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David Price and History

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Last night was David Price's fourth start of the year. Odds are, he's going to finish with more than 20, probably more than 25. His per nine ratios are 8.53 walks (!!!) and 12.32 strikeouts (!!!). The walks are concerning despite the freaking ridiculous strikeout rate. We're a long way from finishing the season so it's hard to read too much into the ratios, but what if Price does end with those totals, how does it bode well for his future success?

Warning, small sample size ratios taken way too far for mostly fun lies after the jump.

I ran the query that required at least 15 starts in one season with a strikeout per nine ratio over 10. I then ordered descending by the amount of walks per nine given up. I then dumped all of those pitchers with walks per nine ratios under 2.5. Let's be realistic, it's highly unlikely Price gets below 3 per nine.  Here's the list of pitchers with +5 BB/9 seasons to go with their 10+ K/9 ratio:

 

Season Debut Year Starts First Last IP BB9 SO9
1987 1986 25 Bobby Witt 143 8.8 10.1
1991 1988 33 Randy Johnson 201.3 6.8 10.2
1992 1988 31 Randy Johnson 210.3 6.2 10.3
1977 1966 37 Nolan Ryan 299 6.1 10.3
1976 1966 39 Nolan Ryan 284.3 5.8 10.4
2003 2002 24 Oliver Perez 126.7 5.5 10
1959 1955 23 Sandy Koufax 153.3 5.4 10.2
1960 1955 26 Sandy Koufax 175 5.1 10.1
1972 1966 39 Nolan Ryan 284 5 10.4

Bobby Witt, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Oliver Perez, and Sandy Koufax; or in other words, two of the best left-handed starters in history, a pretty right good righty, one sorta decent pitcher, and one pitcher who never overcame the walks.

Witt -1987 was Witt's second season with 20+ starts. In the year prior he posted a 9.93/8.16 split. In 1988 the strikeouts and walks would both drop. He would average ~7.6/5.2 over the next tow years.

Johnson - 1991 and 1992 were the third/fourth seasons with 20+ starts for the newest 300 game

winner. Prior to theses seasons his strikeout rate sat below 8, un-Unit-like. In 1993 Johnson would start on a career path that will have him enshrined in Cooperstown one day soon.

Ryan - 1976 and 1977 years five and six of starting 20+. Ryan would toil with high walk rates throughout his career but mostly quenched them after 1979.

Perez -2003 was the first real season for Perez, and he looked to have clicked in 2004, has proven otherwise since.

Koufax - 1959 and 1960 were the second and third years in which Koufax made 20+ starts. In 1958 Koufax posted a 7.43/5.96 split and in 1961: 9.47/3.38.

In stature, Price most resembles Johnson. I would say in appearance, but good grief Price doesn't have the face or haircut of a yeti.  Kevin Kennedy brought up Price's landing foot and how he wasn't landing on the ball of the foot. A bit eerie given the other similarities between Price and Johnson, but if you're unaware, Nolan Ryan report

edly told Johnson to land on the ball and not the heel of his landing foot, which then changed Johnson's world. I don't know how accurate of analysis that is by Kennedy, and I would imagine someone on the Rays payroll would know better than him, but there's the anecdotal connection.  

We see real improvements in the 3rd, 5th, 2nd, and 4th years. If Price were to average those, he would be a stud come 2011, right around the time he'll be reaching arb eligibility. That's just...fantastic.

Encouragingly, Price's walk rates were never this poor in the minors or even his relief stint last year. There's a good chance his strikeout rate goes down too. Both of those things would make this post irrelevant, but that's the risk you sometimes run when looking forward based on a small sample size.

Besides, does anyone remember Scott Kazmir's first seven starts in the majors?

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Here are the remaining results of the query:

 

Season Debut Year Starts First Last IP BB9 SO9
1987 1986 25 Bobby Witt 143 8.8 10.1
1991 1988 33 Randy Johnson 201.3 6.8 10.2
1992 1988 31 Randy Johnson 210.3 6.2 10.3
1977 1966 37 Nolan Ryan 299 6.1 10.3
1976 1966 39 Nolan Ryan 284.3 5.8 10.4
2003 2002 24 Oliver Perez 126.7 5.5 10
1959 1955 23 Sandy Koufax 153.3 5.4 10.2
1960 1955 26 Sandy Koufax 175 5.1 10.1
1972 1966 39 Nolan Ryan 284 5 10.4
2001 1998 28 Kerry Wood 174.3 4.7 11.2
1966 1961 28 Sam McDowell 194.3 4.7 10.4
2000 1997 30 Bartolo Colon 188 4.7 10.1
1998 1998 26 Kerry Wood 166.7 4.6 12.6
1973 1966 39 Nolan Ryan 326 4.5 10.6
2000 1999 16 Octavio Dotel 125 4.4 10.2
1965 1961 35 Sam McDowell 273 4.4 10.7
2003 1998 32 Kerry Wood 211 4.3 11.3
1997 1995 33 Hideo Nomo 207.3 4 10.1
1997 1986 29 David Cone 195 4 10.2
2007 2004 34 Scott Kazmir 206.7 3.9 10.4
1994 1988 23 Randy Johnson 172 3.8 10.7
1991 1966 27 Nolan Ryan 173 3.7 10.6
2004 2002 30 Oliver Perez 196 3.7 11
2008 2003 25 Rich Harden 148 3.7 11
1987 1966 34 Nolan Ryan 211.7 3.7 11.5
1995 1983 18 Sid Fernandez 92.7 3.7 10.7
1989 1966 32 Nolan Ryan 239.3 3.7 11.3
1995 1995 28 Hideo Nomo 191.3 3.7 11.1
2004 2002 21 Mark Prior 118.7 3.6 10.5
1993 1988 34 Randy Johnson 255.3 3.5 10.9
1998 1984 33 Roger Clemens 234.7 3.4 10.4
2008 2007 33 Tim Lincecum 227 3.3 10.5
1990 1966 30 Nolan Ryan 204 3.3 10.2
1997 1988 29 Randy Johnson 213 3.3 12.3
2006 2004 24 Scott Kazmir 144.7 3.2 10.1
2005 2002 27 Mark Prior 166.7 3.2 10.2
1998 1988 34 Randy Johnson 244.3 3.2 12.1
2004 1995 32 Jason Schmidt 225 3.1 10
1984 1984 31 Dwight Gooden 218 3 11.4
2002 2002 19 Mark Prior 116.7 2.9 11.3
2007 2002 28 Erik Bedard 182 2.8 10.9
1962 1955 26 Sandy Koufax 184.3 2.8 10.5
2000 1988 35 Randy Johnson 248.7 2.8 12.6
1995 1988 30 Randy Johnson 214.3 2.7 12.3
2001 1988 34 Randy Johnson 249.7 2.6 13.4
1997 1992 31 Pedro Martinez 241.3 2.5 11.4
2002 1988 35 Randy Johnson 260 2.5 11.6