Tim Hudson: Could 2013 Be His Final Year In Baseball?
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Tuesday January 22nd, 2013
When we think of consistency, there are a handful of names that come to mind. No, I’m not talking about consistency over a brief period of time. Rather, over a good part of the last decade. One name that comes to mind quite quickly is Tim Hudson (3.37 ERA, 126 ERA+ since 2002). But the same Tim Hudson that’s been nothing short of rock solid since the beginning of 2002, is beginning to decline, which fashions only one daunting question.
Will 2013 be his final year in baseball?
Tim Hudson Highlight Reel:
There are several factors to consider, but that question mainly surfaces because he won’t be under contract after this upcoming season. So what team would really want to add a pitcher approaching 38 Years old to their rotation? Very few. Further, what team would want to add an ineffective 38 Year-old? Pretty much none. Ineffective could be where Hudson’s headed if 2012 was any indication.
Well actually, on the surface Hudson didn’t have that bad of a season. He went 16-7 with a respectable 3.62 ERA and an ERA+ of 110, which nearly qualifies as a career-worst mark. Realistically, outside of a pedestrian month of May (4.73 ERA) – and a few expected hiccups throughout the season, Hudson was his same old self. But, it’s not necessarily his numbers that spark concern over his reliability in 2013 and beyond. It’s the surrounding factors that call for concern.
Of those surrounding factors, his diminishing fastball speed can be classified as one of the more concerning caveats. It’s not as if Hudson has never been much of a flamethrower, but in 2012, he took a small yet massive step back – with being below 90 Miles Per Hour (MPH) range. Yes, very scary, I know.
Hudson’s average fastball speed clocked in at exactly 89 MPH, a career-low. You wouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist baseball scout to jump to the conclusion that his age is a big reason for his velocity dip. Of course there are other components to consider, but his declining arm is the main one.
Naturally, opposing hitters found more success against his fastball than they found in recent years. They had an OPS of .680 with a slugging percentage of .333. The OPS is elevated, but he actually didn’t give up any home runs through his fastball. Thus, the nifty slugging percentage. Moreover, opponents’ ISO – which measures extra-base hits – .095 off Hudson further explains his knack to limiting anything more than singles.
However, Hudson’s off-speed pitches didn’t exactly qualify as dominant either. His sinker and curveball both were smacked around for extra bases at a higher clip than in recent years. Perhaps the velocity plunge played a role in the overall effectiveness. A slower fastball would slim the margin in MPH between his off-speed pitches.
While, his fastball wasn’t necessarily beat up what if 2012 was just a sign of what’s to come? Come next offseason, how many teams would be willing to offer him a contract if his velocity drops even more this upcoming season, and his off-speed pitches weaken even more?
Obviously, there is no definite answer to these disconcerting questions at the moment. In a few months when he’s well into the season, then yeah, we should have a pretty clear answer.
At this point, Hudson probably has a couple more years left. Worst case scenario, some team will pick him up off the scrap heap next winter if 2013 doesn’t go well. But, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be dominant again.
*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***
Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:
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Posted on January 22, 2013, in MLB Player Profiles, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged ALL-Star Appearances, Atlanta Braves, CY Young voting, jered weaver, justin verlander, national league, NL east, oakland a's, roy halladay, tim hudson. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.