Glenn Sparkman’s Impressive Ability to Limit the Home Run


There are certain numbers that can almost automatically grab one’s attention when they see them. One such statistic is seeing that a pitcher allowed all of two home runs on the season. That is an impressive number in even 20 or 30 innings, but Glenn Sparkman allowed only those two home runs in 121 innings for the Wilmington Blue Rocks last season.

As it is, Sparkman has proven to do an excellent job of limiting home runs. In his career, albeit for two seasons, he has allowed all of three home runs in 157.2 innings of work. Perhaps it is no surprise that Sparkman has produced a 1.60 ERA and a 0.977 WHiP over his career, striking out 164 batters while giving up only 35 walks.

That ability to keep the ball in the park would, theoretically, mean that Glenn Sparkman should generate enough ground balls to make even Dallas Keuchel envious. However, instead of being a ground ball machine like Keuchel, Sparkman produced ground balls on only 40.1% of balls in play last year, less than the 44.5% rate that the Carolina League averaged. Instead, Sparkman was a fly ball pitcher, as 35.9% of all balls in play against him ended up skyward.

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His ability to keep the ball in the park would again make sense if he gave up soft pop flys, skewing his ratios. While Sparkman gave up a higher than average rate of infield fly balls, at 8.8%, where he truly has shined is in his ability to limit solid contact. Last season, Sparkman allowed a line drive on only 11.9% of balls in play, not far off from his career mark of 12.3%.

That ability to limit hard contact may well prove to be the key for Glenn Sparkman. As he transitioned into a starting role last year, and performed with the same level of dominance, Sparkman is likely to see another jump in level next season, heading up to the proving grounds of AA. Should he continue to limit hard contact and keep the ball in the yard at the same rate, Sparkman could put himself in position to make an impact upon the Royals future.

Glenn Sparkman has certainly impressed with his performance thus far in career. It will be interesting to see how he performs once he reaches the proving grounds of Northwest Arkansas.