average.

That's not much of a surprise if you looked solely at the three big rates; strikeout, walk and ground ball. Furbush's combined 18% strikeouts, 9% walk (and HBP) and 42% ground balls are nearly spot on league average. Weighting that Furbush faced about 75% of his batters from the rotation, a Major League average slate of those three rates would be, 18%, 9% and 43%. I said it was close! Almost as close as the Costa Concordia came to those rocks.

On a side note, Hector Noesi's Major League numbers last year were quite similar to Furbush's, aside from the home run problem. Noesi ended 2011 with an 18% strikeout rate, 8% walk rate and 42% ground ball rate, though much more in relief than Furbush. How the two perform relative to each other could be an interesting pseudo-race in 2012.

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