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:
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?
Here are the remaining results of the query: