St. Louis Cardinals: A Look at Kevin Siegrist’s Development

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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St. Louis Cardinals
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

Loose Ends and Concluding Observations.

While Siegrist has improved his reverse-splits, there are other signs which should raise some red flags for the St. Louis Cardinals (in addition to the location issues discussed previously).

Firstly, Siegrist has had two extremely homer-prone seasons. In both 2014 and 2016, he allowed nearly 1.50 HR/9, which was among the highest rates for qualified relievers. His HR/FB rates of 12.2% and 14.1% in 2014 and 2016 respectively also ranked among the worst in the MLB.

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This problem is exacerbated by Siegrist’s fly ball tendency as a pitcher. From 2014 to 2016, 47.8% of batted balls against Siegrist were fly balls. When Siegrist is able to keep the ball in the park, like he did in 2015, this strategy is effective and Siegrist looks like one of the St. Louis Cardinals top relievers. However, when his HR/FB rate balloons, Siegrist has potential to become a late inning liability.

Additionally, Siegrist strikeout rates have declined over the past four seasons. His K/9 of 9.63 in 2016 was the lowest of his career; Siegrist’s K/9 has actually declined every season since he debuted striking out 11.34 batters per nine innings in 2013.

Furthermore, the percentage of batters which Siegrist strikes out has been declining as well. His 26.6% rate was the second lowest of his career, better only than his 26.4% rate in 2014.

The driver behind this fall appears to be Siegrist’s fastball velocity, which has fallen every season and dropped nearly a full MPH in 2016. For a pitcher who throws around 70+% fastballs, this development is obviously concerning.

St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals /
St. Louis Cardinals
Source: Brooks Baseball /

While Siegrist appears to have recognized this decline and countered by mixing up his pitch selection more than he ever had, the falling velocity is diminishing the effectiveness of what has been Siegrist’s best pitch. However, by introducing a slower curveball, Siegrist now makes deliveries at three different velocity tiers, which may help him remain effective despite a slower fastball.

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The expectation heading into 2017 is that Siegrist will continue to be employed in high leverage situation late in games. To his credit, through luck or execution, Siegrist was able to limit the damage done against him in 2016. However, it is unlikely that he will maintain his success next season without improving and refining his repertoire.