Fluke or Fact: Adam Wainwright

By mattmilner

Adam Wainwright had an amazing 2009 campaign, posting a 19-8 record and a 2.63 ERA. His peripheral stats were also outstanding. He had an 8.19 K/9, and a 2.55 BB/9 along with a fantastic 1.21 WHIP.  His sabermetric DIPS statistics uphold what the more basic numbers tell us: a 3.11 FIP and a 3.28 tERA are both very good. The question now is whether or not his 2009 was for real or just a fluke.

Wainwright has talent, to be sure, and some would say that 2009 was his the first year of him truly realizing his talent. He battled injuries in 2008 and missed a good portion of the season. Of course, we all remember him being a dominant closer for the Cardinals in 2006, including the playoffs, where he recorded the last 3 outs of the World Series. What worries me going forward is his 100 innings pitched jump from ’08 to ’09. That coupled with what are called “inverted W mechanics” could spell injury for Wainwright this season. Then there are the groundballs. He gave up 50% ground balls in 2009, which is 5% higher than his 2008 and well above his previous career average. His fly ball percentage went down due to the increase in ground balls, and I’m just not sure this will continue. Dave Duncan preaches keeping the ball down in the zone as we saw with Joel Pineiro this past season, but a jump that high doesn’t seem sustainable. I think Wainwright is due for some regression or injury. Fantasy owners beware.

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