What makes Angels/Greinke a fit

July, 27, 2012
7/27/12
9:11
PM ET

AP Photo/Jeffrey PhelpsZack Greinke will have the support of an offense and defense featuring Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made a bold move as the major-league baseball July 31 trade deadline approached, obtaining former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Greinke gives the Angels three of the six winningest right-handed pitchers in the majors over the last five seasons. What is the statistical impact of this trade? Let’s take a closer look.

Filling a Need
Greinke fills a significant need for the Angels. He gives them depth in the starting rotation, one in which top starters Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson have performed effectively, but all other options (most notably Dan Haren and Ervin Santana) have struggled.

The chart on the right shows how the Angels rotation has fared this season.

Greinke will be part of a very wealthy Angels starting rotation. All five of its members are receiving salaries of at least $10 million this season.

Greinke has a good history against all three of the Angels AL West rivals. He’s a combined 12-7 in his career against the Rangers, Mariners and Athletics, and his ERA is 3.00 or below against all three of those teams.

What Greinke does best is keep the ball in locations that are tough for opponents to hit. He has the highest rate of pitches in the lower-third of the strike zone or below among starters in the majors (59 percent).

Brewers Career
Greinke’s time with the Brewers was one in which he dominated opponents at Miller Park, but was not quite as effective on the road.

He was 15-0 with a 2.93 ERA in two seasons at home with the Brewers, 10-9 with a 4.41 ERA on the road. Elias notes that, as of now, the 15-0 mark is the best for any pitcher in any ballpark in major-league history

Greinke has shown signs of improvement on the road recently. He posted a 7.03 ERA in his first five road starts of 2012, but a 2.54 ERA in his last eight.

Better Than His Numbers?
There is one statistical indicator in which Zack Greinke rates better than any pitcher in baseball this season.

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), a metric tracked on Fangraphs.com, takes a pitcher’s strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed, and estimates what the pitcher’s ERA should be, if everything else behind him was league-average.

Greinke has a 3.44 ERA this season, but his FIP is a major-league best 2.50. That’s because he ranks ninth in the National League in strikeouts-per-nine innings (8.9) and has the fourth-lowest home run rate (0.5-per-nine).

Greinke will be going from a team that ranks 20th in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved to a team that rates seventh-best, and one that has two of the highest-rated centerfielders in the majors in Defensive Runs Saved in Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos.

The Brewers defense had struggled behind Greinke. Based on video review, the Brewers made defensive misplays or errors on eight percent of the balls in play against him this season. By comparison, Angels defenders have only made misplays or errors on four percent of the balls in play against Weaver and seven percent of the balls in play against Wilson.

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