By All Means - A John Means Deep Dive
By All Means
The phrase, by all means, actually comes from Baltimore believe it or not. It means yes or certainly, and the way it came about was because of an old governor of Baltimore. His name was Frederick Means and everyone called him the “yes man.” If you asked him for anything he would do everything he could to give it to you! Legend has it someone once asked him to run into a burning building to save a kitten and unfortunately, he didn’t make it out alive. This is where the phrase “by all means,” comes from. I hope you didn’t believe that because I totally just made that entire thing up.
On the surface John Means had a pretty solid year posting a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts. He produced a solid 1.14 WHIP and an average K-BB% of 13.0%. Unfortunately, the underlying numbers aren’t great and its what makes John Means interesting. His 3.60 ERA came with a 4.41 FIP and 5.02 SIERA. On top of that Means finished with an unsustainable .256 BABIP to pair with his .232 batting average against (BAA). The underlying numbers aren’t great but I did notice something when you look at each month he pitched.
April - 2.81 ERA
May - 2.79 ERA
June - 1.71 ERA
July - 5.24 ERA
August - 5.13 ERA
Sept. - 3.82 ERA
I saw this and thought, okay maybe just two bad months is what did him in and he really has some talent. In July and August he really only had two bad games that effected his ERA and it was because he lost command of his slider. Again this made me think, maybe there is something here. Until I saw this:
April - 4.58 FIP - .301 wOBA - .318 xwOBA
May - 4.01 FIP - .278 wOBA - .323 xwOBA
June - 3.17 FIP - .261 wOBA - .299 xwOBA
July - 6.12 FIP - .335 wOBA - .314 xwOBA
August - 4.49 FIP - .300 wOBA - .314 xwOBA
Sept. - 3.94 FIP - .293 wOBA - .298 xwOBA
This right here screams an average pitcher to me. He really only had two good months which a lot of pitchers do throughout the season. I dove into those good months he had and I saw no significant pitch mix or velocity change that linked the two together. So far not so good, what about the pitches?
His four-seam fastball is a viable pitch as it posted a .273 BAA with a .263 xBAA and .320 BABIP. He uses it well (2.9 pVAL) to set up his changeup but when hitters get a hold of it they do hit it hard (8.6 Barrel%).
Means changeup was his best pitch in 2019 as it provided a 38.9 O-Swing%, 49.0 Zone%, and 13.8 SwStr%. His fastball/changeup combo did work nicely most of the season but he did struggle with command at times. The changeup has signs of slight regression but should be a good pitch once again. It moves nicely especially against right-handed hitters, it starts on the edge of the left side of the plate and breaks out fo the zone causing hitters to miss.
His slider also performed well in 2019 (3.2 pVAL), but regression seems to be coming as it had a .170 BAA with a .223 xBA and a .240 wOBAcon with a .306 xwOBAcon. The SwStr% of 13.0 and O-Swing% of 31.6 are just about average. Command seemed to be an issue and hopefully something he can fix.
This pitch was so bad in 2019! It let up a .409 BAA, .455 ISO, and 242 wRC+. That also came with a poor 7.0 SwStr% and 10.5 Barrel%. Means needs to ditch this pitch as he clearly doesn’t know how to execute it (-4.7 pVAL).
On the bright side, Means likes to rely on his four-seam fastball and changeup when it comes to right-handed hitters. The reason being is right-handers kill his slider as they hit it for a .286 BAA and a .238 ISO. But when he faces left-handed hitters he ups his slider usage and they only have a batting average of .132 against it as well as a .103 ISO. While it is encouraging that he throws his pitch mix correctly, his four-seam, changeup, and slider are all pretty average. Sure he is young and can grow but that stadium also works against him. The only thing I can say is he does a good job of throwing the fastball high and changeup low and maybe it can be enough to get by.
By All Means, Finish This Article
I tried really hard for you Baltimore Orioles fans to find some kind of bright spot in his profile. Sure he pitched well in 2019 but with bad underlying numbers and just average pitches, I’m not sure I see the potential for growth. My prediction: 170 innings pitched, 7 K/9, and a 4.20 ERA. But hey, if you want to draft him by all means (see what I did there?). Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out with any questions!