Doug Fister, The Next Great Control Artist

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Doug Fister has never won more than six games in a single season, and has already been saddled with twelve losses this year. The former Seattle Mariner and recently acquired Detroit Tiger pitcher will never lead the league in strikeouts, and it’s unlikely he’ll ever win a Cy Young. Yet despite the surface obstacles, Fister might just be the next great control artist.

To-date, Doug Fister has logged 387 innings over the course of three seasons–most of which in 2010 (171 innings) and 2011 (155 innings). During that span, the right-hander owns a career 3.81 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 2.76 K/BB. Despite posting a below-league-average 5.07 K/9, Fister also boasts an outstanding 1.8 BB/9. That’s slightly better than Roy Halladay‘s career 1.84 BB/9, and the exact same as Mr. Control himself, Greg Maddux.

At age 27, Fister still has plenty of room to grow. His increased velocity in just two seasons across the boards (1.5 MPH more on his fastball, 4.4 MPH more on his slider, 0.6 MPH more on curveball, and 3 MPH more on his change-up), is proof of this. He’s also been a better control pitcher in the Majors Leagues than he was in the Minors (career 2.1 BB/9), with his 3.0 BB/9 in 2004 (Double-A) being the height. Fister’s ability to limit walks also goes hand-in-hand with his good ground-ball rate (career 46.1%) and general homerun stinginess (4.1% HR/FB in 2011).

In terms of value, Fister’s fastball has been worth 14.5 runs above average, placing him within the top ten in the American League. That’s better than David Price, Ricky Romero, Michael Pineda, Brandon Morrow, and many other big strikeout pitchers. In addition to his fastball, Fister’s curveball has been worth 3.0 runs above average, and his change-up 2.8 runs above average. FanGraph’s has also calculated Fister’s WAR at 3.2, which again places him among the top ten in the American League. To give you a better idea of how well he’s pitched this season, the dollar equivalent to his 3.2 WAR would be $12.9 million.

Again, Doug Fister will and should never be in the same conversation as modern-day or past-greats, but in terms of possessing unique command and subsequently giving his team a chance to win, the guy certainly deserves more recognition.

Any statistical information taken from Baseball Reference and Fan Graphs.


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