Joakim Soria: Looking Back at 2011 With Hope for 2012

Gracias por no tirar el cortador.

Joakim Soria's 2011 season was by far that worst season he has had in the majors. He had career highs in ERA, FIP, WHIP and HR/FB. Here is a quick look at his career stats.

Season Saves BS G IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 LOB% ERA FIP xFIP WAR
2007 17 4 62 69.0 9.8 2.5 0.4 74% 2.48 2.50 3.19 2.40
2008 42 3 63 67.1 8.8 2.5 0.7 90% 1.60 3.25 3.62 1.60
2009 30 3 47 53.0 11.7 2.7 0.9 87% 2.21 2.74 2.90 1.80
2010 43 3 66 65.2 9.7 2.2 0.6 89% 1.78 2.53 2.85 2.00
2011 28 7 60 60.1 9.0 2.5 1.0 72% 4.03 3.49 3.38 0.90
Total 160 20 298 315.1 9.7 2.5 0.7 82% 2.40 2.90 3.20 8.80

Over the course of his career, he was able to post an ERA that was lower than his FIP and xFIP by keeping runners on base to a career number of 82% LOB%. His LOB% was closer to 90% from 2008 to 2010 (90%, 87%, 89%). He may have been lucky over the course of those 3 seasons, but I believe a change to his pitch repertoire caused him problems in 2011.

In 2011, he began the season throwing quite a few cutters. This pitch ended up getting hammered. Here are the stats from the 1st two months when he threw the cutter over half the time and the rest of the season when he threw it 1/5th of the time:

Dates % of Cutter Thrown SV BS K/9 BB/9 HR/9 K/BB BABIP ERA
March 1st to May 31st 56% 7 5 7.8 4.1 1.6 1.9 0.354 6.55
June 1st to Sept 31st 21% 21 2 9.6 1.6 0.7 5.9 0.294 2.58

The cutter, which is supposed to induced weak contact, ended up getting knocked around. His HR/9 was over twice his career average. Kyle Davies was even able to put up a K/BB greater than Soria (1.9 vs. 1.6). Soria ended up blowing more saves in those first 2 months than in any previous complete season.

For 2011, I expect the Royals will see the Soria of old as long as he keeps the number of cutters he throws to a minimum.

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