H/W: 6-4, 250 lbs
Acquired: via trade with Arizona, with Dansby Swanson & Ender Inciarte, for Shelby Miller & Gabe Speier
Current Salary: TBA
Team Control: 6 seasons MLB (through 2022)
The Outfield Fly Ruling
What a year. Blair debuted in April and looked like a promising rookie after 3 starts. After a May start derailed his scoreboard ERA, giving up 9 runs in 1 1/3 innings in Pittsburgh, Blair couldn’t quite get back on track. The team demoted him to Gwinnett, but he returned for three starts in September/October, and looked good in two of them. Just as his results changed throughout the year, so too did his process. Over his first few starts, he used all 4 of his pitches (4-seamer, sinker, curve, change) in a rather democratic manner – each was given a significant voice. Like his much-maligned Twitter politics, Blair’s pitch selection became more autocratic as the calendar approached autumn. He used the sinker, once his #2 pitch, less and less throughout the year. The curve got #2 billing for a minute or two, but then its usage cratered like the sinker. The changeup went in the same direction, though not as drastically. Despite not throwing one until June, Blair’s slider became a star pitch as the year wore on. He worked on it in Gwinnett, and by the time he returned to Atlanta, it was his clear #2. It generated a lot of whiffs, and it did a nice job of keeping the ball on the ground. In Blair’s case, that was very important, because if it wasn’t on the ground, there was a very good possibility it was winding up a souvenir for fans in the Outfield Pavilion. In his final start of the year, a 6 inning, 5 baserunner, 1 run, 10 K outing against the Tigers in October, he threw the slider nearly as much as his four-seamer.
It’s necessary to point all this out because, while the results of 2016 were emphatically disappointing, that pitcher re-invented himself constantly to the point where the pitcher responsible for those disappointing results may not even exist anymore. Inconsistency is going to be a way of life in the short term while Blair figures out exactly what arsenal he wants to deploy, but if the rise of the slider is any sign, he’s willing to learn and isn’t stubborn; he’s willing to bail on that which fails him. If only we could say the same for his social media presence.
The OFR Scouting Report
- Four-seam Fastball – 92 mph
- Changeup – 86 mph
- 12-6 Curveball – 79 mph / extreme groundball pitch)
- Sinker – 92 mph / extreme groundball pitch
- Slider – 81 mph / very hard to hit
Stamina – 40 ↑↑↑↑↑↑
I suppose stamina rankings aren’t exclusively stamina-related. Blair may have 60-grade stamina, but he may not work deep into games for other effectiveness-related reasons. If he can pitch more efficiently, he could be a major innings-eater down the road.
Walk Avoidance – 45 ↑↑
Blair isn’t going to be Greg Maddux, but he should be near league average at limiting walks.
Strikeout Ability – 40 ↑↑↑↑↑↑
He certainly didn’t show it last year, but Blair still projects to be a decent K pitcher down the road. The arrows suggest the potential for award-winning strikeout totals, and there’s a chance for that. To properly illustrate what kind of chance, Blair has an equal chance of becoming a faithful reader of the Huffington Post.
Groundball Induction – 50
Blair should kill worms at a league-average rate. His sinker and curve both are great pitches with which to induce ground balls, but he cut his usage of both drastically over the course of the 2016 season.
20-80 scale, where 20 will prevent you from reaching the bigs, 30 is terrible, 40 is below average, 50 is MLB average, 60 is plus, 70 is plus-plus, and 80 is HOF-level. The OFR Scouting Report is based mostly on statistical forecasting models such as ZiPs, PECOTA, etc. Arrows indicate projected room for growth or decline, with each representing a 5 point movement on the 20-80 scale.
Walk Off Walk