A Rule Five Review: Luis Perdomo

In my last three posts, I’ve reviewed the three successful relievers who were picked in the Rule Five Draft this past winter. Now, I’d like to turn your attention to another Rule Five pick, also a pitcher, who hasn’t really enjoyed success. However, he’s managed to remain on the Padres’ roster and has some good statistical indicators lying beneath the surface. Let’s dig in.

Luis Perdomo

Background: The St. Louis Cardinals signed Perdomo as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2010 when he was only 17 years old. Thus, he became eligible for the Rule Five Draft earlier than most, when he was only 23. Probably since he was so young, the Cardinals handled him with kid gloves up until last year; for his first three years in affiliated ball (2011-2013), he played in short-season rookie leagues, never even topping 50 innings. However, in 2014, he threw 72 innings, and then he threw 126.2 last year. I bring this up because, although his minor league performance was mostly uninspiring, they were all small samples. Last year marked a career high for Perdomo in innings, and it was also his best year. In 100.1 innings in A-ball that year, he struck out 8.97 guys per nine innings, and walked only 2.78, which helped him to a 3.68 ERA and 3.39 FIP. He was promoted to high-A after that showing, and although his ERA was poor, his FIP was an excellent 2.98 and it was in only 26.1 innings. That showing also made Perdomo enticing to the Rockies, who probably thought his strong groundball tendencies would work especially well in Coors. However, that relationship didn’t even get a chance to pan out. Before the season even began, Perdomo was traded to the Padres for an unspecified amount of cash (probably not very much).

Evaluation: This year marks another career high in innings for Perdomo, as he’s already at  134.2 on the year, so we have our largest sample of his ability yet. His strikeouts are far below average (6.75 K/9), and his walk rate is about average (3.01 BB/9). He’s allowed 1.2 HR/9, which is also around average. This doesn’t look pretty, and many have been inclined to write off Perdomo by looking at this average-ness and his 5.68 ERA. However, FIP paints a slightly better picture (4.54), probably because it expects his LOB% and BABIP to normalize. He’s allowed 32.6% of his baserunners to score, and league average is around 28%. In regards to BABIP, league average is around .297, and Perdomo’s is an absurd .354. His xFIP (3.97) and SIERA (4.01) paint an even better picture, mostly because they expect his absurd HR/FB ratio to normalize. It’s at 19.1%, and league average is around 13%. Considering that Perdomo pitches calls Petco Park (one of the most spacious parks in the majors) home, that home run rate is bound to come down to earth. It also just so happens that Perdomo has pitched way more on the road (88.1 IP) then at home (46.1 IP) this year, probably by chance.

Even though BABIP tends to regress to the mean, some pitchers (with profiles like Perdomo’s) consistently run high BABIPs. Popups are almost always an out, so if you can induce more popups, you can run a lower BABIP. Unfortunately for Perdomo, his popup per fly-ball rate is 4.3%, and the league average is more than twice that, at 9.7%. Worse, Perdomo has allowed quite a bit of hard contact this year (which, understandably, can lead to a high BABIP). Of the 96 pitchers who have thrown at least 130 innings this year, Perdomo has the 17th highest Hard%-Soft% (you want this stat to be low). Statcast agrees that Perdomo is hittable: of the 121 pitchers who have at least 300 batted ball events against them this year, Perdomo has allowed the 23rd highest average exit velocity. It’s also worth noting that, as I mentioned in my post about Dan Straily, ground-balls go for base hits far more often than do fly-balls, and Perdomo is an extreme ground-ball pitcher (the opposite of Straily). His ground-ball rate of 59.1% is the second highest amongst the 96 pitchers who have thrown at least 130 innings this year. His average launch angle against is second lowest amongst the 121 pitchers who have at least 300 batted ball events against them this year–this illustrates both Perdomo’s ability to get grounders and his inability to induce popups.

On the other hand, when I looked over his repertoire, I saw that there are some more good signs for Perdomo. His two-seamer, which he throws about 54% or 52.9% of the time according to PITCHf/x and Brooks respectively, is pretty nasty. It’s his most used pitch by either measure, and it has garnered a 63.4% or 64.6% ground-ball rate. According to the PITCHf/x leaderboards on Baseball Prospectus (which are in sync with Brooks Baseball’s data), Perdomo’s sinker ranks highly in the following stats amongst the 188 pitchers who have thrown at least 200 sinkers this year:

Rank Stat
T-25 (top 15.4%) Ground-ball Rate
48 (top 25.5%) Vertical Drop
T-34 (top 18.6%) Velocity
55 (top 29.3%) Whiffs Per Swing

It’s hard to measure horizontal movement because it works differently for righties and lefties. So, of the 138 righties who have thrown at least 200 sinkers this year, Perdomo’s sinker ranks 49th in terms of horizontal movement.

The thing is, Perdomo has thrown a whopping 1225 or 1275 (by Brooks) sinkers this year. According to Brooks, that’s the 12th most in the majors. So, given that Perdomo has thrown so many sinkers, his sample is far more reliable than most others. It also shows that he is confident with the pitch. In addition, the aforementioned sample of 188 pitchers also included relievers. Perdomo has pitched predominantly as a starter this season (19 games started, 15 relief appearances), so his numbers look even better if we reduce the sample to include only starters. Here is where his sinker ranks among the 116 starters who have thrown at least 200 sinkers this year:

Rank Stat
T-7 (top 7.8%) Ground-ball rate
14 (top 12.1%) Vertical drop
19 (top 16.4%) Velocity
28 (top 24.1%) Whiffs per swing
T-12 lowest (bottom 13.8%) Line-drive rate

Interestingly, Perdomo has relied more and more on his sinker over his four-seamer as this year has dragged on. Observe:

Brooksbaseball-Chart-11.png

I’ll leave you with some video of premier-Perdomo sinkers. This one hits 96 and gets Matt Duffy to fan:

This one gets ‘Cutch looking:

Aaaand this one gets Josh Donaldson:

Perdomo’s second most frequent offering is a curve. It has a very low spin rate: the 81st highest out of the 112 pitchers who have thrown at least 200 curves this season. This is usually a bad sign, but some low spin rate curves can be effective. In fact, Drew Pomeranz, known for his awesome bender, ranks 100th out of 112 on that list. So, before we jump to any conclusions, lets take a look at the PITCHf/x leaderboards on Baseball Prospectus. There are 92 pitchers who have thrown at least 200 curves as a starter. Of the 92, Perdomo’s curve has the fifth highest velocity. Because of it’s hard velocity and low spin rate, it has middling movement. However, that same velocity is probably what makes it effective. It still manages an above average whiff rate: (24th out of 92 in that sample). It also has a solid 35.5% O-Swing percentage and a very low 56.5% Z-Swing percentage. If you’re unfamiliar with those terms, basically Perdomo’s curve has been good at getting hitters to chase out of the strike zone and take called strikes. This is especially good given that Perdomo rarely throws his curve in the zone (a mere 35.9% of the time). I’ve included some video of the pitch below:

Perdomo’s third most used pitch is a changeup. It’s nothing special. He throws it hard, only about 5 MPH slower than his sinker on average. The ideal velocity gap between a fastball and change is 10 MPH. It gets a slightly below average 11.2% whiffs. It’s gotten 58.3% grounders, which is nice, but it’s a smaller sample (he’s only thrown 295 this year).

His only other offering is a four-seamer. Sure it averages 94 MPH, but it’s gotten lit up. Hitters have slugged .646 and have a Contact rate of 91% against it. Their line-drive rate is at 39.1%.

Bottom Line: I was excited when I first looked at Perdomo’s statistical profile, but after this analysis, I’m not all that impressed. Right now, he looks more like a bullpen guy. His curve is a bit above average and his sinker is good. The change isn’t great though, and the four-seamer is awful. He needs to try and avoid hard contact by hitting his spots better and worrying less about giving up walks. Granted, he is still only 23 years old. I can see him becoming a back of the rotation starter if he can develop the change further.

This concludes my review of the Rule Five Draft. Hopefully, I’ve given you a good overview of the types of players selected. There have been some interesting ones, and some not so interesting ones. Either way, stay tuned for this year’s RFD, which will happen during the winter meetings (usually in December).

Data is from FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Brooks Baseball, and Baseball Savant. Videos are from MLB.com. All data from the PITCHf/x leaderboards is as of 9/23/16. All other data is as of morning 9/20. Picture credit–Brad Mills of USA Today Sports.

Thanks for reading!

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