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53-49, Thoughts On Garrett Olson


  • It's weird to think about just months after supporting the trade to get him, but Garrett Olson really has nothing going in his favor. He doesn't miss bats. He doesn't get groundballs. He doesn't hit his targets. He doesn't have a good fastball. Most big league starter scouting reports don't begin with "Ryan Feierabend without the changeup," but that's what Olson's looked like, and though his breaking ball is kind of neat, it's hardly extraordinary, and certainly not enough to save the whole package. What a strange repertoire for a former top prospect. With a lot of work, he's a decent #4. 

  • Between three levels back in 2006-2007, Olson walked 89 and struck out 282 in 293.2 innings. His K/BB in AAA was over 3. The numbers are certainly there to justify his former standing. If something's changed, I want to know what it was. If nothing's changed, I want to know why scouts were high on him. It's just - I'm trying to look at Olson objectively without focusing on his results, and objectively, what's there? If something isn't there that used to be there, what was it? 

  • To me, visually, Garrett Olson doesn't look like a baseball player so much as he looks like an actor. And Amaury Nolasco doesn't look like an actor so much as he looks like a baseball player. You thinking what I'm thinking?

  • Garrett Olson is why people who're new to statistics have so much trouble making sense of regression as it relates to HR/FB%. Olson has allowed 113 fly balls this season. He's also allowed 18 home runs, for a HR/FB% of 16%. That rate is unusually high, and over time we would expect it to trend closer to 10-12%. However, when you watch him pitch and you see him give up a longball, you always feel like he deserved it, like he just has the sort of stuff that ML hitters like to deposit over the wall. It can be hard to understand. Hell, even I'm sitting here thinking "16%? That's it?" But what's important to keep in mind is that, just last year, when Olson was the same disappointing pitcher, his HR/FB% was 9.5%. Olson, right now, is bad, but he's not this bad. Whether the home runs have been the result of bad pitching, bad luck, or both, their continuing at this rate is unsustainable, and they've made him look worse than he really is. No one in the bigs deserves that sort of tRA.

  • What's remarkable about Don Wakamatsu is that I bet he'll still find a way to say something positive about Olson, even after his third straight abbreviated start. Lesson being, make one awesome relief appearance with the bases loaded and Don will forever have your back.

  • As of this writing, the M's can drop Olson from the rotation and replace him with Snell. However, in the event of a Washburn trade tomorrow, then there's an open slot with Olson, Jakubauskas, Morrow, and Fister as the candidates. Let's assume that Morrow's not an option. That leaves Olson, Jak, and Fister. Fans are getting sick of Olson, and Jak has settled into the if-I-only-pitch-in-ugly-losses-then-no-one-will-notice-I-suck long relief role in the bullpen. That leaves Fister as the popular choice. The danger, though, is that Fister doesn't have a repertoire either, he doesn't get many grounders, and his swinging strike rate is one of the lowest in the PCL. So, while a lot of people will likely clamor for Fister to get a chance should Washburn go away, it all likelihood it would just be a change for the sake of making a change, as opposed to a change for the better. (Post-Washburn trade update: resolved!)