Sunday, October 16, 2011

Felipe Paulino Enjoys a Breakout Following Trade to Kansas City

Of all the acquisitions made in the AL Central this season the most meaningful might be one you never heard of, namely the Royals acquisition of Felipe Paulino from the Rockies for cash considerations. The move was made back in late May after Paulino, who was once a well regarded pitching prospect in the Astros system was traded to the Rockies for Clint Barmes, following the 2010 season.

I wrote briefly about the move back in June after Paulino made his debut for the Royals with four solid outings, throwing 21 innings while striking out 16 and walking just 4 saying;

"I don't expect Paulino to maintain the role he's on. He's been buoyed by some good luck and ground ball/walk rates that don't mesh with his career track record. But he is a talented arm, and has the ability to miss enough bats, while getting enough ground balls to be a capable member of a Major League rotation, or potentially a dominant member of a bullpen."

Over his next six starts Paulino would have just two quality starts and got hit rather hard, posting a 5.22 ERA over 39.2 innings of work. But a deeper look at the peripherals showed he was still pitching rather well, as he struck out 43 in that span while walking just 11 for a K/BB raio just a tick under 4. But where he benefitted from a .242 BABIP over the first four starts, he suffered from a .404 mark over his next six.

Nevertheless over those 60.2 innings Paulino had allowed an opponents OPS of just .704 despite being the victim of a .345 BABIP while striking out 59 and walking 15 and getting ground balls on 49% of his balls in play. All very good marks.Overall Paulino's 4.11 ERA in his 124.2 innings of work as a starter for the Royals was the best mark of his career - something that speaks to how bad he's been. But the fact that he posted peripherals strong enough to warrant such success, with a K rate of 8.59 (career best), walk rate of 3.46 (slightly better than his career average), and a ground ball rate of 44.8% (slightly better than his career average) is promising.

It's worth noting however that Paulino like the Marlins Ricky Nolasco has simply never been as good as his peripherals suggest he ought to be. While Paulino's career 4.18 career FIP and even better career 4.04 xFIP suggest he should be a solid #3 type of starter, his career 5.28 ERA isn't anywhere close to where we would project it to be. That's mostly because his career BABIP of .340 is about as bad as I've ever seen for a pitcher with at least 300 MLB innings.

Indeed, all Paulino really accomplished during his stint with the Royals was to live up to his career FIP projections.

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