Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Player Profile: Adam Wainwright

We've done quite a bit of Twins related stuff lately so I thought I'd branch out a little and take a look at a player who is, once again, quietly putting together a fantastic season so far.

Adam Wainwright was drafted by the Braves in the 1st round (29th pick) of the 2000 draft out of high school and was traded to the Cardinals for Eli Marrero and J.D. Drew in 2003. Wainwright wasn't all that spectacular as a minor-leaguer compiling a 49-41 record in 138 minor league starts with a 3.78 ERA and 1.257 WHIP. Those aren't terrible numbers, but I would have expected to see something better than that considering how well he has performed in the Majors. Wainwright broke into the majors with the Cardinals in 2006 and spent a year as a reliever before becoming a full time starter in 2007.

In 2007, Wainwright started 32 games for the Cards going 14-12, pitching over 200 innings, but had an underwhelming 1.396 WHIP and paltry 6.1 K/9 rate. In 2008, he was going along quite well until a thumb injury caused him to miss 2 1/2 months of the season. Though his K/9 rate that year was still only around 6.2, he cut down on the number of walks he was giving up and reduced his WHIP to 1.182 in 132+ innings.

This past year Wainwright put it all together, posting a 19-8 record and finishing 3rd in the Cy Young voting. In 233 innings he had a 2.63ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and 212Ks. This year he is off to an equally good start and at 28 years old, looks like he could be an elite starter for the next several years if he can remain healthy. What makes him so effective you ask?

Taking a look at PitchFX on Wainwright's start last night in which he struck out 12 while allowing 1ER on 4H and 1BB, we see that despite his inability to induce groundballs at his normal rate, he was able to throw most of his pitches for strikes and when a guy with a 5-pitch arsenal is doing that, he going to miss a lot of bats, as evidenced by the 12 strikeouts.

When talking about Wainwright, I would be remiss if I didn't mention his consistency as a pitcher and so far this year, he's started 10 games and had 9 quality starts. Last year, 25 of his 34 starts qualified as quality starts, 2nd behind only Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (26). He almost always keep the Cardinals in the games he starts and for a manager, that has to be reassuring.

Keep your eye out for Wainwright, he certainly has had an interesting major league career so far and this season looks to be a continuation of the dominance and potential he displayed last year.

**All stats from unless linked elsewhere.

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