(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
John Danks wowed fans, scouts, and opposing hitters with his 2008 season, in which he posted a park-adjusted "ERA+" of 138, struck out seven hitters every nine innings, and won 12 games for the division-winning White Sox.
Entering 2009, he was considered a solid No. 2 option for a fantasy rotation, backing up the big names with consistent numbers across all categories.
Thus far, the 2009 season has been a disappointment for Danks and his owners. He's on pace to match or exceed his strikeout rate from 2008, and by the numbers, he's been able to make hitters swing and miss at a higher rate than in the past.
The problem is that he's also throwing more pitches out of the zone looking to make hitters chase, and they're not, which has led to a higher walk rate than Danks has had in the past.
Compounding Danks' relative control issues has been an extreme BABIP rate. (If you haven't caught on by now, BABIP will be a consistent theme when examining pitchers not performing to their expected levels).
Danks' .323 BABIP exceeds the league average (.301) by a sizable margin, and could account for a good portion of Danks' bad luck with hits this season.
Additionally, a greater number of fly-balls hit off Danks have gone for home runs than in the past—this is a tricky stat to account for, as he does pitch in a hitter-friendly park.
However, the spike (7.4% HR/FB in 2008, 13.8 percent in 2009) is large enough to be considered an outlier, and should settle to somewhere in between as the season goes on.
The big left-hander should be a solid source of wins and Ks going forward, but make sure you can compensate for the possibility that his WHIP and ERA numbers remain inflated due to the Sox' spotty defense and launching pad of a home park.