Danny Duffy and Fun with Blind Resumes

Brian Kersey

The Royals youngster has been impressive since joining the rotation. As impressive, in fact, as some starters of much greater fame.

Blind resumes!

Okay, sort of blind. You know one of them is Danny Duffy, because you clicked on the link and saw his name and his picture and all that. You are one smart cookie. Still, quasi-blind, because you don't know which one is Duffy. I'm so tricky. But here they are, presented in order of their 2014 player ranker on Yahoo!:

IP W K ERA WHIP
Pitcher A 54 4 42 2.83 1.11
Pitcher B 49.2 5 33 3.08 1.09
Pitcher C 69.1 2 57 2.47 1.18

Two of those pitchers had DL stints, keeping their innings total in check. The third - Duffy - lost out on a rotation slot in the spring to Yordano Ventura, but entered the Royals' rotation when Bruce Chen got hurt.

Let's run that chart again, but with an extra line: Yahoo! ownership percentage.

Own% IP W K ERA WHIP
Pitcher A 15 54 4 42 2.83 1.11
Pitcher B 87 49.2 5 33 3.08 1.09
Pitcher C 87 69.1 2 57 2.47 1.18

Guess I've given away which one is Duffy, but let's keep going anyway.

So these are three pitchers. The 2.47 ERA, I can tell you, plies his trade in a dream home park for pitchers. The other two have largely neutral home parks. Overall, these three starting pitchers are right in a row in Yahoo!; no SP in any of the gaps.

Basically, Danny Duffy is performing exactly as well as - frankly, according to Yahoo!, slightly better than - Doug Fister (Pitcher B) and Andrew Cashner (Pitcher C), but is owned approximately one-sixth as much. And no, that doesn't make any sense.

Duffy has made eight starts since joining the Kansas City rotation at the start of May. On the season, he's 4-5 with a 2.83 ERA - and ERA that would be 1.43 without a pair of starts in late May in which he gave up five earned runs in each. (No, you can't do that, and you can't draw any conclusions from it. But it's fun to see.)

Duffy would have been a regular starter a couple years ago if not for Tommy John surgery - which, yes, makes him just like all the other pitchers in the world. He was touted as a No. 2 (-ish) starter, with the biggest knock being entirely unrelated to his being-a-good-pitcher parts. He briefly retired in 2010 to "reassess his life priorities," before returning to the game in June of that year. I find it hard to too significantly begrudge a 21-year-old a couple months of thinking, but some prognosticators took it as a sign of poor mental makeup, which downgraded him in a lot of scouting reports.

Outside of that, though, it's tough to find a lot to dislike about Duffy, save one tidbit that I'll get to in a moment. Since returning from his surgery last year, he's pitched to a 2.53 ERA in 19 games (13 starts). His FIP is higher, but at 3.64 it's hardly a deal-breaker. His .224 BABIP so far this year screams regression, but a bit of regression shouldn't hurt him too much.

Meanwhile, Duffy plies his trade on a Royals team that is 15th in the league in runs scored on the season, but 11th since he entered the rotation, and first in all of baseball in June. We expected the Royals to hit entering the season, and they didn't. But they are now, and I'll take (expectations)+(present) over (first month) in my equations; Duffy ought to have enough chances for wins.

Now, that tidbit. Duffy has been less than economical in his short time in the bigs thus far with the bases on balls; he's issued 4.5 per nine innings in his career, and 3.7 this year. He's only had one start without any walks so far this season. On the other hand, he's walked only one in two of his last three starts. And Duffy has at least tempered his high number of walks with a lower number of hits, which is an acceptable trade.

Duffy isn't an upper echelon starter. But he's ranked right in the area of Fister and Cashner now, and he shapes up to be in their general range or a bit lower going forward. Yet Fister and Cashner are 87-percent owned, and Duffy is 15. Maybe he shouldn't be 87. Maybe he should be 70, maybe even 60. But he definitely shouldn't be 15.

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