Results tagged ‘ Holds ’

The Baddest Holds Man in The League?

By R.J. Anderson //

Kyle Farnsworth is known for four f-words: fighting, fastball, failure, and one unprintable word that encompasses the fan reaction to his failure. Another f-word that might pop up in discussion about Farnsworth this spring is fantasy — as in fantasy value. It sounds funny, but with the Tampa Bay Rays signing Farnsworth to a one-year deal (with an option for a second year) there’s an outside chance that he earns some saves this season; at the very least he’s a decent candidate for holds, given the complete overhaul of the Rays’ bullpen.

Farnsworth’s seasons since 2007 resemble a bag full of charcoal and candy. Some of the results are inedible, while others are delicious. Over the past two seasons, Farnsworth sports a solid 3.79 ERA; his peripherals (strikeout, walk, home rate) suggest his ERA should’ve been closer to 3.10. Of course, a look further back at Farnsworth’s 2007 and 2008 seasons (when Farnsworth’s cumulative ERA topped 4.60) makes it easier to digest an ERA in the high 3s as a good sign. The big change in Farnsworth’s game appears to be his reduction in walks and home runs allowed, as displayed below in percentages of total plate appearances:

Season: BB%/  HR%
2007: 10.2%/  3.4%
2008: 8.4%/  5.8%
2009: 8.3%/  1.8%
2010: 7.1%/  1.5%

The improvements coincide perfectly with Farnsworth’s increased usage of a cut-fastball, along with more consistency in release points and a different foothold on the mound. Those changes would not hold the same value if Farnsworth lost much in the way of strikeouts. Fortunately, he’s been able to strike out 22% or more of his batters faced in each of the past two seasons. Thus, Farnsworth is actually one of baseball’s more interesting developments over the past two years.

The legitimacy of this skill set alteration will be tested in 2011, as Farnsworth returns to the American League East for the first time since unceremoniously leaving the New York Yankees. The Rays have some other options to close — and may add another in the coming days. But for now, Farnsworth is a name to watch, especially in deeper leagues.

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