MLB’s 25 Most Improved Players Prospects for 2016 Momentum

#21. Marco Estrada, Toronto Blue Jays

2015 WAR: 3.6
2014 WAR: 0.6
WAR Improvement: 3.0

Fresh off a two-year extension worth $26 million, Marco Estrada must prove his 4.36 ERA in 2014 was the exception, not his stellar 3.13 ERA one year later. But that will be tough to do since nearly every metric in the book points toward his 2015 season being awfully hard to replicate.

Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP) looks at only the three true outcomes a pitcher can control — walks, strikeouts, and home runs — to take defense out of the equation. It’s a more accurate portrayal of a pitcher’s true skill preventing runs, and Estrada’s plummeting strikeout rate (6.51 K/9) wasn’t enough to make up for his unsustainably low HR/FB of 8.7.

As a result, his 4.40 FIP looks astronomical when compared to his ERA. Making matters worse, his Expected Fielder Independent Pitching (xFIP), which looks at fly balls induced instead of home runs allowed and normalizes to the expected HR/FB of 10.5, stood at 4.93.

There’s an outside chance Estrada has become historically excellent at inducing soft contact that leads to plentiful pop outs and results in ridiculously low BABIPs. His career .261 BABIP is already quite low, but his .216 BABIP in 2015 is on another level. The safe bet here is that regression is coming.