Key 2013 Statistics:
May 12 – June 22: 14.0 IP; 2.57 ERA; 1.071 WHIP; 3.2 BB/9; OppBA: .196; OppOPS: .621; BAbip: .237
June 24 – July 19: 6.2 IP; 12.15 ERA; 3.15 WHIP; 10.8 BB/9; OppBA: .419; OppOPS: 1.131; BAbip: .500
July 23 – Sept 29: 26 IP; 2.42 ERA; 1.308 WHIP; 4.2 BB/9; OppBA: .239; OppOPS: .661; BAbip: .304
What happened in 2013:
You’ll notice that above I didn’t provide Justin De Fratus’ cumulative season stats. You can head to his stats page on baseball reference or fangraphs if you so desire, but they really are irrelevant.
His season is more accurately examined in the context of three clearly disparate segments from his mid-May call-up until the season mercifully ended.
The beginning of his season was exciting fool’s gold, the third segment was actually promising and points towards future success, and the odd, short middle segment completely marred his season stats, despite only being 6.2 IP.
Almost HALF (9/20) of his earned runs total for the year came in those 6.2 IP – he looks like set-up man potential outside of that short period. There is also a significant difference in the levels of appropriate excitement between the longer segments on either side of this turbulent middle.
The first of these three acts could safely be considered fool’s gold. Yes, De Fratus’ ERA was very pretty, but his BB rate was average at best (3.2/9 IP), his SOs weren’t spectacular, and opposing batters’ BAbip was an unsustainably low .237. His performance then (over) corrected over the next month of the season.
His THIRD act is very encouraging, and earned. His walk rate did increase to a mediocre 4.2 BB/9, but his WHIP overall was normal (1.308) and, importantly, his opponents’ BAbip hovered slightly over league average, at .304 (indicating these performances were not overly affected by luck).
What to expect in 2014:
I expect that, assuming one major free agent reliever signing this offseason (of the set-up man variety), De Fratus is firmly planted in the low-leverage end of the bullpen. He should get a slightly larger workload in 2014, and I expect his performance to level out from the highs and lows of this past season.
In addition, although the final third of 2013 was more fairly representative of his abilities, I would expect a higher ERA, just because his WHIP and SO numbers hover more around average, than the elite level his small sample ERA (2.42) would suggest.
Overall, I’d predict a 2014 line to end up like this:
55 IP – 3.40 ERA – WHIP 1.325 – 3.8 BB/9 – 7.5 SO/9 – OppBA: .260
He should be a valuable, experienced piece of the bullpen in the next season.