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Hyun-Jin Ryu Looks to Improve Upon Outstanding Rookie Season

February 24th, 2014 at 5:00 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds
'Hyun-Jin Ryu' photo (c) 2013, Keith Allison - license:
Hyun-Jin Ryu had a rough day in yesterday's intrasquad scrimmage. In two innings, Ryu took the loss while giving up home runs to Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez. He was roughed up so bad by his teammates that Juan Uribe even apologized to him after drilling a double. While Ryu's 2014 campaign is off to an inauspicious beginning, the southpaw has plenty of room for improvement after a solid 2013 season.
Last offseason, not much was known about Ryu. The Los Angeles Dodgers signed the big lefty to a 6-year deal worth $36 million, while also paying the Hanwha Eagles $25.7 million just for the right to negotiate with Ryu. The seven-time Korean Baseball Organization All-Star proved to be an excellent addition to the Dodger rotation, going 14-8 while posting a 3.00 ERA over 192 innings. Advanced metrics also liked him, as he posted a 3.24 FIP and, according to Fangraphs, was worth 3.1 WAR.
Ryu is heading into his age-27 season, generally considered to be a player’s prime. So what is a reasonable expectation of Ryu as the Dodgers move closer to Opening Day?
Two well-regarded projection systems believe that Ryu is due for a regression. Steamer sees Ryu’s FIP dropping a shade to 3.37, with his ERA rising to 3.55. ZiPS predicts an even greater regression, with his FIP ballooning to 3.73 and his ERA shooting up to 3.65.
This is surprising for a player coming off of a season in which he was remarkably consistent. Not that it would impact the FIP projections, but this may have something to do with questions relating to the Dodger infield, as many are unsure what the defense at second base will look like. Alexander Guerrero is the frontrunner for the position, but he is known more for his bat than for his glove. Even with an uncertain infield situation, Ryu seems due for continued improvement.
Ryu entered camp with the Dodgers this year with a renewed focus on physical preparation. He appears slimmer than last year, and has indicated that his offseason routine was geared toward helping him endure the long big league season. It seems more likely that Ryu will experience progress in 2014, especially given the fact that he is a part of a rotation that is not only talented, but also highly values advance game planning and strategy.
Ryu will also benefit from having had a full season to adapt to the nature of stateside baseball, and has now had an opportunity to learn the tendencies of the batters he will face again this year. Ryu seems to be the perfect fit for the number three spot in the rotation, and Dodger fans should expect another season of solid and consistent production.
Tags: Alexander Guerrero, Baseball, Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Juan Uribe, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

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