Vance Worley could benefit from a park switch much more than the man he was dealt for
On Thursday, we took a look at how moving out of Target Field to Citizen's Bank Park would likely have a negligible effect on Ben Revere's game. Ben Revere isn't a pitcher, though, like the player he was traded for, Vance Worley. In Worley's case, there's much more room for a change in performance, as well as reason to introduce him to AL-only owners.
Worley has spent his career to this point in a home park that benefits left-handed power. There's really not much else Citizen's Bank Park does for hitters -- except impede the production of right-handers -- but oddly, it doesn't seem to have damaged the right-handed Worley much. In fact, he has the opposite splits you would expect: right-handers have a .155 Isolated Power and 759 OPS against him, while lefties are at .126 and 705. If that reverse split were to hold up over time, it could be a bit problematic for Worley, given it's right-handers who have the advantage at Target, whereas lefties are held back by the dimensions.
Worley has all of 277 innings in the majors, though, so let's not make more of this than it currently is: an oddity in a small, but not tiny, sample. To break it down further, Worley was nearly 27 percent worse against lefties than your average pitcher in 2012, but 17 percent worse against right-handers. The latter might be troublesome, but the former isn't surprising, given the context of his previous environment. Target reduces the impact of lefties, and while Worley might not be great against right-handers, he's likely not actually the owner of a reverse split.
The 2011 season clouds things, as he was oddly dominant against left-handers, limiting them to a .257 batting average on balls in play. That could explain a lot, and means Worley is likely just a victim of small sample at the moment, as suggested.
So, what to expect from him in Minnesota? He has yet to throw a full-season of innings in the majors, in 2011 because of 50 innings in the minors, and in 2012, because of bone chips in his elbow that put him on the disabled list twice, the second time in order to clean up with surgery. He should be back and ready for the upcoming season, though, and as long as his elbow is now fine, should be able to make a push for around 200 innings -- he did throw over 180 in 2011, after all.
Worley gets strikeouts, but at just a little better than the league average. Losing plate appearances where he faces the pitcher will likely cut into that further -- Worley has struck out the ninth hitter with more regularity than any other spot in the lineup -- but he still has grounders thanks to his sinker. He's not an extreme ground ball pitcher, but when combined with the near-average punch out rates, he does well enough for himself.
So, we've got a pitcher who should be able to limit lefties better than he has in the past, this time pitching with a healthy elbow, and in the division any NL transplant should want to be plopped into, should they have to come to the AL. He's not anyone you should go chasing after early, but Worley should be a solid pick to shore up your fantasy rotation. He's a depth guy in mixed leagues, but in AL-only, try not to let him slip away if you can help it. Just don't overdo it, given there are a few questions, like health and league transition. If he gets his 180 innings, though, you can be sure that he was useful for you.