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Look past ERA and Chad Qualls can be a free agent bargain

Nov 12, 2010, 1:18 PM EDT

chad-qualls-rays AP

With a 7.32 ERA in 59 innings split between two teams Chad Qualls had a dreadful season, but most of that can be blamed on a .399 batting average on balls in play that was the worst in all of baseball among the 327 pitchers who logged at least 50 innings.

In fact, Qualls was one of just two pitchers with a batting average on balls in play above .375. Qualls could be unlucky again in 2011 and that number would still probably drop by 40 points, and his career mark is .309.

Thanks to a solid strikeout rate and high percentage of ground balls he posted a nice-looking Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) of 3.91, which is typically a better predictor of future ERA than ERA itself. And both his xFIPs and ERAs were consistently in the 2.75-3.50 range from 2004-2009.

Even while struggling Qualls maintained good velocity on his fastball-slider combo and if teams can avoid being scared off by his ugly ERA there’s a quality setup man to be found in Qualls’ track record and secondary numbers.

  1. icanspeel - Nov 12, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    He’d probably put up decent numbers if he went to the Padres and pitched at Petco for the year. Seems that is the best place to go for 1 year to build up numbers for a contract elsewhere.

  2. Ick McWang - Nov 13, 2010 at 12:15 AM

    i’m probably one of the few Rays fans who would love to see him back. unless he has completely fallen under the bus, his career numbers suggest a strong year next year. this year is waaaaaay out of the norm for him

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