Kansas City Royals Ian Kennedy Could Surprise This Season

Sep 2, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (22) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (22) pitches against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

Will Ian Kennedy Be Worth The Royals While?

As the Royals enter Spring Training, Kings of Kauffman will release a series of articles on the Kansas City Royals 25-man roster. We will be going through each individual player, including the locks, bubble players, and a few prospects. We will progress through the roster from the top down, beginning with the starting rotation.

So far, we’ve looked at Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez.

Today, we will be looking at Ian Kennedy

All statistics provided by Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Brooks Baseball

"2015 stats – 9-15, 4.28 ERA, 168.1 IP, 174 SO, 52 BB, 1.30 WHIP, 4.51 FIP2016 Steamer – 11-11, 3.85 ERA, 185.0 IP, 164 SO, 59 BB, 1.26 WHIP, 4.15 FIP"

Projected Role – Middle of the Rotation Starter

2015 Results

Ian Kennedy’s career has been somewhat of a vicious cycle. Taken in the first round by the Yankees in 2006 draft, Kennedy dominated during his first two season of professional ball, including 3 dominant starts for the Yankees at the end of the 2007 season. He then struggled mightily his next two seasons as a Yankee, both with on-field effectiveness and injuries.

In 2010, he was dealt to the Diamondbacks and his second season, turned in a Cy Young-caliber season before regressing to the pitcher he is now. That pitcher being one that misses bats and eats innings, but struggles to keep the ball in the ballpark.

He was just that in 2015, throwing 168.1 innings (keep in mind that he missed three starts), striking out 174, while giving up 31 homers.

Kennedy has always been susceptible to the long ball, giving up just over a home run per nine innings for his career. However, in 2015, Kennedy saw a drastic bump in Home Run to Fly Ball ratio, giving up a homer on over 17% of flyballs he surrendered. This was a full 4% higher than his next highest mark for a full season, as well as being 7% higher than his career mark.

This is especially curious for two reasons, the first of which being that over half of his starts took place at Petco Park, arguably the most pitcher friendly ballpark in all of baseball. To piggy back off of the first reason, these numbers were even stranger because this home run trend seemed to be a corporate thing.

The Padres found themselves in the bottom half of the National League in home runs given up and were the worst team in the NL in HR/FB%, while at the same time leading the NL in K/9.

2016 Outlook

Trying to figure out what the heck was going on at Petco Park in 2015 is a difficult task.

The Padres were a team that threw fewer fastballs than nearly any team in the league, as well striking out hitters at a higher rate than nearly every team in the league. They played half their games in arguably the most pitcher friendly park in all of baseball, were middle-of-the-pack in fly ball percentage, and despite all of this, managed to lead the league in HR/FB%

It’s hard to look at these numbers and not see a tremendous out-liar. That’s not to say that Kennedy won’t give up some fountain shots in 2016. He has a history with the long ball.

However, to think that he will give up home runs at the ridiculous rate that he did last year is unlikely.

This plays perfectly into the Kansas City Royals plans. He’ll be playing in front of the best defense he’s ever seen on a baseball field, under arguably the best pitching coach in the league (one that he already has a history with), and he’ll be doing so in the spacious confines of Kauffman Stadium.

My first thought when the Royals signed Kennedy was heck yeah, I’ll take him as a 3-4 starter.

Next: Royals Need Edinson Voluez to Repeat 2015 Success

However, when you look at his reputation and line it up with the situation he is walking into, it’s easy to get excited about what Kennedy could accomplish, if he plays to his upside.