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Friday, April 22, 2011

Scouting Report Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders
29 years old
7th major league season
6'3" 210 pounds
Bats L/Throws L

Joe Saunders was a 1st round pick by the Angels in 2002, and was one of the main pieces in the trade that sent Dan Haren to the Angels last year. Everyone is the sabermetric community laughed/felt bad for Arizona, because their then GM (Jerry DiPoto) quoted Saunders career winning % as a way to show he's a very good pitcher. Is that the case?

To Jerry DiPoto's credit, he does have a shiny winning percentage (he went 33-14 in 2008 and 2009), unfortunately that's not the best indicator of a true pitcher's talent. His career ERA is 4.33, and 1.41 WHIP, which is more of a middle/back of rotation pitcher. He has a very low K/9 rate (5.1 career), but at least he minimizes walks (< 3 BB/9).

Saunders is a four pitch pitcher, who has a smooth arm action, and throws from a 3/4s arm slot. He throws his fastball to both sides of the plate and has some sink to it, and sits between 87-91 mph, and throws it 62% of the time. His 2nd favorite pitch is his change-up, which he throws 17% of the time (82 mph). His curve was his best pitch last year (76 mph), and his slider was 2nd best (80-82 mph). He still throws his fastball > 50% of the time with two strikes, but his curveball other pitch he likes to throw in an 0-2/1-2 count. As noted above, he doesn't get a lot of strike outs, and his swing and miss % was 5.9 last year, and 5.2 this year.

Saunders is off to a rough start this year, 0-2 (3 starts), with only 1 quality start to note, and his ERA sits at 6.32, WHIP = 2.11. His BB/9 rate is indicative of a small sample size, as it's doubled from his career average, and is 5.74, while is K/9 rate is miniscule 3.45. The last two starts he's let up 4+ runs in 9 2/3 innings combined.

Saunders has never faced the Mets in his career (just joined the National league last year).

Recap: he's a decent back of the rotation pitcher (in the mold of a Chris Capuano), but not the pitcher the Diamondbacks thought they were getting when they traded ace Dan Haren.

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