Mar 122013
 

By: Dustin Dietz

Despite earning a spot on the 2011 American League All-Star team, and having a successful first year as a starting pitcher, the Texas Rangers moved Alexi Ogando back to the bullpen in 2012 to fill the position of seventh inning set-up man. Ogando pitched well the first couple of months of the ’12 season out of the pen, and when the club was decimated with injuries to the starting rotation in early June, Ogando started a game against the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants. After pitching three perfect innings to begin the game, Ogando suffered a strained right groin while beating out a bunt hit in the top of the fourth inning and was placed on the disabled list shortly afterward. Ogando missed a few weeks and pitched exclusively out of the bullpen the rest of the year.

During the offseason, the Rangers decided to move Ogando back into the starting rotation in 2013, where he is currently projected to be the club’s fourth starter. Many have expressed concern over Ogando’s propensity to wear down in the second half of the season, and his inability to develop an effective third pitch.

Since some have expressed concern in regards to Alexi Ogando, I decided to compare Ogando’s numbers to other projected fourth starters on American League teams perceived to be pennant contenders in 2013. I think the results might be somewhat surprising, and since Ogando is believed to be a pitcher who physically breaks down in the second half of the season, I made the decision to compare both the first and second halves of the pitcher’s seasons.

Note: Brett Anderson, Gavin Floyd, and Jason Hammel are projected to be their team’s third starter. I decided to use them in this particular study because the A’s, White Sox, and Orioles projected fourth starters in 2013 were all rookies last season, which is a very small sample size. I decided to only use players with more than one season of Major League experience. Also, I decided to include the Mariners because they are a division rival. Sorry Astros fans, you did not make the cut.

1st Half

Pitcher Team IP ERA AVG OBP SLG
Alexi Ogando Rangers

155

2.50

.198

.253

.304

Jason Vargas Angels

468.1

4.09

.248

.306

.410

Brett Anderson A’s

201.1

4.02

.263

.322

.396

Blake Beaven Mariners

75.2

5.23

.278

.322

.490

Phil Hughes Yankees

301.2

4.65

.259

.321

.435

Brandon Morrow Blue Jays

374.1

4.11

.230

.325

.368

Gavin Floyd White Sox

627.1

4.81

.252

.326

.425

Doug Fister Tigers

270.1

3.46

.256

.303

.378

Alex Cobb Rays

86

4.40

.252

.320

.366

Jason Hammel Orioles

474.1

4.29

.266

.333

.411

Felix Doubront Red Sox

109.1

4.45

.259

.333

.450

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP BABIP FIP

7.20

2.03

0.75

0.95

.230

3.35

5.84

2.67

1.21

1.26

.267

4.47

6.57

2.41

0.94

1.31

.300

3.93

4.16

1.55

1.67

1.31

.277

5.36

7.82

2.83

1.28

1.33

.300

4.26

9.64

4.35

0.79

1.35

.298

3.66

6.71

3.30

1.22

1.35

.281

4.61

5.53

1.90

0.67

1.20

.288

3.56

6.17

2.93

0.42

1.31

.296

3.46

6.55

3.11

0.93

1.40

.304

4.09

8.48

3.54

1.32

1.42

.306

4.40

 

While Ogando has thrown less innings than many of the pitchers on the list, his numbers are much better in many categories on the chart, including ERA, OBP, SLG, BABIP, and is the only pitcher on the list with a WHIP under 1.00. When one averaged out the ten pitchers’ numbers other than Ogando on the chart, Ogando’s numbers were superior. Alexi’s first half statistics are better than many top of the rotation pitchers in baseball, including Stephen Strasburg, who is an interesting first half comparison to Ogando if one is so inclined to compare the two.

Alexi’s first half numbers will probably head towards the direction of the mean as he piles up more innings in his career, but at this current juncture, he is one of the better first half fourth starters in the American League. One might think this distinction is rather dubious, but if Ogando is able to come close to duplicating his previous success in the first half of 2013, the Rangers would not have to rush Colby Lewis or Martin Perez back from injury, and trading or signing a 5th starter would not really be that necessary.

2nd Half

Pitcher Team IP ERA AVG OBP SLG
Alexi Ogando Rangers

121.2

3.92

.247

.314

.398

Jason Vargas Angels

361.1

4.68

.263

.325

.438

Brett Anderson A’s

204.2

3.12

.252

.299

.353

Blake Beaven Mariners

173.2

3.99

.276

  .309

.459

Phil Hughes Yankees

333.1

4.16

.241

.304

.407

Brandon Morrow Blue Jays

273.2

4.08

.225

.314

.384

Gavin Floyd White Sox

499.2

4.03

.261

.324

.413

Doug Fister Tigers

339.2

3.50

.249

.292

.378

Alex Cobb Rays

103

3.41

.244

.314

.362

Jason Hammel Orioles

375.2

5.39

.283

.350

.461

Felix Doubront Red Sox

87

5.38

.261

.353

.437

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 WHIP BABIP FIP

7.92

3.03

1.04

1.30

.292

3.88

5.63

2.89

1.12

1.37

.286

4.49

7.21

1.98

0.62

1.19

.302

3.14

3.83

1.35

1.14

1.23

.283

4.41

7.37

2.92

1.22

1.25

.274

4.26

9.60

4.05

1.12

1.30

.280

4.03

7.38

2.67

1.10

1.31

.302

4.11

6.52

1.70

0.79

1.16

.286

3.47

7.34

2.88

0.87

1.23

.289

3.82

6.61

3.14

1.10

1.49

.321

4.40

9.62

4.76

1.24

1.55

.326

4.40

 

After inspecting the second half statistics, one will notice Ogando’s numbers do begin to move in the wrong direction. So, the theory Ogando begins to tire in the second half does have some credence, but his overall numbers are still very respectable as his ERA is still slightly under 4.00 and he possess the fourth lowest FIP among the pitchers included on this particular chart. When one again averages the ten other pitchers’ numbers and compares the averages to Ogando’s numbers, the only statistic Alexi is worse in is BB/9. Ogando must improve his control in the second half as he walks more than one batter per nine innings more than he does in the first half of the season.

Ogando has not gotten off to a very splendid start in spring training as his ERA is 8.10 in just 3 1/3 innings pitched, but Alexi is working on adding a changeup to expand his limited repertoire, and while his fastball velocity is down, fans should not have anxiety over the slow start because spring training is glorified practice. Plus, when compared to other fourth starters (and third starters) among competitors in the American League, Ogando has actually been better.

The decrease in Ogando’s velocity early in spring training should not be disconcerting because a drop is quite common with pitchers developing another pitch in the spring. Case in point, Tampa Bay Rays flame thrower Jake McGee. McGee averaged 95.7 MPH on his fastball last season (Ogando averaged 96.8), but the speed of his fastball has decreased some early in the spring. However, McGee is experimenting with a changeup and is trying to develop a slider. McGee has already stated he is building up his endurance, and does not want to “waste his bullets.” I have read speculation Alexi might be injured, but he is probably ensuring he is in great shape and ready to pitch well for an entire season.

The Rangers starting rotation is a little deeper than many believe it is, and as previously mentioned, the team might not have to sign a pitcher such as Kyle Lohse, or trade for a Rick Porcello despite the loss of the previously leading candidate for the 5th starter, Martin Perez. If Ogando is able to pitch well the entire season as a fourth starter, the Rangers should be very successful in 2013.

For infinite baseball wisdom, follow me on Twitter @DustinDietz18 , or shoot me an email at ddietz2004@yahoo.com.

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Worried about the 4th starter? Ogando’s got this., 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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