Ivan Nova‘s numbers this year are far from flattering, and we’ve covered some theories behind why he might have a 5.69 ERA this season. A changeup issue appears to be responsible for some of his homeruns, but his slider has improved his strikeout rates. He’s currently looking at a 9.55 K/9, a 1.89 HR/9, and a .393 BABIP. It’s unlikely that Nova’s BABIP could legitimately jump .100 points in one season, and if you’ve watched his starts, bloop hits and groundball singles have become a common occurrence. As his BABIP regresses, I expect him to figure out his homerun issues, but also expect to see hitters figure out his slider. Patience will bring his ERA closer to that 3.47 xFIP he’s currently sporting, and there is no better team or stadium to get it started against tonight.
Nova’s major fault in 2012 is his absurd 19.2% HR/FB rate. Fortunately, O.co Coliseum ranked 26th overall in home run rates for 2011. You can blame some of those numbers on the Athletic’s hitting only 114 homeruns last year, (Yankees hit 222) but their stadium is also notorious for being a pitcher’s park. Since 2008, ParkFactors.com has ranked Oakland Coliseum the 6th best pitcher’s park out of 31 baseball stadium, allowing only 80 homeruns for every 100 homeruns in an average ballpark. The Athletics have continued their longball deficiency in 2012, currently posting only 37 homeruns, 11 of which came from the former Red Sox 4th outfielder, Josh Reddick. Another big issue for Nova has been extra base hits, and the Athletics currently have the 4th lowest isolated power in MLB, and are tied for last in the American League with a .123 ISO.
The Athletics have struggled with Nova’s weaknesses, but they’ve also struggled with his strengths. Aside from the Athletics’ inability to hit doubles, triples, or homeruns, they can’t put runners on base, meanwhile Nova has maintained a 2.9 BB/9 . With a .287 team OBP, the Athletics have the second worst rating in baseball, and the worst in the American League. Likewise, Nova’s new strikeout ability is a great matchup for the A’s, who have the second worst K% in the American League at 21.4%.
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