Derek Holland and Ridiculous Expectations

"I'm sorry." - Wrigley

“I’m sorry” – Wrigley

Since Ian Kinsler left via trade in late 2013, the Dutch Oven has been the most polarizing player on the Texas Rangers. So what prompts fans to call for the front office to demand Holland to be demoted, traded or designated for assignment over and over again?

Before we give you a several reasons for the Holland hate, let’s do an exercise. Look at these two oft-injured starters’ numbers for their Rangers career:

Player A: 76-65, 4.65 ERA, 95 ERA+, 4.38 FIP, 7.2 K/9 and 8.6 bWAR in 9 seasons

Player B: 60-45, 4.29 ERA, 102 ERA+, 4.19 FIP, 7.3 K/9 and 10 bWAR in 8 seasons

Clearly, while both players are similar, Player B holds the edge.

You probably know by now, but Player A is Colby Lewis and Player B is Derek Holland. While Lewis is adored by nearly all Rangers fans, while it appears Holland’s followers are fewer than House Mormont’s able soldiers.

Come Let Us Count the Ways

Let’s take a look at a few reasons (other than stupidity):

  1. Personality: Media and fans alike say they like to see players have fun and give interesting interviews until said players actually do. Derek is a great example of this as he does fun radio interviews, in-game interviews and even the weather for WFAA-TV. Oh and the impressions. How could we forget to mention the impressions? Much like what they did with Kinsler, the local media tends to make more of Holland having fun to incite readers and viewers alike.
  2. Injuries: Shortly after Kinsler was traded for Prince Fielder, the reports came out that Holland had tripped over his dog, Wrigley, and would miss much of the 2014 season. Three straight seasons of 175+ innings were now a distant memory as fans were incensed at Holland, but more so out Wrigley. Is this the face of a monster? A shoulder injury derailed Derek’s 2015 season as he was limited to only 10 starts.
  3. Unreasonable Expectations: Holland was on several top 100 prospects list in 2009 including No. 40 by Baseball Prospectus and No. 31 by Baseball America. Derek was considered anywhere from a top-of-the-rotation starter to a No. 3 starter. It would seem that the Holland haters are folks who had hopes that he would become at least a No. 2 in a solid rotation, but his numbers to this point in his career (only 29) would suggest he has been more of a No. 4.

Come Let Us Reason Together

Holland is a home-grown pitcher the Rangers haven’t been able to find on a regular basis in their history. While he is not a TORP, his value for a 25th-round pick is like hitting Powerball for the Rangers front office. Consider that he is the only MLB player that came out of the 25th round in the 2006 Amateur draft. Also, he is one of only six players the Rangers drafted that year who eventually made their way to the majors. Out of those six, he is second in value to only Chris Davis (15.9 bWAR) who was drafted in the 5th round. The only other notable player is Craig “KittenFace” Gentry who was drafted in the 12th round and has been worth 8.8 wins in his career.

While Holland’s 2016 season has not seen him return to pre-injury form of 2013, he has shown signs of improving. After Sunday’s 3-2 win over Seattle, Holland has four consecutive starts of at least six innings of work and two or less runs allowed. He also had a season-high six strikeouts. Derek’s 2016 numbers are marred by back-to-back terrible starts in which he allowed 15 earned runs in five innings of work. In his other nine starts, he has a combined 2.47 ERA.

The Dutch Oven’s 4.28 FIP is not impressive, but it does lead among Rangers starters who have pitched more than six starts. It is reasonable to expect Cole Hamels (4.88), Martin Perez (4.48) and the aforementioned Colby Lewis (4.32) to regress at the season goes on, but Holland’s ERA should continue to drop.

Come Let Us Think Before We Tweet

While it is always important to respect Twitter’s Rule No. 1, if we feel the need during a Derek Holland start, let’s remember the above numbers and give Wrigley a pass.

Until next time:

 

 

Eddie Middlebrook
Eddie Middlebrook is Senior Writer for @ballparkbanter9 and @shutdowninning. Formerly with @wfaasports and @FoxSportsSW. @IBWAA member. Eddie can be found on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

3 comments

  • My big concern with Holland this year is that he has been drastically out-pitching his xFIP. That’s usually not sustainable…BUT he has indeed been looking and pitching better.

  • 1) Excellent Game of Thrones reference.

    2) I’ve long been a supporter of Holland. He’s pushed the boundaries of my tolerance the last few seasons, but not because of his bits. It’s because he reminds me so much of Bobby Whitt – one or two games of total brilliance a season which raise expectations well beyond what he’s able to reasonably produce over a full season, and a handful of terrible starts where he doesn’t get out of the first or second inning, and the rest mediocre or better 3rd-4th starter level stuff.

    I don’t have a problem with Holland’s bits. I don’t think his orange Dumb and Dumber tux, his Wild Thing haircut or his imitations have anything to do with his pitching on the field. I’m with you – everyone says they love for their athletes to have a personality, especially the ones who have fun and enjoy themselves… until they actually see one doing it. Especially one who isn’t 100% dominant. Everyone loved Shaq and his bits and movies and rap career… most people didn’t get tired of the bits because he dominated his entire career until the last few seasons when he was old and just hanging on. Derek Holland has been dominant a few DAYS of his whole career, so when his performance doesn’t measure up to his bits, people focus on the wrong thing… on the fun he has while not on the mound, as opposed to his actual performance on the mound.

    I’m pleased to see Holland doing better this season, but I’ll admit that after his 2011 World Series, I thought he’d move up to a #2 level guy. His Game 4 was one of the most brilliant pitching performances I’ve ever seen by a Ranger, and if the Rangers had won Game 6 with his 2 innings of relief, he might have been a contender for MVP. Probably not, but he’d have been in the discussion.

    But… I’m also tired of his potential never being realized, wondering if this is finally the year that he steps up. I say unless he gives the Rangers a massive home town discount, they should let him go after this season and stop hoping for his potential to materialized.

    • Eddie Middlebrook

      Jeremy,

      Thanks for being the one person who probably got the GoT reference. I agree with everything you said right up to the point where you said to let him go after this season. He has a very team-friendly option ($11.5M) the next two seasons which would make exercising those almost a no-brainer.

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