Looking into the Marlins' Groundball Pitchers: Chris Volstad


The last player I’m going to look at in this series is Chris Volstad.  Now he doesn’t fit the mold in that he’s both not a prospect and far from being underrated, but I thought it would be a good idea to look at him because of the season he had last year.

Taken with the Marlins first pick (16th overall) in the 2005 draft, he was instantly rocketed up top lists.  Going into 2006, he was ranked #4 in a stacked Marlins system by Baseball America (#97 overall), 5th by Sickels witha B+ grade.  After putting up a 3.08 ERA for Greensboro, as well as a thinning out of talent due to promotions, he was ranked #1 by Baseball America going into 2007 (#40 overall), 2nd by Sickels with a drop in grade to B.  2007 was a bit rocky, as he saw his ERA rise to 4.16, but he was still ranked #1 by BA (#58 overall) and 4th by Sickel’s (still B).

And while he certainly had the projectability that the scouts loved, his peripherals suggest he was likely overrated as a prospect.  Take a look at his numbers compared to the average for GB pitchers:

Level Volstad K/9 Average K/9 Volstad BB/9 Average BB/9 Volstad HR/9 Average HR/9
Low A 5.86 6.46 2.13 2.41 0.71 0.58
High A 6.64 6.55 2.64 2.70 0.57 0.47
Double A 5.45 6.73 2.69 2.96 0.27 0.59

Now it’s certainly of note that Volstad has been young for the leagues.  And while he’s BB rates and HR rates overall are just a hair under the average, his K-rate (5.97) is a decent chunk under (6.58).  Still, his K/BB (2.40) is barely just under the average (2.45).

And if you then compare how he has done against the average GB pitcher at the ML level:

K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Volstad career 5.88 3.51 1.18
2009 average 5.64 3.40 0.85

The HRs stick out, thanks to last season.  But neutralizing his HR/FB to 10.5% gives us 0.92 HR/9.  So this certainly brings up a major question: Is Volstad nothing more than an average ground ball pitcher?  This certainly isn’t a bad thing, as the average one finished with a 4.33 ERA last season.  But it would mean he was overrated.  At just 23 next season, he has a long time to fill the “projectability” all the scouts gave him, and he’ll certainly be given the opportunities to do that.  But don’t be surprised if Volstad never becomes more than a mid-to-back rotation starter.

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Tags: Chris Volstad Miami Marlins

  • Michael Jong

    John,

    The series is great, and you spotlighted I think all of us Marlins fans are interested in. I did want to ask (and I figured everyone else would also want to know) how you determined the average ground ball pitcher.

  • John Herold

    Michael,

    They were pulled from one of Bryan Smith’s article from Fangraphs regarding GB pitchers:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/staring-down-the-sinkerballers-part-three/

    • Michael Jong

      John,

      Excellent, thanks. That too is an excellent series.