The Post Where We Get Optimistic on Daniel Bard

'Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Daniel Bard (51)' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I know we have spoken about Daniel Bard a few times this offseason, but while reviewing projections I found one off the charts and had to look twice. The projection system was OLIVER and is a pay required system at HardballTimes.com/Forecasts. (As a THT writer I highly recommend buying this) The system projects a huge year for Bard in 160 innings as a starter, but in the comments the system seems to base a lot of that on a comparison to Alexi Ogando. This is something I had thought about before, but hadn’t taken a real look at.

A lot of the doubt surrounding Bard comes from his time spent at A Ball and High A Ball in 2007, the last time he started a game, but this was only 75 innings all at 21 years old. Ogando on the other hand had only totaled three games started before making the majors. This gave the transition less historical comparison and less doubt about ability as a starter. Is it fair to judge Bard as largely different than Ogando based on such a small data set at a young age?

Once on even footing at Double A these two players have quite a few similarities. Bard had a strikeout rate of 11.6 at Double-A and 16.3 in a very short stint at Triple-A. Ogando spent a total of 30 innings in the minors and averaged a 12.3 between Double-A and Triple-A. Combine that with both pitchers walking more than three batters every nine innings and you can see these guys as high swing and miss guys with control issues. Seemingly perfect for high pressure late game situations.

Ogando spent his first season in the majors in relief and saw a solid drop in his strikeouts to 8.42 every nine innings. This didn’t happen in Bard’s first season as he struck out 11.5 per nine, but in the following two years he averaged 9.1 K/9. In three years Bard appears to have maintained his strikeout rate better than Ogando while both continued to walk more than three batters every nine innings.

This is where we have to say how these two similar relievers will compare if Bard follows Ogando to the rotation. When Ogando moved to the rotation he again saw his strikeout rate drop to 6.7, but he was able to control his pitches more and only walked 2.3 batters every nine innings. Seems fairly obvious that while relievers won’t be striking out as many hitters they should have better control. This increase in control stems from a drop in pitch velocity for the sake of swing and miss chances.

In regards to pitch velocity Ogando had a fastball of 96 mph and a slider of 82. He also mixed in an 87 mph changeup, but this was less than five percent of his pitches. After moving to starter he dropped about 1 mph from each pitch, but kept a similar pitch selection of two primary pitches. This has been the question most facing Bard in regards to primarily throwing only two solid pitches.

Bard has thrown a 97 mph fastball and an 84 mph slider as a reliever. His changeup has seen more use over the past three seasons, but is average at best and currently 90 mph. With a bit more velocity it would seem Bard has more room to transition to starter and the big question is can he gain control and throw less walks when he makes the switch.

Something Bard has that Ogando does not is a much better groundball rate. In three seasons his ground ball percentage has averaged 48 percent. Ogando had a 43 percent rate as a reliever, but saw a drop when moved to the rotation and had a 36 percent rate. Is this an effect of moving to the rotation as well? I can’t say why this would happen, but perhaps his pitches moving a bit slower resulted in less downward movement and more fly balls resulted. Again Bard has a better starting point than Ogando and should see better results even in a starting role.

The projections don’t yet see trouble for Bard and OLIVER might be the most optimistic with an ERA of 3.10 and 4.3 WAR. I still feel odd reading that and have to temper my expectations, but Ogando has a positive effect on what we can expect from Bard this year. Even a rough start might not get him sent to the pen as the team seem to be commited to this idea and Bard wants this chance. It would seem they would have to be thorough in his opportunity and we shall see how things turn out, but how good could the Red Sox be with their own Alexi Ogando.

Categories: Boston Red Sox Daniel Bard

After taking an interest in sabermetrics and statistical analysis Troy began trying to use it to an advantage in fantasy baseball. He started the website RotoSavants.com and also spent time at HardballTimes.com and FantasyPros911.com. After a few years the interest in the Red Sox drew him to start a Red Sox-oriented site (Yawkey Way Academy) with fellow writer Lee Perrault. A short time later he joined Fire Brand. Writer from: December 14, 2009 – July 24, 2010, March 3, 2011 – May 10, 2012.

16 Responses to “The Post Where We Get Optimistic on Daniel Bard” Subscribe

  1. ChipBuck January 26, 2012 at 10:37 AM #

    Larry Koestler of RAB and I were just talking about Bard's Oliver projections on Twitter. He brought up a really a good point. Oliver seems to be really bullish on young, projectable guys, but kinda hateful towards veterans. I think a lot of that stems from there being a wider range of possibilities from "unknown quanties" (like Bard as a starter) rather than established veterans. Still, I think it's probably best to temper our expectations for Bard despite the optimistic projection. 4 WAR in 165 innings is pretty spectacular, but I don't see it considering there will be some transitional issues he'll face along the way. 2.0-2.5 WAR is probably more realistic for 2012. If we get that, I'll be pretty happy.

    • TroyPatterson January 26, 2012 at 11:17 AM #

      I don't think I quite understand what you mean by "hateful towards veterans". Any pitcher over the age of 28 is going to get poor projections going into a new season since the aging curve demands this. Some will do better and some will do worse, but on average the projections are done right.

      Remember Bard has been a 2+ WAR pitcher in relief so assuming he can only maintain that value above replacement when adding 100 innings might not be accurate (even if those innings are thrown differently). If Bard is a 2 WAR starter meaning his FIP is around 4.5 or greater I don't think he lasts past the All Star game as a starter.

      • ChipBuck January 26, 2012 at 11:27 AM #

        "Hateful toward veterans" was an exaggeration. Obviously, the aging cuve demands less favorable projections, but sometimes they seem to be a little too unfavorable at times. By the same contrast, I think projections tend to be a little too rosy at times for young players. I don't just mean this with Oliver, but other ones like PECOTA as well.

        Also, if you look at last season, only 3 pitchers with FIPs above 4.25 had fWARs that exceeded 2. The breaking point is probably 4.25, or more conservatively 4.00 with the RE being what it is. If the Red Sox go into the season with Bard as a starter, I think they go "all in" unless he completely bombs. (Think Clay in 2008) I don't think it's wise to jerk him back and forth between the pen and the rotation. It's rarely worked out well.

        • TroyPatterson January 26, 2012 at 11:37 AM #

          My point is I would hate to pick a "reasonable" number like 2-2.5 only because it feels right. There have been plenty of relievers with high velocity stuff moving to the rotation lately and making the projection a touch easier to do.

          I mean Joba fell apart in year two, but that was injury related clearly and his year one was amazing.

          I think this offseason we have just written Bard as average to avoid making the difficult call. No one wants to say 4.3 WAR when he could suddenly go out and be John Lackey, but there is little evidence to suggest that we should just settle at 2 WAR.

        • TroyPatterson January 26, 2012 at 11:49 AM #

          I also forgot C.J. Wilson as another making the switch and dominating. Left handed and different development of K/9, but made a big jump as well.

  2. Tom K. January 26, 2012 at 2:54 PM #

    Bard has been ready for the transition to starter. The Huge collapse was Due To the HIGHLY-PAID Starters ALREADY in the rotation,Slackey aka Slacker, Bellyett aka Bellyach and Lister aka Letsbrewless! Even Booby V [ Vocal] won't impact this season as he has in his own baseball career! Daniel Bard will move forward at a greater direction than other "converter" relievers, as, D-Lowe,CJ Wilson, A-Ogando,Others,..He's decided to move forward, unlike management who still are comfortable with pitching depth are still making up their minds[ If you want to call Lunch-chin-No telling everyone decide who's going to sign as a Bargain-Basement Beauty, this is Not Collaborative thinking, It's Larry the Wanna-be GM imposing his authority on Ben-GM in a "Nice Way"] Let People do Their job and enjoy their careers and Baseball, Stop Being a Micro-manager….You can still be the calorie-counter guy, go for it! Don't worry about Bard, your concern are your Food-Revenue Wasters that are aforementioned!!!….

    • hammyofdoom January 26, 2012 at 3:11 PM #

      That… that was some of the WORST attempt at nicknames I've ever heard. You make skankees look classy and original. D-

    • ChipBuck January 26, 2012 at 3:25 PM #

      That might be the least clever/amusing comment, I've ever read.

    • @JDrimmer5000 January 27, 2012 at 1:02 AM #

      The punctuation alone is dizzying here. It's like reading the first draft of an Olde English text with all the unnecessary capitalization.

    • darryljohnston January 28, 2012 at 12:52 PM #

      HAHA Que??

  3. Gerry January 26, 2012 at 4:39 PM #

    One of the best featues of this site is that players, field staff and FO are not gratuitously insulted, and certainly not called insulting names. Perhaps Larry L is micro-managing, but we dont know that. The beer & chicken thing was hugely overblown and has the benficial side effect of Beckett, Lester and Buchholz coming to camp determined to prove just how overblown it was. The moves made by Ben to replace Pap and Bard were necessary and hold promise. A platoon of big bat Aviles and great glove Punto may be low cost, but could be very effective, as will be Ross & Sweeney, Salty & Shop. I agree that Bard could be an outstanding #3,4 or 5, but we dont know, so the insults seem uncalled for, and they trivialize the point you try to make.

    • TroyPatterson January 26, 2012 at 8:56 PM #

      I'm guessing you're talking about Tom K? Or did I insult someone?

      • ChipBuck January 26, 2012 at 10:51 PM #

        Yes, I'm pretty sure he means Tom K.

        • Tom K. February 8, 2012 at 12:05 PM #

          He meant Chipbuckaroo!

    • Tom K. February 8, 2012 at 12:21 PM #

      You are definitely biased towards anything other than your own point of view. Is it so "Beneficial" that other people took the fall for what took place in the clubhouse. No correction took place for the players who sidestepped the rules, maybe being on a late night show is the way the players, certain people and You accept it.

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    [...] issue is simply expecting Daniel Bard to smoothly transition into the rotation. Though there is plenty of reason for optimism, there is always that variable of: He hasn’t been a starting pitcher since 2008. Even if he [...]