Crown Crazed’s own Tom Backus wrote 10 predictions for the 2012 Kansas City Royals, with No. 7 being that Luke Hochevar will finally become a consistent pitcher. I’m with Backus and think fans will finally see why the Royals selected Hochevar with the No. 1 draft pick in 2006.
If you look at Hochevar’s 2011 stats, nothing will blow you away. He finished 11-11, notched a 4.68 ERA and had 128 strike outs with 62 walks in a career-most 198.0 innings. If you break these numbers down, though, Hochevar was much better in the second half of the season.
ERA — 1st: 5.46 2nd: 3.52
K’s per 9 — 1st: 4.6 2nd: 7.7
K/BB ratio — 1st: 1.58 2nd: 2.83
Those numbers are drastic improvements for Hochevar. The key to these improvements was eliminating that one horrible inning that seemed to haunt Hochevar in the first half of the season. Whenever he would be rolling along, Hochevar would break down for one inning, allowing the other team to hang a large, crooked number on the scoreboard. Hochevar corrected this in the second half, limiting damage and keeping the Royals in the game.
Win-loss record isn’t a great guide to a pitcher’s effectiveness, but because of the improvement in the factors he controls, Hochevar improved his win-loss record from 5-8 in the first half to 6-3 in the second half.
Even after a good second half in 2011, Hochevar will not be the Opening Day starter for KC in 2012. I believe manager Ned Yost chose Bruce Chen over Hochevar for two reasons. The first is because Yost is rewarding Chen for the consistency he has shown in KC in the past two seasons.
The second is to keep the pressure off of Hochevar. Without the stress of being “The Guy,” Yost is allowing Hochevar to relax and focus on the good things he did in the second half last season. I’m excited to see what Luke Hochevar will do in the 2012 season.