With 26 out of 30 MLB teams within 6 games back of a wild card spot, the amount of parity within the game of baseball today is at unprecedented levels. While fans benefit from this surge in parity, teams looking to add talent at the trading deadline do not. With only a handful of teams considered to be bona-fide sellers at the trading deadline, the supply of premium pitching talent has diminished, while the demand has only increased. As a result, cubs-mariners-marlins“>forefront of the MLB rumor mill and the wish lists of teams looking to improve down the stretch. The most valuable of the three most popular pitching targets, however, might not necessarily be the one who you would think.
It is no longer a secret that Jason Hammel is having a career year. Hammel is 19th this season in fWAR among qualified pitchers, 17th in FIP-, and 16th in SIERA. He has posted career lows in BB/9, BABIP, HR/9, ERA, SIERA, FIP, and xFIP, while posting a career high in LOB%. Hammel is doing all of this at age 31, with just under a thousand innings pitched headed into the season. At first glance, Hammel wreaks of a pitcher that is due to regress to the mean, however, a more in depth analysis on Hammel’s career will lead you to find that his 2014 success was long overdue. A recent article written by Eno Sarris briefly showcased just how unique of a starting pitcher Jason Hammel is. Hammel has used two pitches, his fastball and slider, 90.4% of the time in 2014, which was the 12th most frequent usage of those two pitches by all qualified starters as of June 2nd. The graph below shows how much more frequently Hammel has been using his slider this year relative to years past.