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On The Cusp: Will Harris


With the upcoming deadline to select the 25 man roster, I wanted to look at the case for Will Harris. With arguably the best bullpen in baseball, there will be some very talented pitchers left off the roster by no fault of their own, and the emergence of prospects such as James and Perez only further complicate the issue.

I had posted a bullpen piece to start a discussion about which players our community would put on the playoff roster and Harris was basically unanimously left off. With only 7 pitchers to be selected, I made mention that he was extremely underrated due to some initial bumps in the road and bad luck, but didn’t dig deeper. But how good has he been?

2018 - 5-3, 3.49 ERA, 10.16 K/9, 2.22 BB/9 in 56.2 IP

Looking at the traditional stats, Harris’ ERA in particular does not look particularly appealing. He does still have a strong K and BB rate.

But let’s take a look using some of the advanced stats:

fWAR: 1.2

The “all encompassing” stat - shows Will Harris as the third most valuable reliever for the Astros in 2018.

FIP: 2.44

Field Independent Pitching attempts to take luck out of the equation, and basically looks at items within the pitchers control. Harris would rank fourth best here.

xFIP: 2.77

xFIP is very similar to FIP, but regresses home run rates to average instead of using what occurred. Harris is the second best here.

SIERA: 2.77

SIERA works to add in batted balls and has a slightly different weight to stats like walks and strikeouts. Fangraphs considers anyone under 2.90 as excellent. Harris comes in at 4th here.

WHIP: 1.09

As everyone knows, you can’t be an elite reliever without a WHIP under 1, mf. Harris comes in 5th here.

K-BB%: 21.7%

Harris comes in at 4th place here.

Looking at basically every advanced stat, Harris seems like he should be a no-brainer to be included on the roster. So why is it that a month ago, people lost trust in him and barely wanted him on the regular season roster nevermind the playoff roster?

In the beginning of the year, Harris suffered from some poor luck, and being homer prone. Back at the start of July, he had an ERA of over 4, and the optics weren’t great. But the advanced stats saw his bounceback coming, with Fangraphs writing an article on Relievers who will matter in the second half, and had this to say about Harris:

“Will Harris would likely elicit a shrug from anyone who peered at his 4.15 ERA. His FIP and xFIP are both sub-3.00, though, and his SIERA is an even tinier 2.40. Including him here might be considered cheating in two ways: he’s appeared in ten games over the last month with an ERA of 2.70, and he’s an Astro.

He was victimized by home runs earlier in the year and has been better at keeping the ball in the park, having allowed only one dinger over the last 30 days. It helps that he’s striking out a career high, too, with a reworked curveball that’s tighter and sharper than ever.”

For me, Harris has earned his spot, edging out some excellent competition. If you were in Hinch’s shoes would you have a spot for him?


Does Harris make your play-off roster?

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  • 65%
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