Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 9/20/12

In 2011, White Sox reliever Addison Reed faced 293 minor league hitters and struck out 111 while walking only 14 of them. It was a good year for Reed. He went from A-Ball, to High-A, to Double-A, to Triple-A in 3 months and 15 days.

In 2012, Reed has faced 229 major league hitters and struck out 52 while walking 18. He has also allowed two more home runs than in his time in the minors while facing 64 fewer hitters.

Despite all this, the AL Central-leading, supposedly rebuilding Chicago White Sox have called on the rookie Reed to perform as the team’s closer. And even with his his 4.82 ERA, the White Sox have stuck with him and have been rewarded with the 9th most net shutdowns in the American League (28 shutdowns, 9 meltdowns, 19 net SD) and a total of 28 saves.

So have the White Sox done it? Have they finally found the heir to the ghost of Bobby Jenks? Or have his recent struggles been a portent of pending trouble?

Well, Reed has a few oddities on his stats sheet, and depending on which items we consider aberration and which we consider omens, it can alter the way we see the 23-year-old relief ace.

The Medium Walks, Medium Ks Group
Reed’s strikeout rate this season has been a slightly-above-average 22.7%, while his walk rate has been an almost-perfectly-average 7.9%. From 2000 through 2011, relievers with a strikeout rate at or under 23% and a walk rate at or above 8% have averaged a 99 FIP-minus and a 94 ERA-minus — not inspiring numbers for a reliever.

If we further limit the group and look at just relievers with K-rates between 20% and 23% and walk-rates of 8% to 9%, we get a 93 FIP-minus and an 84 ERA-minus — neither really qualifying as a high-leverage material.

That being said, we must remember that Reed had a strikeout rate in the 38% range in the minors — as well as a walk rate about half his current rate — and with time he could move towards those more elite numbers.

The High-Zone Group
One reason to think Reed’s strikeout numbers will improve is that his Zone% (according to PITCHf/x) is one of the best in the league. The man does not fiddle around with pitches outside the zone.

At a 56.6% Zone-rate, Reed ranks No. 10 in the MLB among all pitchers with at least 50 innings. That’s impressive for a rookie, much less a reliever with feh strikeout/walk numbers. Over the last four seasons (2009 through 2012), only 16 relievers have had Zone-rates greater than 54% — and that group averaged an 81 FIP-minus with a 77-ERA minus. Now we’re talking high leverage reliever!

That same group of 16 relievers (which somewhat ironically includes Bobby Jenks) had a 24.2% K-rate and 7.4% walk-rate — which is almost identical to Reed’s current numbers.

If Reed can find ERA success with his current peripherals — as this group of 16 relievers did — then White Sox fans will not have to worry about his low HR/FB rate (7.5%) and underwhelming xFIP (100 xFIP-minus). For a reliever, those metrics hold much less water — especially a fly ball pitcher who pounds the zone like a jackhammer.

But increasing his strikeout rate is still something we should expect, right? Given his minor league dominance, one would hope a 22.7% K-rate is just the beginning. But at current, his swinging strike rates suggest otherwise.

The Low Swinging Strike Group
In general, swinging strikes make for an good predictor of future strikeouts. At 9.5%, Reed is getting swinging strikes at just a tick about league average. But for a reliever, that’s actually 0.7% below average.

And when we look at relievers from 2009 through 2012 with a swinging strike rate between 9.2% and 9.8%, we get a collective 91 FIP-minus and 87 ERA-minus — another underwhelming showing. This group sported a 23.3% K-rate and 9.5% walk-rate, numbers again too close to Reed’s for comfort.

All Told
All told, it’s impressive that Reed has managed to time his bad showings — 16 games with a 4.10 FIP or higher — in such a way as to amass only 9 meltdowns, 4 blown saves and 2 losses.

Will Reed develop into an elite reliever? Well, here’s the deal. Reed has three pitches — a fastball (94 mph), slider (84 mph) and changeup (85 mph) — and his second pitch, the slider, has generated only a 14.1% swinging strike rate. I think a good proxy for Reed in terms of pitch selection is the likewise fastball-favoring Joel Hanrahan. The Pirates reliever does not throw as hard or as zone-heavy as Reed, but he does throw a fastball over 70% of the time and goes to his slider about once every ten pitches. But Hanrahan gets swinging strikes on almost a third of his sliders.

I think one of the reason for this discrepency is that Hanrahan is burying his slider down and away, while Reed tends to put the slider away from righties:

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker