Watching John Danks last two starts of 2008 (his 1-0 shutout of the Twins in a one-game playoff, and his postseason win over the Rays), and his first three starts of 2009, you would have thought that he was ready for Cy Young contention.
But something happened on the way to greatness for Danks.
John Danks, 2009 season
Danks finished 2009 strong, posting a 3.01 ERA and an opponents OPS of .737 over his last 11 starts, with a couple of well-pitched gems in that run. Whether he can maintain that form and approach All-Star status makes him One To Watch For in 2010.
What was the biggest issue that plagued Danks in 2009? The numbers show that Danks had as much trouble getting the leadoff man in an inning out as any pitcher in the majors.
Highest OBP allowed when leading off inning
2009 season (minimum 150 batters faced)
Danks didn’t pay the price as much as his colleagues did, primarily because of his means of working his way out of jams. Opponents hit just .205 against him with runners in scoring position, and just .139 against him with two outs and runners in scoring position last season. Asking him to duplicate that will be difficult, so it will be up to Danks to figure out a way around his first-batter struggles, if he hopes to perform better in 2010.
One last note on Danks for those who follow such trends. Among ERA qualifiers, Danks had the second-best batting average on balls in play in the majors last season - .269. That may be attributable to some good luck, or good defense, or may be indicative of how Danks will fare. Time will tell as we take watch of him in 2010.
CATCHING SOME BREAKS
Lowest BABIP in 2009 season
Among pitchers with 162+ IP