Zack Greinke: Contact High

Zack Greinke is hanging with a bad crowd. When you think of the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, you don’t picture him mingling with fantasy hooligans like Luis Atilano, Nick Blackburn, John Lannan and Brad Bergesen. Looking at his Contact Percentages, that is exactly what he is doing. Is Greinke a bad seed or a product of his environment? Do we turn a blind eye to his actions? Do we send him packing like those lazy kids on the reality TV show, World’s Strictest Parents? Fantasy owners are growing tired of Greinke’s behavior on the mound and they have turned to Dr. Phil MDS for answers.

League’s Worst Zone Contact % (league avg Z-Contact% is 88.3%)

98.4% Brad Bergesen
96.9% Nick Blackburn
95.1% Luis Atilano
94.7% Rick Porcello
94.6% Joe Saunders
94.4% Mitch Talbot
94.3% Chris Volstad
94.3% John Lackey
94.2% Jeremy Guthrie
94.1% Doug Fister
94.1% Joel Piñeiro
93.8% Jake Westbrook
93.7% Andy Pettitte
93.6% Paul Maholm
93.4% Jamie Moyer
93.1% John Lannan
93.0% Ervin Santana
93.0% Fausto Carmona
92.8% Scott Feldman
92.7% Liván Hernández
92.1% Zack Greinke

League’s Worst Outside the Zone Contact % (league avg O-Contact% is 66.3%)

87.1% Rodrigo López
86.8% Nick Blackburn
83.9% Liván Hernández
82.5% Doug Fister
81.9% Mitch Talbot
80.8% Jeremy Guthrie
80.5% Brad Bergesen
80.2% Mark Buehrle
80.2% John Lannan
79.3% Kevin Slowey
79.3% David Huff
79.1% Wade Davis
78.6% David Bush
78.4% Kyle Kendrick
78.3% Bronson Arroyo
78.2% Tim Wakefield
77.8% Dallas Braden
77.5% C.J. Wilson
77.5% Paul Maholm
76.6% Chris Volstad
76.5% Randy Wolf
75.9% Luis Atilano
75.6% Scott Feldman
75.5% Zack Greinke

Greinke’s career average for Z-Contact% is 87.2%; for O-Contact%, his career average is 59.4%. Never in his career has he posted percentages as high as 92.1% and 75.5%. If you’re wondering why Greinke’s K/9 has fallen from 9.50 to 7.43, here’s your biggest culprit. Part of this can be explained by Greinke using his breaking pitches less often (Slider down 3%, Curve down 5%). His Fastball, Slider and Curve have also degraded in value according to Fangraphs, but I would also chalk up a lot of this to bad luck. Batters are getting lucky and making more contact. He isn’t get hit harder (17% Line Drive % is a career low, 9.0% HR/FB% is good) and Greinke didn’t all of a sudden turn into a bad pitcher.

Greinke’s control looks great on paper. His 2.03 BB/9 hasn’t changed from last year, his zone percentage hasn’t slipped and he is still throwing first pitch strikes (60.2%). I don’t think many people really expected him to replicate his ’09 numbers, but no one signed up for a 4.05 ERA and 1.30 WHIP when they paid for Greinke’s services. Really tho, it does get much worse than this when it comes to pitchers who are “struggling”. If someone wants to sell Greinke to me at a reasonable price, I’d be happy. The run support will continue to suck, but I fully expect Greinke’s K/9 to rebound and his ERA/WHIP will follow suit when that happens. I wouldn’t send him packing, I’d own up to the fact that I paid for a Royal and deal with it.