Looking to 2012: Mat Latos

A lot was made of the deal which brought Mat Latos to the Cincinnati Reds. Cincy did give up prized prospects Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger to go along with Edinson Volquez, but as many of us have read, there are positives from that…and Latos.

In continuing to look at the 2012 Bill James projections, stat trends and raising questions, we’ll look at Latos and what he has accomplished in his three seasons as a Padre.


A couple of positives regarding Latos can be found in my post I published a couple of days after Walt shocked baseball with this deal, but I’ll go a little more here.

1. 200 innings
Latos would have pitched 200+ innings last season if not for starting the year on the disabled list. As it is, he threw 194.1 innings while missing two starts. Provided his health is good (and I’ve read nothing to indicate anything negative there), Latos should eclipse 200 innings this season.

And we know if he does, that means that he worked deep into games and the bullpen was “saved”.

2. Home Runs
I know what some may be thinking. Considering that you pitch at Petco Park, isn’t surrendering 16 home runs a little high? Ah. I see what you’re doing there, but the truth is…no. In fact, if you view Latos’ career splits for home and away, he has pitched more away from Petco, so using that line of Petco being a pitcher’s paradise can be taken out of the equation here.

So the total number of home ruins allowed on the road is higher, but let’s figure the HR/9 here. For the games at Petco, that translates to 0.83. For his road games, 0.81.

3. Found velocity
Thanks to reader kmassey99 for this tidbit.

If you view the overall velocity numbers for 2010 and compare them to 2011, you would notice a loss of pitch velocity across the board. I mentioned this in the aforementioned post. Well, while there is that 1 MPH drop, and as kmassey99 pointed out, Latos seemingly recovered that velocity toward the end of 2011. In fact, in his last outing, Latos almost touched 97 (96.7) and his average fastball held a velocity of 93.8 (according to Pitch F/X)

No one can deny that Latos did suffer from the effects of bursitis which had him placed on the DL early on in 2011. That led to some diminishing returns, so to speak. In fact, most numbers suffered from 2010 to 2011. Latos only appeared in 10 games in 2009, so I won’t dwell on those as much.

1. GB/FB*
I put an asterisk by this for one reason. On some stat sites, they do not figure LD% (line drive percentage) into their GB/FB ratio. Well, with GABP being a hitter’s park, I think you do have to at least consider LD% as line drives can more easily result in home runs.

With that explanation as a backdrop here, Latos owns a career GB/FB of 0.70. That may not wash at Great American.

2. Increase in contact rate within the strike zone
His Z-Contact% was 88.7% for 2011 compared to 86.7% for 2010. This could be solely due to the loss of velocity Latos suffered at the onset of 2011. Look at the opposing hitters plate discipline against him. I know I stated that his numbers were down compared to that of 2010, but this may be some slight cause for alarm. I stress…slight.

We all have kind of the idea (hopefully) that Latos was not a creation of Petco Park. In fact, he’s a equal opportunity pitcher as he pitched well at Petco and on the road. I have no visions of him posting ballooning numbers due to GABP, but I can easily see slight increases in home runs, ERA (and all those associated stats), hits, you get the picture.

I can see Latos posting the 15-9 record James projects…and maybe even a couple more wins.

Let’s not forget that Latos will benefit from GABP as well.

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