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ASU Baseball: Breaking Down Trevor Williams Performance

2020 has been a lot. All of the grand plans from January and February quickly fell to the wayside in March and, for many, completely fell apart and made 2021 a desired reset. This belief probably is held by former Sun Devil and current Pirate Trevor Williams.

Let’s get all of the baseball card stats out of the way here...It is not pretty… In 11 games played this year, the righty has a 6.18 ERA in 55.1 innings pitched with 49 strikeouts that concluded with a 2-8 record.

Williams was with some familiar company as the former Sun Devil tied with Pac-12 alum Matthew Boyd of the Detroit Tigers for 15 long balls given up, the most in baseball. Now giving up a lot of home runs is not exactly a “bad” thing; Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander gave up the third most in 2019 and walked away with the prestigious award. Williams found success early on into the year, 1-4 in five starts into the year with an ERA of 3.70. Then the Chicago White Sox and their offense really shook him up. A six-inning eight-run affair started a brutal second half for the Pirate. 27 runs were recorded against him, along with 11 home runs. His final start of the year was much better, three hits, one run in 5.2 innings, and his second win of the season against the Chicago Cubs.

The starter really was arguably out there on his own this year. The Pirates had the lowest OPS in baseball and averaged slightly more than 3 runs a game when he was pitching. Also, reliability around the diamond and in the outfield was non-existent as the Pirates field percentage was the second-lowest in all of baseball at .978, a point behind the Red Sox and two points ahead of the Yankees.

Now that we’ve gone through the “baseball card stats,” here’s something to mentally chew on.

First, Williams continued to improve his strikeout percentage by over a point from last year. Also, yes, his walk rate also improved, but Sun Devil fans will remember walks are not something he is normally responsible for as he has 40.1 innings of not recording a walk back in his Sun Devil days.

Second, even with the out of this world home run rate, he substantially improved his ground ball rate by over seven percent. The issue was his fly ball to home run percentage skyrocketed by almost 10% to an unsustainable 24.2%.

Third, the new curveball was really, really effective. Since 2017 Statcast has followed something of a curve, the righty had used very rarely until 2020. The pitch was used almost eight percent this year after being used less than one a year prior. The righty has used his sinker at a decreasing rate since coming up to The Show, and now having a fifth reliable offspeed pitch could make the difference for future success.

Williams is still very young when it comes to major league success and when it hits, which is hard to believe, considering he has been in the league for five years now. Expecting him to struggle at this rate is not likely, and has shown potential to be a third or really good fourth spot pitcher. He is only two years away from having a 2.7 fWAR. If the fixes are done, expect some dominant games from the former Sun Devil.

Trevor Williams attended Arizona State from 2011 to 2012 and was an Honorable mention All-Pac-10 and a First Team Pac-12 All-Conference selection in 2012 with an ERA of 2.05