Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/14/14
I love everything about what Chris Sale did last year. By winning 17 games on the back of a 3.05 ERA in 192 innings, Sale gave us a blueprint for what a successful reliever-to-starter conversion looks like. Until further notice, whenever I read that a reliever is going to give it a shot in the rotation, I’ll compare him to Sale to estimate his chances at succeeding. But while almost every single aspect of Sale’s surprising 2012 season points to his success being legitimate and not fueled by luck, there are a few warning signs. I love his ground ball tendency, but he allowed line drives 23.0% of the time compared to 20.9% MLB average. Sale’s infield fly rate was good (12.2% versus 10.0% MLB average), but those line drives indicate batters were able to square up on him a little too easily. Plus, Sale’s strand rate was 80.0%, noticeably higher than the 72.5% MLB average. While strand rates in the high-70s and 80s are possible in any given season, they’re tough to maintain over the long...
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