Believe it or not, but, loathed former Yankee, Carl Pavano, is one of the more effective pitchers in the American League. On the season, he has posted a 4.11 ERA—that’s with an impressive 3.82 FIP and 3.74 xFIP, leaving his worth at a more than respectable mark of 1.2 WAR. Essentially, in Minnesota Pavano is doing the job Brian Cashman thought he could do when he brought him to New York for $39.95 million 6 years ago.
Pavano has been successful because, as evidenced by his miniscule home run per nine mark of 0.25 (the league average is 0.94), he keeps the ball in the park and, more importantly, on the ground. On the year to date, his ground ball percentage is 49.5%, which certainly isn’t the highest figure in the league, but it is more than respectable and, when you consider that the Twins have one of the best defenses in baseball (UZR/150 of 4.5), it’s also more than enough to be effective. With a strong defense at the ready, all Pavano has to do is put the ball in play, really, and, in fact, that’s all that he tries to do. He rarely walks anyone – Pavano’s 1.37 base on balls per nine is the second lowest BB/9 across starting pitchers in the AL – opting instead to pepper the zone with strikes. Basically, Pavano lets the opposition put the ball in play, and, in turn, he keeps the ball in the park and on the ground for his defense to handle when they can. These things, together, have equalled a recipe for success for both Pavano and the Twins.
This was the pitcher Brian Cashman wanted when he inked the fragile right-hander to one of the more notable contract albatrosses in the team’s history. It’s interesting – not fun, just fascinating – to watch from a far as Pavano makes good on his talent as a Twin. It would have been nice to see that when he was a Yankee.
Photo by the AP
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