Sunday, March 11, 2018

Twins signing Lance Lynn

The 2017 free agent off season has been one of the most surprising in recent memory.  When spring training broke, over half of most people's top ten free agents hadn't signed with a team.  That included J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Mike Moustakas.  As of this writing Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta are both unsigned.  Moustakas and Lynn signed 1 year deals within the last few days.

I was surprised that Lynn had such much trouble reaching a reasonable mid-level deal.  Like, lets say 3 years for about $35 million.  For a pitcher that has a career record of 72-47 and a 3.38 ERA, I thought he would have a nice collection of suitors.  He's not an elite pitcher, but he's topped 200 innings pitched twice, made an All Star team, and has a healthy 14.9 WAR in his career.

He had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and is just over 30, but with a 3.43 ERA and 3.1 WAR in 2017, surely he could more interest than what he got?

Then I noticed the following in baseball reference.

From 2012-2015 Lynn had an ERA of 3.38 and a FIP of 3.39.  So nearly identical to each other.

In 2017, his ERA of 3.43 went with a FIP of 4.82.

From 2012-2015 Lynn had a strikeout / 9 innings rate of 8.6.

In 2017, it was 7.4.

From 2012-2015 Lynn had a strikeouts to walk ratio of 2.59.

In 2017, it was 1.96.

From 2012-2015 Lynn had a BABIP of .315.

In 2017, his BABIP was .248.

So in other words, all of Lynn's peripherals looked bad / trending down and he appeared to benefit from a lot of luck.

For Lynn, signing a 1 year deal was probably a great idea.  He can hopefully show more value another year removed from Tommy John surgery.

Update (10/24/18):

Here's Lance Lynn's stats line from 2018

10-10, 4.77 ERA, over 156 innings and had a collect 0.9 WAR. 

But look at these peripherals

FIP - 3.84 ERA, nearly a run better and better than 4.82 in 2017.

strikeouts per 9 innings - 9.2, matches his career best as a starter

strikeouts to walk ratio - 2.12, better than 2017 but still below career average

perhaps he'll do better on the free agent market because of his peripherals this year