The once prized prospect has fallen upon some hard times, and when I say this I mean his 2010 statistics have been atrocious.
A nine win and 15 loss campaign was very reminiscent of the New York Yankees starter A.J. Burnett with his 10 wins and 15 losses. Deep down, Burnett still has that ability, that “gunslinger” mentality as well as an arsenal of pitches when on, are as good as anybody’s in the game.
Kazmir on the other hand has been on a freefall for the past 2 plus seasons.
Between 2005 and 2008, Kazmir could have been considered, a top-five lefty in the game. Posting nearly 10 strikeouts a game and relying on a mid-nineties fastball and a devastating slider that had batters spinning like tops.
An underlying factor that was pinpointed in early scouting reports and a recent rash of injuries have depleted this lefty of a major weapon and exposed some major weaknesses.
Injuries and a lack of aggressiveness have always been two flaws focused on by scouts. Injuries will happen, but lack of aggressiveness, obviously hidden by his “stuff”, is now looked upon as a deterrent and cannot be ignored.
Kazmir has always walked a lot of guys but now the lack of velocity is accentuating his inability to throw strikes at opportune times, and when he does, the result is extremely negative as the numbers below will show.
In the last two years, his hits per nine innings have risen to 9.48 while his WHIP has peaked at 1.58.
This of course leads us to the root cause; a lack/decline in velocity.
A once dominant fastball (93.7mph) and slider (84.0 mph) have turned relatively common; 90.5mph and 80.9mph.
This of course does not bode well for one with a history of a lack of control. Once able to dominate with a change of speeds, now has to creep closer to the strike-zone, where, of course all the damage is being committed.
According to FanGraphs Kazmir’s O-contact percentage is at its low point of 24.2 percent, meaning batters are not fooled by what he is tossing up to the plate.
On the other hand, his Z-contact percentage has hit an all-time high of 87.9 percent (2009, 86.4). Z-contact percentage is defined as Percentage of times a batter makes contact with the ball when swinging at pitches thrown inside the strike zone.
In other words, batters are teeing off on all pitches regardless of speed, location, and variety.
It will be very interesting at the beginning of spring training as to what the Los Angeles Angels plan on doing with former first-round pick.
Kazmir has one-year left on a guaranteed contract worth $12 million for the upcoming 2011 season.
They can’t just release him can they?
Can they use him as trade bait?
All signs point to no.
Turning 27, Kazmir should be entering the prime of his career. He really has nothing to lose at this point, except maybe a non-existent starting rotation spot.
We have witnessed the lack of confidence that the Word Champion San Francisco Giants have in Barry Zito, is that where Kazmir is now headed? Will he be used in mop-up duty, or in meaningless mid-June games?
I personally cannot wait to see what happens. He was a first-round pick for a reason, and has performed like one for the most part. It now is the time to prove all the writers wrong, disprove all scouting reports claiming he is washed up and rewrite the book on this one.
A true pitcher will learn from this and become better. Learn how to pitch effectively, hit your spots, get groundballs, and get the job done.
Devon Teeple is an author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. Devon is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network.
Devon is a Demand Media Studios writer, featured writer on Examiner.com and is now a member of the Yarbarker Network.
He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies.
Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is an intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.
Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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