Doesn’t it seem like every pitcher on the Minnesota Twins gets batters out while never walking anyone? Now it also seems like the majority of them rarely strike batters out either, but the club still must be patted on the back for the fact that they just keep rolling arms out there, year after year, that get outs despite less than intimidating stuff. One of those arms belongs to Scott Diamond who, in his first full season in the big leagues, won 12 games over 174 innings for the Twinkies. Let’s profile the lefty from Guelph, Ontario (you might notice a fair amount of similarity in what follows to the recent Player Profile of Ross Detwiler).
Diamond started out rolling like a baller – he was Marlon Brando – with a 2.27 ERA through his first five starts, and he hit the All-Star Break with a 7-3 record, 2.62 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Unfortunately things started to even out in the second half as his record fell to 5-6 while his ratios jumped (4.31 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) when he turned into Danny DeVito. Overall Diamond went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in his 27 starts as he bettered Max Scherzer in ERA (3.74) and Jeremy Hellickson in WHIP (1.25). Despite those overall solid numbers, I’m not sold that this is someone you should be dreaming about drafting in 2013. If I had concerns about Detwiler, and you can read about those in the link above, I have even graver concerns about Diamond. Point by point.
(1) Diamond has no idea what a strikeout is. Last year he was able to convince 4.68 batters per nine innings to strike out. That’s only three batters below the league average.
(2) He walked a mere 31 batters on the year leading to a 1.61 BB/9 mark. He’s always been able to keep the walks down but he never had a single minor league stop with a number that low, and his career number in 600 minor league innings is 2.84. We therefore have to expect that number to rise in 2013.
(3) His line drive rate of 21 percent was higher than the league average (19 percent).
(4) His HR/F ratio of 11.4 was higher than than league average (9 percent).
(5) His BABIP was .292, right on the league average.
Nothing in any of that says ‘this is a guy I have to have on my fantasy squad.’
So how did he have success? Much like Detwiler, Diamond is able to induce a boatload of grounders. Diamond’s 53.4 percent ground ball rate was the 4th best in the AL, and we know how guys that induce grounders with abandon can have long and successful careers (think Derek Lowe). However, it’s the only trait that he possesses that speaks to him being anything other than a borderline league average hurler. When everything goes right, as it did in 2012, then guys like Diamond can have a lot of success. When it goes wrong though, you end up with a Rick Porcello type effort (4.59 ERA, 1.53 WHIP and just 107 Ks in 176.1 IP). And that’s the obvious rub with Diamond. If he can’t rediscover the two strikeouts per nine innings that he left in the minors when he joined the Twins he’s just not going to be someone who is consistent enough to be a weekly starter in the fantasy game. When ground ballers are on, they can dominate for months at a time. When that balls leaks up over the plate, they get beaten back to the Middle Ages.
Could Diamond repeat his 2012 effort in 2013? Sure he could. Would I bet money that he would? No I would not. Would I draft him in a mixed league? No I would not. Would I target him in an AL-only league? Again, I would not. Diamond is one of those arms that is best left for the real world versus being someone you would be interested in building a staff around in the fantasy game.
NOTE: Former Twins’ right hander Scott Baker is no longer in the fold after signing a 1-year, $5.5 million deal to join the Cubs. Coming back from Tommy John Surgery, the 31 year old isn’t likely to be ready by Opening Day, but he should be healthy enough to take the ball every five days for the Cubs early in the year.
By Ray Flowers