The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

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The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by RonCo » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:17 pm

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All right. Here’s the thing. I’ve been looking at Duane Coutts for several seasons now. He’s like my white whale, or maybe better stated Duane Coutts is to me like Jon Reed is to Brett #1…by this, however, I don't mean that I hate him so much as I mean that I don’t "get" him. To be honest, in watching Duane Coutts for the past few years, I’ve grown to love the guy ... just a little--For a non-Yellow Springs guy, anyway.

For the uninitiated, Duane Coutts is a left-handed pitcher on the Des Moines Kernels roster. He’s 26 now, and has been in the BBA for four seasons already. The fact that you probably don't know who he is says all you need to know, right? The guy is pretty much nondescript. Or, to be honest, if you look at his ratings, he really should be worse than nondescript. I mean...we all have minor leaguers we think are probably better pitchers.

Here are his base ratings:

Stuff: 5
Movement: 5 *
Control: 7
Stamina: 9
Hold Runners: 11

(*) That Movement bumped from a “4” just a month ago.

He has no spilts.

He’s got a “5 pitch repertoire” that is nothing to really write home about. His “6” fastball brushes 93 MPH, his change and fork ball are both “7,” the slider sits at “3” and the circle change an ugly “2.” He’s a big guy, standing 6’6”, 215 pounds. Not big in the smarts department, though. In other words, he’s kind of a not-so-interesting junkballer without a ton of junk in the trunk. Even on Des Moines’ staff, there is no way, by the eyeball test, that you’d point to Duane Coutts and say “There’s My Ace!”

Want stats?

Career K/9: 5.4 *
Career BB/9: 2.6
Career HR/9: 1.6

(*) That 5.4 is buoyed by a rookie season at age 22 when he struck out 8.1/9 in 110 innings. Otherwise, he’s in the high “4s.” While the control is workable, these numbers are clearly not particularly good.

SO WHY THE COUTTS LOVE?

Here’s the thing. Despite all of that, Duane Coutts has been giving Des Moines some pretty good production. Let’s look at some numbers. Over the last four seasons:

Winning Percentage
Des Moines: 278-370 (.429)
Duane Coutts: 30-28 (.517)

That’s right. Duane Coutts has a better than .500 winning percentage on a team that has been not very good. In fact, Coutts winning percentage is nearly 100 points higher than his team’s.

ERA:
Des Moines: 4.88
Duane Coutts: 4.43

Again, a half a run difference. Now, look, the Kernels have not been the bastion of pitching excellence over this span, but still. This is kind of fun. Coutts’ FIP during these years has been pretty poor—4.99/5.47/5.13/5.23, and yet, the ERA is where it is.

In fact, here’s another set of numbers over the past four seasons:

ERA
Duane Coutts: 4.43
Frick League: 4.57

That’s right…for the past four seasons, Duane Coutts has been a better than league average pitcher. He is also positive WAR, scoring 4.1 WAR to date, and averaging about 1.5 in any full season. Not brilliant, but productive, eh?

Want an interesting comparison? Since 2036:

ERA
Duane Coutts: 4.43
Jon Reed: 4.62

Now, yes, Reed plays in a hitter’s park, but…

WHAT ABOUT THE BALLPARK?

Other than a very gentle depression of RHB batting average (.98), Patrick D. Tillman Memorial Park is a hitter’s park. So, the numbers should really be pretty ugly for Coutts—or at least I think it’s fair to say his numbers aren’t being helped by the field he plays in.

Compared to San Fernando’s park, Des Moines is a shade less offensive, but a full two-tenths of a run? Hmmm…I’m not seeing it.

SO WHAT GIVES?

To be honest, I dunno. I’m writing this because, at the time of its writing, Duane Coutts is sitting at 2-0, with a 3.21 ERA, and while that level is pretty flukey, if you had just his pure record to go on (and not a glimpse into his ratings), you wouldn’t say they were that horribly surprising.

Add in that his overall rating has just been bumped to a “50,” and it makes me wonder: what’s going on? Are we seeing a late-ish bumper, or just a weird outlier of OOTP nature, or … what? The bottom line is that Duane Coutts has been a pretty good little pitcher, and I have no good reason for it except “baseball.”

Of course, that’s a good enough reason for me.

I’m just happy that, by semi-random happenstance, I was actually watching him along the way because guys like Coutts are exactly the kinds of stories I love this game for. [grin]

Of course, now I’ve probably jinxed him.

Sorry about that Ed…

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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by bschr682 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:24 pm

Very interesting

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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by HoosierVic » Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:22 pm

We ran into Duane Coutts on April 6 and saw a little of his magic firsthand. Although that happened to be one of the (few) games Chicago has won so far, it wasn't because we got to Coutts. Far from it - he went 6.1 innings, allowed 3 hits and 1 run. Struck out 4, walked 3. A PQS of 3 - a perfectly solid outing. We were relieved to get him the heck out outta the game to take our chances with the bullpen ...

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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by shoeless.db » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:14 am

I like the idea of some mediocre players bumping as their careers develop, either in the BBA or minors. We see this happen quite often with relievers in the MLB. Some guy who just keeps plugging away for years in the minors or independent leagues happens to tweak his delivery or arm angle or learns a new pitch and -- Presto -- he's become a viable option for a major league club (i.e. Ryne Harper of the Twins)
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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by Edward Murphy » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:46 am

and he only makes league minimum.
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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by jleddy » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:30 am

The Lance Lynn of the Brewster.
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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by recte44 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:56 pm

What's his BABIP?
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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by RonCo » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:25 pm

His career BABIP is .258, considerably lower than the .294 or so that the league has averaged during this time. Des Moines pitches have averaged .288 during that time, though--a little better than league average. So there's something.
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Re: The Mysterious and Weird Case of Duane Coutts

Post by RonCo » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:38 pm

Despite that 11 Hold, Coutts' control of the running game isn't glaringly above average, either. His SB/1B rate is about average, and his SB% against is 73% vs 76%. But that's over 57 attempts, so it's hard to say that 2 more guys thrown out on the base paths is a big deal.
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