Danny Duffy Walks Too Many Batters

How about walking the next two guys to give the other team a chance? - John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

These boots are made for walking ....

Danny Duffy has been the only starting pitcher to make it to the majors after the Royals had the best farm system ever. Even his major league experience has been interrupted because of a Tommy John surgery. The surgery is not the major issue keeping down his production. It is the number of walks he freely gives out.

Here is his walk values over his first three seasons:

Season BB/9 BB%
2011 4.4 10.8%
2012 5.9 14.9%
2013 5.2 13.5%

To put the number into perspective, Kyle Davies only had a career 4.3 BB/9. Over the past 10 seasons, only three Royals pitchers (min 100 IP total) had higher walk totals and all were relievers (Andy Sisco, Tim Collins and Robinson Tejeda). Finally, Duffy's walk totals are similar to Guthrie's strikeout totals over the same time frame (2011: 5.6 K/9, 2012: 5.0 K/9, 2013:4.7 K/9).

With such high walk totals, I wanted to go back and see if there were any comparable starting pitchers with similar innings pitched, strikeout and walk numbers to see if there is a chance for Duffy to turn around his career.

I looked at pitcher under 25-years-old since 1990 who what between 100IP and 200 IP and a BB% within two percent points of Duffy

Note: For walk rates I removed intentional walks.

Name BB% K% IP start%
Eric Gagne 12.7% 18.7% 131 96%
Danny Duffy 11.6% 19.7% 156 100%
Juan Guzman 11.5% 21.4% 138 100%
Carlos Hernandez 11.3% 17.9% 170 94%
Garrett Olson 11.3% 14.2% 164 100%
Brian Barnes 11.2% 17.6% 188 97%
Marc Rzepczynski 10.8% 21.4% 124 92%
Joe Slusarski 10.5% 12.4% 109 95%
Matt Clement 10.4% 17.2% 193 94%
Greg Smith 10.3% 14.0% 190 100%
Shairon Martis 10.3% 12.2% 105 95%
Anibal Sanchez 10.3% 15.9% 195 97%
Zack Wheeler 10.3% 19.6% 100 100%
Ricky Romero 10.3% 18.3% 178 100%
Melido Perez 10.2% 19.4% 197 100%
Rick VandenHurk 10.1% 21.5% 153 97%
Clay Buchholz 10.1% 19.2% 190 94%
Jake Arrieta 10.1% 11.7% 100 100%
Jo-Jo Reyes 10.1% 14.8% 190 93%
David Hernandez 10.0% 14.7% 101 95%
Dewon Brazelton 9.8% 11.5% 181 97%
J.P. Howell 9.8% 17.9% 165 100%

First, only one pitcher had a BB% above Duffy which is not a good sign. The walk rate needs to go down to the 11.4% level for some productive pitchers (Sanchez and Buchholz) to emerge. Additionally, quite a few relievers are on the list (Howell, Hernandez, Rzepczynski and Gagne), so maybe another failed starter can move to the Royals bullpen. Just looking over the list, it doesn't give me a good fuzzy feeling for Duffy's future success.

Now, limiting the list to pitchers with similar K% (+/- 2% points), I end up with:

Name BB% K%
Rick VandenHurk 10.1% 21.5%
Juan Guzman 11.5% 21.4%
Marc Rzepczynski 10.8% 21.4%
Danny Duffy 11.6% 19.7%
Zack Wheeler 10.3% 19.6%
Melido Perez 10.2% 19.4%
Clay Buchholz 10.1% 19.2%
Eric Gagne 12.7% 18.7%
Ricky Romero 10.3% 18.3%
J.P. Howell 9.8% 17.9%
Carlos Hernandez 11.3% 17.9%

Again, some good, a lot of crap

For Duffy to ever make it as a regular pitcher, he needs to get his walks under control or he will end up in the bullpen with the rest of the fail Royals starters.

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