Zack Greinke certainly finds himself on the list of players who disappointed in 2010.  After posting a 2.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, while striking out 9.5 batters per nine innings in 2009, he was considered one of the elite pitchers in the game.  Unfortunately, his numbers ballooned in 2010:

10 Wins
220.0 Innings
4.17 ERA
1.25 WHIP
181 Strikeouts (7.4 K/9)
55 Walks (2.3 BB/9)
.314 BABIP

On the surface the numbers are realistic.  While the strikeouts are a huge drop from his 2009 performance, it is actually more in line with what he had previously done throughout his career.  In 2008 he had posted an 8.1 mark.  For his career, he’s at 7.6.

In 2010 he only had one month where he posted a K/9 greater then 8.0 (he had a 9.3 in July).  That’s just not the type of pitcher that he is, so don’t let one good season convince you otherwise.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him improve on last year’s numbers, but it’ll probably be a far cry from is ‘09 mark.

This helps to explain his increased WHIP in 2010, despite a consistent BABIP (he was at .313 in 2009).  The fewer strikeouts you have, the more hits you are likely to give up.  Obviously, no one is going to complain about a 1.25 mark though, are we?

The other number that jumps out at you was his strand rate, which was a below average 65.3 percent.  That’s just terrible luck, and something that you have to expect him to improve upon no matter where he pitches.

Will an improvement bring about an ERA close to his 2009 mark?  Like the strikeouts, it’s not likely, but he should be well under 4.00—and quite possibly under 3.50.  Of course, the defense that’s behind him is going to play a large part in determining this.

There have been a lot of rumblings that he is being shopped, though it is by no means a guarantee that he is going to be dealt.  He’s signed through 2012, earning $13.5 million a year, so he certainly won’t have a lack of suitors.  Then again, if no one is willing to match what should be lofty demands from the Royals, they can just as easily hold onto him and try again at the 2011 trade deadline or prior to the 2012 season.

For now, I’ve got to assume that he’s going to continue to be a Royal, but time will ultimately tell.  We’ll certainly reassess his potential as we get closer to the season, but there’s little doubt that his numbers will be better (especially in the ERA department) in 2011.

The potential lack of wins may be the only thing that separates him from being a fantasy ace, but we’ll get a better feel for that later in the offseason.

What do you think?  How will Greinke produce in 2011?  Is he a pitcher you’d want as your ace?

Make sure to check out our review of other players who struggled in 2010 and their prospects for a rebound:


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