On the Block: Chad Qualls
July 3, 2009 1 Comment
Via MLBTR, we learned today that the Yankees may have interest in acquiring Chad Qualls, the closer for the struggling Diamondbacks. Their interest depends on a number of other factors, namely the health of the starting pitchers (I’m looking at you, Joba’s disappearing fastball), which could necessitate a return to the rotation for Phil Hughes, and the effectiveness of Brian Bruney in the bullpen.
So far this year, Qualls has been no better than average, and probably below average, in terms of most traditional measures of relief effectiveness. He has saved 13 games in 17 chances (76%) with a 4.22 ERA, both below average marks for a closer. He’s 31 years old and his best Baseball-Reference comp is…. Scott Linebrink(?).
Why would I be happy if the Yankees acquired him and the ~$1.5M he’s owed for the rest of the year? A few reasons. First, he has walked only two batters unintentionally all season (two!). Second, for every batter he has walked, he as struck out over 14 batters, giving him an 8.16 K/9 ratio. And reason number three is that almost 65% of balls put in play against him have been on the ground. Here’s a list of guys with a higher groundball rate than Qualls (min. 32 innings):
That’s it. That’s the list. The reason you don’t know Brian Bass (assuming you know Ziegler) is simply because he’s not any good at doing anything besides keeping the ball on the ground. As I showed before, Chad Qualls is good at many things in addition to throwing groundballs, one of which is flicking sunflower seeds. According to xFIP, his ERA should be under 2.50, not the 4.22 it stands at right now.
On the surface, Chad Qualls is a nobody. Wikipedia apparently didn’t know he existed prior to 2008. Most people have never heard of him, and I’ll bet that if acquired, most of Yankees Universe will collectively say, “This guy is gonna help the bullpen?” Strikeouts, control, groundballs… I think he’ll do just fine.