After two consecutive years of beating his FIP, Marco Estrada has come crashing back down to earth. Regression is, as they say, a pain in the ass. I don’t know if they say that, but I’d imagine they’d say that regarding negative regression.
With that in mind, Marco Estrada has shown a real ability to beat his peripheral numbers over his career and this year can be attributed to piss-poor luck. So why is Marco Estrada still a Blue Jay?
The media narrative has been Estrada’s 5.43 ERA is the reason he wasn’t attracting interest, but I’d like to assume that rival executives are smarter than that.
Estrada’s velocity across the board has been the same. He’s actually ticked up a little bit, but I doubt that’s statistically significant. He’s striking out and walking batters at around the same clip as last year. His contact rates are close enough to last year to call it a wash.
So after consecutive years of a sub-3.50 ERA, why does Marco Estrada have a 2017 ERA of 5.43?
The Luck Stats (oversimplification)
Estrada’s left-on-base percentage is five percentage points less than last year, and ten less than the previous year. Generally LOB% points to bad luck in sequencing and not any tangible change in skill. The same is true regarding Estrada’s HR/FB rate: After 8.7% in 2015 and 9.9% in 2016, Estrada has posted a 12.1% rate this year. Finally, and most noticeably, Marco Estrada’s BABIP this year is 0.323 after 0.216 and 0.234 in the previous two years. That is a lot of balls falling in for hits, given two things: Estrada’s lifetime BABIP is 0.263 and 2017’s Hard-Hit% is 29.9% or a full point lower than last year!
The Blue Jays’ front office shouldn’t have had too much difficulty convincing any team that Marco Estrada is the same pitcher that he’s always been, and just because he’s had some bad luck so far doesn’t mean that string of bad luck will continue.
So, again, why is Marco Estrada still a Blue Jay? If Jaime Garcia and Erasmo Ramirez are tradeable, so is Marco Estrada. Tampa Bay acquiring some Brent Honeywell/Blake Snell insurance would’ve made perfect sense. Seattle acquiring Estrada would’ve made equal sense. Even a team like the Cardinals could’ve taken a risk and acquired Estrada.
The only plausible reason why Marco Estrada is still a Blue Jay is because he’s coming back to Toronto next year. If this year’s trade market is any indication of Estrada’s value, there’s a very good chance that the Jays will get a 2 to 3 win player on the cheap.