After a strong finish to the 2019 season, young SF Giants young Logan Webb followed that up with a disappointing Sophomore season but was there any hope for optimism as he heads into 2021?
On the surface, SF Giants hurler Logan Webb struggled to the tune of a 5.47 ERA with a 9.8 percent walk rate while being worth -0.4 WAR across 54.1 frames in 2020. However, it was not all bad. Perhaps, the most promising detail is that Webb got a chance to get more innings under his belt.
Injuries, a PED suspension, and now the pandemic shortened season have meant that the 24-year old has never eclipsed 105 innings pitched in a year since he was the Giants fourth-round selection in the 2014 MLB Draft. It does mean the right-handed hurler has relatively low mileage on his arm, but also might lead the team to limit his innings going forward.
By the time he was promoted to the Giants in August of 2019, Webb had just 302.1 innings on his ledger across six minor league seasons. Given this, there was plenty of development left to be realized for the young hurler, even if it required growing pains.
For the most part, the 2020 season was a struggle for Webb, but that is part of the process for a team still looking to build the pieces of a championship contender. While many surface-level numbers such as ERA and walk rate are not favorable, a dip beneath the hood shows some cause for hope. For starters, the right-handed hurler registered a 4.17 FIP in 2020 suggesting that his peripheral numbers were stronger than his 5.47 ERA might indicate. In fact, one projection system is very high on prospects for next season.
He was a difficult pitcher to barrel up. Opposing hitters posted a 5.8-degree launch angle to go along with a 5.3 percent barrel rate, so they struggled to lift the ball into the air against the rightly. Not surprisingly, since hitters struggled to lift the ball, Webb did well to keep the ball in the ballpark as he posted a 0.7 HR/9. The low home run rate contributed to a more favorable FIP in comparison to ERA.
On top of this, the 24-year-old induced a ground ball in 51.8 percent of his batted ball events to generate a stellar 2.23 GB/FB rate. Despite the high ground ball rate, a lot of balls hit off of Webb must have had eyes as he had to battle through an unusually high .345 BABIP. That high BABIP is due to regress, especially if he maintains a similarly strong ground ball rate next year.
On a final and less quantitative note, Webb had a solid mound presence. He reminded many of Matt Cain or Ryan Vogelsong, and his maturity seemed to be beyond his years. Oftentimes, the former fourth-round pick pitched himself into trouble, but he looked very calm pitching through traffic.
You would hope that Logan Webb pitches into less traffic next season, but the calmness is not a quality you can teach. Webb struggled quite a bit in 2020, but there were plenty of underlying reasons to have hope as he heads into the next season. If the SF Giants are going to be competitive, then they will need him to take the next step in his development.