Number 2: Wade Davis
|Wade Davis age 28-30||1.18||47||0.89||182.2||33.1||8.4||5.74||6.3|
|Craig Kimbrel age 28-30||2.44||57||0.91||184.1||42.3||10.4||5.14||6.0|
|Difference in Performance (Kimbrel – Davis)||+1.26||+10||+0.02||+1.9||+9.2||+2.0||-0.6||-0.3|
|Wade Davis age 31-32||3.27||81||1.1||124||31.2||10.7||2.27||2|
Wade Davis’ run from 2014 to 2016 was nothing short of phenomenal. Pitchers simply don’t maintain ERA’s that close to one for three consecutive seasons. At first glance, it seems like Kimbrel’s performance over the past three seasons isn’t at the same level as Davis’ stretch at the same age.
However, when you look beyond ERA, it becomes apparent that these two weren’t all that far apart. Kimbrel’s FIP- is very close to Davis’ and Kimbrel actually outperformed Davis in both xFIP and SIERA. That makes a lot of sense when you look at the AL East lineups from the past three seasons and the dimensions of Fenway Park and compare those to the conditions that Davis pitched in.
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In any event, Davis’ last two years have not been as kind to him as 2014-2016 were. That’s not to say he’s been a bad pitcher. In fact, at a surface level, it seems like he pitched at an elite level for the Cubs in 2017. Even last year, when his ERA ballooned to 4.13, wasn’t nearly as bad for Davis as it appeared when you remember that he pitched in Coors Field half the time. But these past two years have still been a far cry from the dominance he enjoyed a couple years earlier. In both of the past two seasons, his xFIP has hovered around the mid threes and his walk rate has jumped above 10%.
Davis is still a very good pitcher and one I would love the Red Sox to have but he is not who he was when he left the Royals. This is the kind of realistic decline I would expect Kimbrel to undergo over the next few seasons. Kimbrel’s probably too good to fall off a cliff, but if walks continue to be an issue he could easily fall into being a very good reliever instead of a great one and that’s not how he will be paid. This would be far from the nightmare scenario, but it’s also not ideal.