The Tommy Layne Hype Is Premature

Tommy LayneThe Boston Red Sox have fallen in love with left-handed relief pitcher Tommy Layne since he’s joined the team. The hype he’s getting is justified considering his All-Star season down in Pawtucket and his deceptive delivery. To show you what I mean, here’s a video of Layne pitching in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=34587875&sid=milb
As you should be able to see, Layne hides the ball behind him until the last second. This makes it more difficult for hitters to determine which pitch is being thrown, and, obviously, gives batters a tougher time making proper adjustments to put a good swing on the ball.

He passes the eye test with relative ease and his traditional stats aren’t too shabby, either. Through just seven and 1/3 innings this season in the majors, the southpaw has compiled a stellar 1.23 ERA. Now, this is certainly too small of a sample size to pass proper evaluation on, but as Sabermetrics have taught us, minor-league numbers are an effective tool to project future performance, as well.

So, Tommy’s 1.50 ERA and 2.74 FIP in 48 innings of work in Triple-A Pawtucket this year have substance to them, yet only in proper context. It’s imperative to look at the 29-year-old’s unsustainable .244 BABIP, 0.19 HR/9, and 86.4 LOB% with Pawtucket (Note: MLB average is a .296 BABIP, 0.88 HR/9, 73.0 LOB%), and realize he was the recipient of quite a bit of luck. Unless Layne has fairy godparents there’s no way he’ll be able to continue to perform at such a high-level with those numbers.

I feel, rather, the Tommy Layne with the mediocre peripherals and non-MLB-worthy ERA — which we’ve seen frequently in his professional baseball career — has a much better chance of surfacing than the one we’ve witnessed throughout 2014.

However, baseball is a game of mysteries, and, truthfully, anything can happen. Pitchers can (and do all the time) hone their craft to improve whatever aspect of their game they lack with proper coaching and a willingness to adjust.

So, no, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Layne flourish, but it would be very unconventional for him to do so with such poor and untenable statistics. He could be a gem for Boston, and fulfill a glaring projected need in ’15. Nonetheless, it’ll be interesting to see how Layne performs the rest of the season.

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