Edwin Jackson: a Second Look


I’m always tinkering with my projections and rankings (earlier today, I made adjustments to the RP projections/rankings). Via reader email, I was prompted to take a second look at Edwin Jackson after I saddled him with a 1.40 WHIP and 4.57 ERA based on a 7.60 K/9, 3.29 BB/9 and a .311 BABIP. Sticking a guy with a .311 BABIP can be grounds for cruel and unusual punishment, but we’ll get to that in a bit. After digging around and reexamining the evidence, I have adjusted my Edwin Jackson projection and propelled him up the SP rankings. He went from being un-ranked to No.54. Adios Kyle Drabek, we hardly knew ye. Make the jump for some interesting E.J. analysis.

I hate to do this, but we’re linking to an article from ESPN that describes the mechanical adjustment Don Cooper applied to Jackson’s delivery:

Chicago White Sox right-hander Edwin Jackson credited pitching coach Don Cooper on Thursday for making a minor adjustment that produced big results in Jackson’s debut with his new team. In his first game since being traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks for Daniel Hudson and a prospect, Jackson allowed one run in seven-plus innings on Wednesday in a 4-1 win over the Detroit Tigers.

“It was just a matter of standing tall and not collapsing on my back side, which allows me to be more around the plate, and have a better angle on the ball,” Jackson said on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “It wasn’t like a major mechanical thing. It was something small, which normally it is. “With position players or pitchers, it’s normally something small, but it helps in a big way.”

Standing tall. It helped The Rock overtake the small town casino boss/drug dealer and now it’s helping Edwin Jackson throw more strikes. Looking at his Arizona and Chicago splits, there was a clear difference in the percentage of strikes thrown. Jackson also showed an improvement in Whiff%.

The increased Strike and Whiff percentages weren’t the only changes/improvements we witnessed. After the trade Jackson threw less Fastballs and basically stopped throwing his Curveball in favor of his Slider. His Fastball usage rate fell from 62% to 54%, his Curve usage rate fell from 4.1% to 1.1% and his Slider usage rate increased from 25.9% to 36.1%. Considering his Slider generates the most Whiffs (20.8%), this was a welcome change. Also (yes, there’s more) if you look at Jackson’s PitchFX charts, you can see his Fastball increased in Velocity after the trade. Usually when a Pitcher throws harder he loses movement, but Jackson’s horizontal movement actually increased. This helps explain the increased Whiff% on his Fastball. His Slider too increased in Velocity, but it did lose some of its sinking action. The tradeoff didn’t appear to affect the results.

So we have a Pitcher who made a mechanical adjustment, started throwing more strikes and generated more Whiffs. My original projection was way off base. The question remains, how much improvement should we expect from Jackson in 2011? I went the semi-aggressive, yet safe route and used a 7.97 K/9, 2.79 BB/9, 10.4 HR/FB% and .306 BABIP (his career average for BABIP, it was .308 while in Chicago). I can’t pay for the 9.24 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9 from his two-month stint with Chicago. Those totals were boosted from one outstanding month of August, he cooled down in September (7.51 K/9, 2.35 BB/9). I think my projection leaves a little room for profit while it remains aggressive enough for us to draft Edwin before someone else snatches him up. 2011 Projection: 186 K, 1.30 WHIP, 4.07 ERA, 14 W (210 IP)

Strike and Whiff Percentages were provided by Texas Leaguers