2013 Stats: 11-16, 5.26 ERA, 183 IP, 107 Ks, 70 ERA+
Salary: $500,000 + $1.5 million if he makes 25-man roster
Each week, we will look at key players on the Texas Rangers 25-man roster, and this time we look at the team’s newest rotation member, Joe Saunders.
Year in Review: The 2013 season was the worst of Saunders’ career as he had a career-high ERA (5.26), WHIP (1.601) and a career-low ERA+ (70). As a lefty, Saunders has always been able to put away left-handed batters at a better clip than right-handed batters, but in 2013, the splits were more severe.
vs. RHB: .337/.394/.559
vs. LHB: .214/.251/.314
Career: Saunders’ career is mired in mediocrity which is enforced by his career 97 ERA+. His best season was the 2008 All-Star campaign when he finished 17-7with a 3.41 ERA, 198 IP, 4.6 rWAR and a 131 ERA+.
He primarily throws a two-seam fastball with a velocity at 89.5 mph while mixing in a change, four-seam fastball and a slider. Saunders doesn’t strike out many hitters (career 5.1 K/9) which means he relies heavily on a solid defense behind him. In his best seasons (2006, 2008 & 2011), his BABIP was .266, .266 and .271 respectively. For his career, Joe has a .297 BABIP and it climbed to .332 in 2013.
Anytime a pitcher doesn’t have the ability to miss bats with his repertoire, it’s essential that he has a solid defense.
2014 season: With the likes of Beltre, Andrus, Profar, Martin and Rios playing behind Saunders, Jon Daniels is hoping to get decent value out of the 32-year-old pitcher. At this point, he is simply a stopgap until either Derek Holland is healthy or Colby Lewis has shown he is capable of being a big-league pitcher again.
projects Saunders to pitch 161 innings with a 4.77 ERA and be worth .9 wins. These projections were made without the benefit of knowing what defense will play behind him, but they project him with a .293 BABIP.
While the fanbase justifiably isn’t excited about the Saunders signing, he is a veteran innings-eater that should keep the ballclub in the game. This is all you can ask from a No. 5 starter.
Eddie Middlebrook is a staff writer for Paranoid Fan, covering MLB and college football. Back in 2010, Eddie wrote for Fox Sports Southwest covering the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and the Big 12. In 2012, he began writing for Shutdown Inning where he eventually became Vice President of Media. You can email Eddie at or catch him on Twitter .