Throughout his career as a Texas Ranger, Derek Holland has been something of an enigma. Between the “dutchstache”, the impersonations, and the frustrating instances of inconsistency, Holland developed the label of an incredibly talented pitcher whose head, or lack thereof, got in the way of him ever reaching his ceiling.
Aug 16, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland (45) throws to the Seattle Mariners during the seventh inning of a baseball game at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Mariners won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Boy. What a change a season can make.
Derek Holland as emerged as one of the best starters in not only the American League, but in all of baseball. Holland’s 4.8 fWAR through 174.0 innings is good for 7th best in all of baseball amongst starting pitchers. Furthermore, Holland’s name is in the top 10 in virtually every pitching statistic amongst AL starters.
4th in innings pitched (174.0). 7th in ERA (2.95). 6th in FIP (3.06). 9th in K/9 (8.38).
Oh yeah, here’s a cool, little fact: Derek Holland’s average fastball velocity of 93.4 mph is tied for the second highest in all of the American League amongst qualifying starters. That’s nice to know.
Holland has essentially evolved into a durable weapon who could be plugged at, or near the top, of any pitching rotation in baseball, but what makes Holland’s 2013 season so damn compelling is his seemingly robotic level of consistency.
Holland has made 26 starts so far in 2013, and only once… once, has Holland had a game in which he allowed more than four earned runs (Holland’s had only two games in which he allowed more than four runs to cross the plate).
It’s not so much that this fact is remarkable on its own, as most all TORP’s could boast such a thing, it’s that this is Derek Holland who boasts this fact.
This is the same Derek Holland who was once notorious for following an undeniably dominant outing with a game in which he couldn’t make it out of the 3rd inning.
So what’s the difference this season for Derek Holland?
Limiting the damage and keeping the ball in the yard.
In 2012, Holland surrendered a rate of 1.68 HR/9. In 2013, Holland has reduced that rate to 0.67 HR/9. Additionally, in 2012, Holland posted a LOB% of 68.6%, as compared to 77.2% in 2013.
This all points to the sign that Derek Holland has finally matured as a pitcher.
In all reality, Holland has essentially reached the perfect curve of his career: Young enough to still boast elite velocity and mature enough to know what to do with it.
This is Derek Holland. The same man who signed a 5-year, $28.5 million deal in 2012.
Boy that sure seems like a bargain.