You heard me right. Doug Fister, in 24 games started, has already been worth 2.9 wins above replacement in 2010. This might not be so surprising now, after all of the early season Fister buzz, but this is a pitcher that very few of us even had on our radar at the beginning of 2009. And it’s easy to see why – he isn’t exactly the most exciting pitcher in the world, is he? He doesn’t throw hard, he doesn’t strike that many guys out (excluding August), and his stuff as a whole just isn’t that impressive. However, he throws a ton of strikes and doesn’t walk very many hitters, and he’s found a way to turn that skill-set into a 3 win player. For comparison, that 2.9 WAR puts him right between John Lackey (3.0), and Shaun Marcum (2.8) on the MLB leaderboard.
When you look past the 5-11 record, you can see that he’s taken some significant steps forward in 2010 as well. Over a career high 145.1 innings, he’s posted a lower xFIP than he did last year, at 4.22, while dealing with significantly worse luck on balls in play, allowing fewer walks, and inducing more ground balls. Take a look at the numbers:
2009: 4.50 xFIP, 2.21 BB/9, .277 BABIP, 79% LOB, 41.3% GB
2010: 4.22 xFIP, 1.86 BB/9, .308 BABIP, 68% LOB, 49.5% GB
Will he ever be an ace? No, probably not – aces with Fister’s skill-set are extremely rare. However, if he’s legitimately turned himself into a 3 win starter, he and Jason Vargas should form a solid middle of the rotation in 2011 and beyond.