Exit Interview 2020: Dakota Hudson

After every season (dating back to 2012), we’ve spent time looking at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals that season.  They might have gotten a couple of innings, they might have played every day, but if they played, they get a post.  Usually, I like to term this like the players are packing up their locker and then seeing Mike Shildt before they head off for the winter.  This year, of course, was anything but typical.  So we’ll look at every player, we’ll take in some of their stats, but we won’t be giving out grades this season or delving too much into the positive/negative.  There are just too many variables in the Year of COVID for that to be reasonable.  As he has for the past few years, cardinalsgifs has lent his enormous talents to our header image and we thank him for it!

Player: Dakota Hudson

Season stats: 3-2, 2.77 ERA, 8 G, 38 IP, 24 H, 5 HR, 15 BB, 31 K, 4.50 FIP, 1.000 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 0.6 bWAR

Postseason stats: DNP

Statcast: 4.8% barrel %, 89.1 exit velocity, 40.4% hard hit %, .253 xwOBA

Best Statcast category: Barrel Percentage (78th percentile)

Worst Statcast category: Whiff Percentage (17th percentile)

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 1


Overview: For the entirety of Dakota Hudson’s (admittedly short) career, people–and I include myself in this mix–have been waiting for the house of cards to collapse.  He doesn’t fool many people, he doesn’t get them to strike out, and the hard hit percentage has crept up all three years.  His FIP is constantly well above his ERA.  In a world that seems to be focused on power, Hudson’s crafty approach would seem to be a dangerous weapon to take into battle.

The thing is, though, it works.  The defense behind him helps, of course, but Hudson has been able to be successful with his limited strikeout stuff.  Hudson allowed four runs in his first 2020 outing, but never gave up more than three after that.  He was able to help solidify the rotation, going six or more innings three times.  During the season, you felt like the Cardinals had a chance with Hudson on the mound.  Not that it was going to be easy or it was a guaranteed win, but there were times where he was the most reliable starter that the club had.  It helped that the offense often showed up with Hudson on the mound.  Four of his eight starts he got two or fewer runs in support, but the other four he got six or more.

Interestingly, he was much harder on left-handed batters and it wasn’t a small sample issue as he faced them more than righthanders this past season.  With some significant lefties in the division, having someone that can neutralize them on the regular is a very valuable asset.

Outlook: Hudson left his last outing, a mid-September start against the Pirates, after just two innings and not long after that went under the knife for Tommy John surgery.  Given the time frame usually associated with that, the next time we can reasonably expect to see Hudson in a Cardinal uniform is the beginning of the 2022 season.  We’ll have to see if the surgery changes anything about his approach or if the results start to fall in line with expectations.  Hopefully he can keep defying the odds for many years to come.

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