Andy Pettitte (SP-NYY)- Pettitte was charged with his fourth loss of the season after allowing three runs on five hits (one home run) and three walks while striking out four in five innings of work. His record fell to 5-4, as his ERA increased to 2.87 for the year. His 3.49 FIP and 3.28 xFIP indicate that he has pitched almost as well as his ERA would indicate, as his 8.51 K/9 is the best of his career. No one knows for sure what Pettitte will do next year, but there have been indications that he would come back. He certainly has the skills to be productive in 2013 considering his 10.2 percent swinging strike and 34 percent chase rate are the best of his career. Furthermore, his 56.3 percent ground ball rate is the best of his career. He has benefitted from an 80.2 percent strand rate this year, but he could provide a 3.75 type of ERA in more work next year if he returns to the Yankees.
Prince Fielder (1B-DET)- Fielder went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and a strikeout in the Tigers 6-4 win over the Twins yesterday afternoon. The home run was his 29th of the season, and he now has a .309/.408/.522 line in 676 plate appearances this year. It has been an interesting year for Fielder owners, as they have seen him produce his lowest HR/FB ratio (17.8 percent) since 2006. However, his .309 batting average is the best of his career. Looking at Fielder's batted ball profile, a 25.7 percent line drive rate (career high) and 33.1 percent fly ball rate (lowest in a full season) explains the drop in his home runs. Furthermore, his 20 percent HR/FB ratio at home indicates that moving to Comerica Park is not the reason for the drop. I would expect Fielder to produce a batted ball profile more similar to his career rate next season, which should ultimately lead to another 35 home run season. However, with a drop in his strikeout rate (12.4 percent), it is more likely he can keep his average at .300.
Dan Straily (SP-OAK)- Straily delivered a sub-par outing on Saturday against the Mariners allowing four runs (three runs) on three hits, two home runs and four walks in 4.1 innings pitched. He recorded three strikeouts, but saw his ERA increase to 3.89 and but did not earn a decision in the A's 7-4 win. Straily has performed admirably for the A's in seven starts this season, but his 6.49 FIP and 5.31 xFIP indicate that he will not be able to put together a successful campaign in 2013 while pitching to his current numbers. He has been able to benefit from an extremely high strand rate (90.3 percent), and a below average .225 BABIP. His HR/FB ratio of 16.7 percent will also regress, but I would be worried about his 51.4 percent fly ball rate even while getting half of his starts at the Coliseum. His strikeout numbers have been solid (7.32 K/9) with a 9.9 percent swinging strike rate, but he will need to deliver a walk rate closer to his minor league numbers rather than his current 3.66 BB/9.
Kevin Youkilis (3B-CHW)- Youkilis was hitless in three plate appearances for the White Sox on Saturday afternoon, which dropped his slash line to .235/.338/.413 for the year. He has 19 home runs and 60 RBI in 500 plate appearances this year with a .177 ISO. As we all know, this has been Youkilis' worst season offensive in his career with a career worst .329 wOBA and 102 wRC+. However, I'm not as down on him as other analysts might be heading into 2013. There was no doubt he was a mess with the Red Sox in the beginning of the year, but he saw his fly ball rate increase from 29.6 to 40.5 percent after being traded and his line drive rate is still at 20.2 percent. I find it hard to believe that his BABIP will remain below .270 once again next year. Furthermore, Youkilis' 15.7 percent HR/FB ratio is the second best rate of his career. As a later round pick at 3B, he should be a solid buy option.
Jim Johnson (RP-BAL)- Johnson recorded his major league leading 49th save of the season on Saturday night against the Red Sox. He threw a 1-2-3 inning in which he recorded a strikeout, as he lowered his ERA to 2.57 for the year. Much has been made of Johnson's inability to strikeout hitters this season (5.54 K/9), but his 62.7 percent ground ball rate and 16.1 percent line drive rate are spectacular. His batted ball profile has him to produce a below average .259 BABIP, and his control has remained spectacular (1.89 BB/9). Johnson will never be Craig Kimbrel, but he has been remarkably consistent out of the bullpen the last two seasons, and should be considered in the second tier among closers for 2013. He should be able to pitch to a 2.75 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and post a 5.50 K/9 season in 2013, and is more beneficial to owners who already have a high strikeout out staff.
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