4 MLB Players Set Up for a Regression in 2014

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2013

4 MLB Players Set Up for a Regression in 2014

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    Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

    Every season, there are a number of players in the MLB who put up disappointing numbers. They are coming off of strong seasons and either their power numbers, batting average or ERA fails to match what they did in the previous year.

    Players regress for a number of reasons, and there are some key indicators which may hint at the fact that a player will fail to replicate his numbers from the previous season. A very high batting average on balls in play is one such example.

    This coming season, there will be at least a few big-name players who cannot replicate their success from the 2013 season. The following players have a strong chance to be on that list.

Chris Tillman

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Ever since the Baltimore Orioles acquired Chris Tillman in the Erik Bedard deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2008, they thought that they were getting a pitcher who could make a big impact in their starting rotation.

    Tillman had some struggles early on during his career, but over the past two seasons he has gone 25-10. There was some regression for Tillman between 2012 and 2013 as his ERA jumped by 0.78 and his WHIP increased by 0.17, and he may regress more in 2014.

    According to FanGraphs, Tillman had a 4.42 FIP in 2013 compared to a 3.71 ERA. This means that he outperformed his peripherals. Additionally, hitters had just a .269 BABIP against Tillman, which is a number that he will be hard-pressed to maintain.

    Based on these indicators, it would not be surprising to see Tillman with an ERA above 4.00 next season.

A.J. Griffin

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    In his first full season as a starter for the Oakland Athletics, A.J. Griffin put up a 14-10 record to go along with a 3.83 ERA. Oakland would be very happy if he could repeat that performance in 2014.

    However, it might not be possible for Griffin to do so, as some of his numbers point to a regression. During the 2013 season, Griffin posted a 4.55 FIP, which indicates that he was a bit lucky last year. The fact that hitters only had a .242 BABIP against him also indicates the same thing. Additionally, Griffin allowed home runs on 12.5 percent of fly balls hit against him in 2013.

    Coupled with the fact that Griffin was dealing with some elbow issues in the playoffs last season, there should be some cause for concern that he will regress in 2014.

Domonic Brown

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Phillies had given Domonic Brown multiple chances to prove what he could do in their outfield since 2010, but things did not really come together until the 2013 season. Brown hit .272 with 27 home runs and 83 RBI.

    Those numbers could be difficult for Brown to repeat next season. One reason that could explain Brown's power numbers is the fact that 19.3 percent of the fly balls that he hit were home runs. That stat is on par with players such as David Ortiz and Jose Bautista.

    Additionally, when Brown put the ball in play last season, it was only a fly ball 34.7 percent of the time. This number is right around his career average. It will be difficult for Brown to sustain his home run numbers if his HR/FB rate drops and he does not significantly increase his fly-ball rate.

    As a result, Brown could have more long fly balls that are caught by outfielders, therefore reducing his batting average, home runs and RBI.

Mike Napoli

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    The addition of Mike Napoli was one of the keys to the Boston Red Sox's run to the World Series. Boston has brought him back, and they are hoping that he can repeat his production in 2014.

    However, the Red Sox may be in for a bit of a letdown. Last season, Napoli hit .259 with 23 home runs. There is a strong chance that Napoli's batting average will drop next season based on his BABIP. He had an unsustainable .367 batting average on balls in play, and as that falls, so will his average.

    One reason that could explain why Napoli had such a high BABIP is his line-drive percentage. It jumped up to 24.4 percent last season, which is well above his 19.4 percent career average.

    Another cause for concern with Napoli should be his rising strikeout rate. His 187 strikeouts last season led him to have a career-high 32.4 percent strikeout rate.

    While the power will likely still be there for Napoli next season, his other numbers may very likely drop off. Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal notes that the Red Sox are going to need to take note of possible player regressions heading into the 2014 season.


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