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MLB Los Angeles Dodgers

Rant Sports MLB Top 50 Players of 2014: No. 17 Zack Greinke

Zack Greinke

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers knew they were extremely close to competing for a World Series title entering last offseason. They had tons of money and were ready to pay any price to improve their roster to push them over the top. They proved that when they signed starting pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $159 million contract.

In his first season with the Dodgers Greinke certainly lived up to his contract — if it’s even possible to live up to a $19 million salary. Due to an altercation with San Diego Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin, Greinke missed a bit of time on the disabled list with a broken collarbone. Nonetheless, he did pitch 177.2 innings in 2013 with a 2.63 ERA. Greinke had his usual decent control, but for some reason his strikeouts were a bit down this year.

Greinke went 15-4 in 2013. He allowed just 2.33 BB/9 and compiled 7.50 K/9. A huge reason for his success last season was that he kept ball in the ballpark as he allowed just 0.66 HR/9. It would appear he was helped a bit by luck in 2013. Opposing hitters had a BABIP of just .276 against Greinke, the second lowest opponent BABIP in his career. That could mean two things: Either he is forcing a lot of very weak contact or his defense is positioned perfectly and getting to everything put in play. He also had an extremely high 80.8 strand rate in 2013, a number that probably won’t be sustainable moving forward. According to Greinke’s 3.45 xFIP he was helped a lot by his defense and by luck.

I look at the two types of statistics, traditional and saber-metric, differently. Traditional stats show past performance and saber-metric stats predict future performance. Greinke was dominant in 2013 according to traditional stats, but the saber-metrics say we can expect a bit of a regression for him moving forward. Based on the 2013 year that he had, however, it would be ridiculous to leave him out of the top 20 players in MLB.