Astros offseason: Lucas Harrell vs. the projections

Eric Christian Smith

Ouch, this one is going to be ugly. We look back at the right-hander's trainwreck of a season to see how he did against projections.

Happy Friday everyone. This week, we're talking about pitchers, but it's not a fun pitcher. It's Lucas Harrell.

So, how'd he do? Let's let the man himself chime in.

Harrellfist_medium

No Lucas. Things did not turn out that awesome.

What we said

We didn't finish a preview on Harrell, which is a fitting metaphor for his 2013 season. We did, however, write about his trade value back in March. I'm already cringing about what I wrote:

Harrell, on the other hand, is worth more and less all at the same time. Because he's got five years of service time left for his team, Lucas Harrell has two more years than Norris to produce WAR and surplus value. Plus, he's got two seasons right at the front where his value is almost all surplus, considering he's on a minimum contract.

However, because he's only pitched one full season in the majors, it's quite a bit harder to project out what he might do over those five years. We can assume he's in for a slight regression from his 2.8 fWAR total of 2012, but could he bounce back the next season with a career year? At 28, he's also in the prime of his career.

We can try to peg him around 10-12 fWAR over those five seasons, which gives him a ton of surplus value. In fact, his surplus is almost three times that of Norris. But, because of that volatility, there is very little chance that Harrell gets traded.

Gah. I wish I were drunk when I wrote that. It'd be more easily denied. Let's just say I was not exactly prophetic with those words.

What they said

ZiPS saw Harrell with the following line:

153 IP, 4.75 ERA, 101 Ks, 67 BB, 14 HRs, 27 starts, ERA+ of 85

ZiPS also said that Harrell had a 71 percent chance of posting an ERA+ of 80 or better. Spoiler, he did not get there.

Steamer, meanwhile, saw Harrell with this line:

169 IP, 4.68 ERA, 109 Ks, 72 BBs, 14 HRs, 28 starts, SIERA of 4.61

Those were pretty close in both innings and ERA and both predicted Harrell would take a pretty significant step back from what he'd done in 2012.

What he did

I'm convinced Dan Szymborski is a wizard. Maybe that's too far, but I'm really shocked looking back at just how much regression Harrell was predicted to go through. And yet, Harrell still underperformed.

In 153 innings, Harrell posted a 5.86 ERA with 89 strikeouts, 88 walks and 20 home runs. He only started 22 games before shuttling between the bullpen and starting rotation.

His ERA+? A big, fat 69. That means that he was 31 percent worse than the league average. Harrell is in good company of players who threw 150 or more innings with a 70 or worse ERA+. The list includes Edinson Volquez, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Backe, Jose Lima, David Cone, Rick Wise and Warren Spahn.

It's still not a good list.

Let's just say Harrell did not live up to expectations and move on. This whole thing bummed me out.

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