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Did Danny Duffy's Rookie Season Accomplish Anything?

Royal pitching prospect Danny Duffy is nearing the end of his 2011 Rookie campaign, and I'm wandering if much was really accomplished by it. Sure, there are all the soft factors, of which we can pick our explanatory cliche ("he got his feet wet" "he took his lumps" "he learned the ropes" etc) but those are really really hard to evaluate. I think they'd be hard to evaluate even if I was Danny Duffy myself, simply because so much of how we make sense of emotional and mental experiences is frankly irrational and tied to after the fact circumstances anyway. Oh, having [BLANK] happen when it did helped me deal with [BLANK] the next month because I was prepared. Yea... whatever.

Beyond the mental mumbo jumbo, we'd really need to look into the specifics such as mechanics, release point, learning how to read scouting reports, and work on individual pitches. There might be something there, but we definitely didn't see the results at the macro level in 2011.

2011 - Danny Duffy 4-8 20 20 0 0 0 0 105.1 119 66 66 15 51 87 5.64 1.61


Duffy has a 71 ERA+ and a FIP- of 117 (which means 17% below average). He's simply not been very effective in 2011. The strikeout rate (7.43 per 9) has been ok, but he's walked too many (4.36 BB/9) and been hurt badly by the home run (1.28 HR/9). As has been discussed quite a bit, he labors through innings, missing a below average number of at bats and mixing in too many balls.

While there have been various attempts to celebrate a Duffy turning point this season, there doesn't truly appear to have been one. In his last seven starts (37 IP) he's posted a 6.69 ERA, thanks mostly to allowing a zillion hits. I don't think he's a 6.00 ERA pitcher (hardly anyone is, or is allowed to be) but nevertheless, there's just no sense that we're building to some happy 2011 ending. You are welcome to stroll through the game log on your own if you'd like.

The good news is that Duffy is just 22, so he has plenty of room to improve.If you liked Duffy in April, feel free to like him in October. He's got that label that we all find so magical, he's young and he'll be young, well, until he isn't. Despite the increased interest in prospects from mainstream fans, there has been less recognition of the central fact that pitchers and hitters develop differently. A pitcher struggling at 22 is much more worrisome than a hitter doing so (hey everyone in Baltimore's system, glad to see ya!).

As we head to 2012 however, all I really see this season as is filled innings, killed time, and another reminder that pitching prospects are extremely unpredictable.