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Is Will Harris one of the top relievers in baseball?


Will Harris joined the Astros in 2015 without much fanfare. Here was TCB’s post on the acquisition. It was easy to see why this wasn’t a highly touted acquisition, after all it was a 30 year old player with a 4.26 ERA across his roughly 100 IP in the majors.

There were some indications of his greatness lying below the surface, with a 3.16 FIP indicating that Harris had been somewhat unfortunate on his luck. He had a strong K/9 (9.7) and spin rates that we now believe to be a good indicator of a pitcher’s success in the Astros organization.

So what has he done since then? Well his just over 4 years so far, Harris has pitched 240 innings of 2.55 ERA baseball. He received an All-Star nod for his 2016 performance, and has been an essential cog in the bullpen for the Astros for years.

But let’s take a quick look at how valuable he really has been in these years compared to all other relievers

From a WAR Perspective? His 4.1 ranks him 26th best in baseball.

From an ERA perspective? His 2.55 ranks 15th

From a FIP perspective? His 2.93 ranks 19th

From an xFIP perspective? His 2.91 is an even more sparking 10th overall

From an innings perspective? His 240 ranks him 33rd

I feel like most people would not consider Will Harris to be one of the top 30 relievers in baseball, but in almost every metric, he’s easily within that range. He’s been durable, but consistently produced results that are in line with a lot of team’s relievers.

So how is he doing it?

Well I mentioned his spin rates. Will Harris is in the 97th percentile for Fastball spin, and 83rd Percentile for Curveball spin, a deadly combination in the Astros hands.

His arsenal basically consists of Cutter and Curveball, here were the statcast details on each from 2018.

Cutter – 57.7% of pitches, 92 MPH, 2,525 RPM, .333 xWOBA, 21.9% Whiff %

Curveball – 37.5% of pitches, 82.5 MPH, 2,720 RPM, .178 xWOBA, 48.7% Whiff %


You can see how the Astros have modified his arsenal, dropping the change-up and all but eliminating the 4-seamer

The New York Yankees have assembled one an absurd star-studded bullpen. The Astros? Well they took a different approach, helping shape some lesser known players between Pressly and Harris to create a devastating and understated bullpen. You won’t see tons of people rocking Harris jerseys, which to me only further exemplifies Luhnow’s genius. Based on the stats, Harris has been one of the 30 best relievers in baseball over the span of the past 4+ years and he was a waiver claim from the Diamondbacks. An insane value.

What are your thoughts?