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2016 Season Preview: Chris Young

How long can Chris Young break BABIP?

Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Dayton Moore scooped Chris Young out of the free-agent bargain bin last March, and the lanky right-hander exceeded even the most optimistic expectations In 2015.  Young was shuttled back and forth from the bullpen and rotation all year and consistently got the job done. His versatility proved to be huge in the playoffs and was certainly a factor in him being brought back to Kansas City on a two-year pact.Young came up huge in relief of Game One of the ALDS against Houston, and winning Game One of the World Series in extra innings, but also starting Game Four of the ALCS in Toronto and Game Four of the World Series in New York.

As Starter 3.18 99 78 37 35 13 33 66
As Reliever 2.59 24.1 13 7 7 3 10 17

Chris Young has been revered for years on saber-minded sites for his signature "rise" ball and his ability to outpitch his peripherals due to his ability to induce so many pop ups. He has led the league the league the last two years in fly ball rate by a significant margin. Finding the perfect home park and outfield defense was a wise decision by the Ivy league grad. It also doesn’t hurt that most of the AL Central parks are favorable for pitchers.

Chris Young ERA FIP IP K/9 BB/9 WAR
2015 season 3.06 4.52 123.1 6.1 3.1 0.9
2016 Steamer projection 4.40 5.08 130.0 6.2 3.2 -0.3
2016 PECOTA projection 4.53 5.02 145.1 6.1 3.5 -0.1
2016 ZIPS projection 4.23 4.72 110.2 5.9 3.3 0.4

Young is basically a two-trick pony, with his only secondary pitch being a slider. It does get whiffs at an above average rate, but is far from elite.  The key to his success is changing eye levels. Busting the fastball up in the zone, and working the slider down.

This year, Young will compete with Danny Duffy, Dillon Gee, and Kyle Zimmer for the fifth spot in the rotation. I am fine with Chris Young starting out of the gate, but would prefer him being the long-guy/spot starter. There is just more upside with some of the other candidates like Duffy and Zimmer.  Hopefully the Royals will not need to lean upon him as a starter quite as heavily as they did last year, but Young can serve as a useful safety valve In case others falter.

What do you expect from Chris Young in 2016?