Doug Fister will take the ball against the Royals tonight. What do we know about him?
- Throws: With right hand
- Bats: With left hand (which will be relevant when the Royals & Ms play a 20 inning game on Saturday)
- Middle Name: Wildes
- Career Starts: 40
- Career ERA+: Exactly 100
- Odds that he was secretly drafted and developed by the Minnesota Twins: 60%
So what's going to happen to those balls in play? Fister doesn't strike many batters out (12.9% in 2010) and doesn't walk many batters either (5%). His stuff is hittable, as evidence by a 4.6% swinging strike rate in 2010. Yet somehow, he's survived. It hasn't been all Safeco either. Fister's tRA in 2010 was almost exactly league average (4.39). His FIP was similarly decent at 3.73.
Weird thing is, his BABIP wasn't even that low, clocking in at an above average number of .302. Oh, so he much have had a really fluky strand rate? No. Not really. Well then.
As those two links illustrate, Fister had an up and down season in 2011, with an injury mixed in. He had better success/luck pre-injury, when he was also getting more groundballs and throwing more fastballs. Does that mean anything? Maybe, maybe not.
If you're wondering what to expect from Doug Fister in 2011, I think the best answer is "Doug Fister". Forget all about his ERA. Just think about what a guy like Doug Fister offers as a skillset, and translate that to a performance on the field. There, now you have a reasonable projection. It'll be interesting to see whether he comes out all fastball-heavy again or if he opts for more of a mix, since that kind of changes the profile a little bit, but no matter what he does, Fister's thrown 232 innings in the big leagues, now, and he's established himself as a guy who rarely walks anyone, generates a decent amount of groundballs, and occasionally misses a bat. It's a simple skillset, but it's a skillset that works, as evidenced by Fister's career 4.11 ERA and 4.33 xFIP. As weird as it is to say, I think it's safe to call him a suitable, dependable back-of-the-rotation starter. He's a guy who's vulnerable to some wild swings of luck, but as long as you don't let yourself get thrown off, he shouldn't disappoint.
Just about every team in baseball has a guy like Fister in the rotation. If there's something interesting about him, he can become a cause or a favorite. If Fister talked about stats (Brian Bannister) or was Chinese-Panamanian (Bruce Chen) or was really old (Jamie Moyer) he'd be much more interesting, But he's not.