Danny Duffy Could Be Even Better in 2015


Last season, Danny Duffy delivered on the promise that he would be a top starter for the Royals someday. Having come back from Tommy John surgery and completely healthy, Duffy dominated once he was brought up to Kansas City to stay, posting a 2.53 ERA and a 1.112 WHiP. Duffy was truly a case where his record was not a true indication of how good a pitcher he was.

Naturally, the question now becomes whether or not Duffy can replicate that season. Duffy was certainly better than the Royals could have hoped, and at age 25 last season, he may only be touching the surface of what he could be. Perhaps, given that he has not yet entered his prime, Duffy could be even better in the coming years.

Depending on the statistics one uses when looking at Danny Duffy, that case could certainly be made. As dominant as Duffy was last season, he had below average strikeout and walk rates. Last season, Duffy struck out only 6.81 batters per nine innings, almost a strikeout per nine lower than the league average. Likewise, Duffy walked 3.19 batters per nine, 0.3 batters more than the league average.

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Conversely, Duffy was truly helped by his defense. Last year, Duffy held the opposition to a .209/.284/.322 batting line, in large part on the strength of his .239 batting average on balls in play against. Considering the league average was .295 last season, it is likely that there will be some sharp regression in how the opposition hits Duffy next season.

The strange part about that batting line against Danny Duffy is that he was actually pitching more to contact last year, which helps to explain those low strikeout rates. The control, while not necessarily great, was the best of Duffy’s time in the majors. As he gets more comfortable with his pitches, and more secure in the knowledge that he can attack major league hitters and get them out, that walk rate may decline even further.

As peculiar as it may seem, Duffy may actually be able to pitch better next year. The Royals defense figures to be just about the same as it was last season, and if Duffy can increase his strikeouts while continuing to induce weaker contact, that 2014 season could just be the harbinger of what could be a truly special season in 2015.

Danny Duffy had an excellent season last year, turning 2014 into a coming out party. 2015 could actually be even better.