Exit Interview 2019: Dakota Hudson

Every year since 2012, we’ve spent some time after the season looking back at those that wore the Birds on the Bat.  Whether it’s a bit player that got into just a couple of games or someone that played almost every day, we’ll look at their stats, their positives, their negatives, and grade them based on what we would have expected from them.  The stat line is from their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers may include time with other teams, if applicable.  Think of this as like the players packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  Once again, our great header work comes to us from cardinalsgifs, who continues to be a master.

If we’re talking about 2019, we’ve got to highlight the brand that made the most impact this season: Primos and their partnership with Jose Martinez.  Throughout the span of these interviews (today through Dec. 5) you can get 10% off your order of that sweet, sweet Cafecito coffee (well, I guess you probably have to doctor it to make it sweet) or anything else at their site.  My wife is a coffee snob and we’ve bought multiple bags of the medium roast.  It’s a great stocking stuff or Christmas gift as well, especially when you expand your order to pick up the Jose Martinez coffee mug.  So use code C70SAVE10 at checkout and show your support of their ties to the Cardinal fanbase!

Player: Dakota Hudson

Season stats: 12-6, 1 SV, 3.35 ERA, 33 G, 174.2 IP, 160 H, 22 HR, 86 BB, 136 K, 4.93 FIP, 1.408 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 2.2 bWAR

Statcast: 6.8% barrel %, 88.7 exit velocity, 38.8% hard hit %, .334 xwOBA

Hero/Goat: Hero 5, Goat 5

Overall grade: B

Positives: Went 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the last four weeks of the season….limited righties to a .670 OPS….batters hit .224 against him in Busch Stadium and he had a 2.75 ERA there….had a 3.17 ERA in the second half and gave up a .698 OPS during that span….batters hit .208 in the second half as well….had an ERA under 3 in four of the six months of the season….had a 2.41 ERA if he had three to five runs of support….leadoff hitters had a .609 OPS against him….the bottom third of the lineup hit .187….batters hit .239 if they took the first pitch….limited hitters to .481 OPS when was ahead in the count….the first batter he faced hit .167….batters hit .234 with runners in scoring position….they hit .200 in late and close situation….batters had a .509 OPS in the sixth inning….had a 2.83 ERA on four days’ rest….limited the Cubs to a .185 average….allowed one run in 4.2 innings against the Braves in the NLDS.

Negatives: Struggled to start the season, to the point there was a clamor for him to go down to Memphis….got destroyed in his NLCS game, allowing seven runs in a third of an inning….lefties had an .818 OPS….had a 4.13 ERA on the road….had a 5.63 ERA in April and batters slashed .327/.400/.594 then….had a 5.47 ERA in July as well….had a 4.99 ERA in his losses….batters had a .930 OPS when he got two or less runs of support….third-place hitters had a .365/.489/.811 line against him….batters hit .347 on the first pitch….allowed a .285 BAA the second time through the order….in 11 plate appearances after 100 pitches, hitters went 2-for-7 with a homer, four walks, and a strikeout….had a 4.04 ERA on five days’ rest….had a 5.52 ERA against the Brewers….did allow a home run to an opposing pitcher.

Overview: After getting a brief taste of the bigs in 2018, Hudson was able to be a fixture in the rotation throughout 2019.  There’s two ways to look at Hudson’s season.  On the one hand, he was successful in getting wins and limiting runs allowed, which is a key thing for, you know, winning games.  He kept the ball on the ground, got the best out of that improved infield defense, and was a reliable starter after April.

On the flip side, there’s a case that he was fortunate and, given that he doesn’t really have that strikeout weapon to get out of jams, is going to wind up having troubles in the future.  His WHIP mean he was putting on basically 1.5 runners an inning, which is asking for trouble.  As noted, his FIP was 4.93, which is somewhat tied to his strikeout rate.  He gave just over a home run per nine innings, so when the ball was in the air it went out quite often.  He led the league in walks.  Sabermetrically, there seems to be danger there.

Outlook: How you look at Hudson’s year probably influences what you think his 2020 will be like.  It feels like there’s a real danger of some regression coming, which can be bad since Hudson is going to be a big part of the rotation next season.  However, he has been successful throughout his minor league career with a similar profile, so this may be just who he is.  As long as his defense is good behind him, he may be fine.  He’s also still young and has some growing and refining to do, so he may be able to correct a few of these issues going forward.  There still will probably be some pain next year but that doesn’t mean that Hudson can’t be a strong contributor.

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