Peavy persevered, thrived in 2012

Jake Peavy showed that he was back to something reasonably close to his old self last season.

The Chicago White Sox felt comfortable enough with his 2012 performance to give Peavy $29 million over two years (plus a buyout for not exercising the option on his contract) and take him out of the free-agent market.

Jake Peavy

PeavyIf this was a free-agent contract, it would be the largest in terms of average annual value in White Sox history (exceeding Adam Dunn’s $14 million annual salary).

Peavy’s ERA dropped from 4.92 in 2011 to 3.37 in 2012, the fourth-biggest drop among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in each season.

Here’s a closer look at his performance.

Recapping 2011: Back on the right track

Peavy may have finished with a sub-.500 record in 2012, but his numbers were better than his record showed.

Peavy had the third-lowest ERA (3.37) among pitchers who had a losing record this season. He ranked third overall in the American League in innings pitched (219) and WHIP.

The only AL pitchers with more starts of at least six innings and three earned runs or fewer than Peavy (who had 23) were David Price and Justin Verlander (25 each)

Jake Peavy Last 4 Seasons

He ranked also sixth in the American League in Wins Above Replacement (5.0).

Peavy’s wasn’t totally without flaws.

He had a 2.25 ERA in five starts against the Twins, but a 5.38 ERA in 12 starts against the Indians, Tigers and Royals.

Peavy was able to survive despite a ground-ball rate that ranked fifth-lowest in the majors.

He allowed 27 home runs and his home runs per 9 rate (1.1) was the second-highest of his career.

But Peavy offset that with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 4-to-1.

Comfortable at U.S. Cellular Field

Peavy went 6-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 15 home starts at U.S. Cellular Field last season, a park usually known for being tough on pitchers.

That was the ninth-best single-season home ERA for a White Sox pitcher since that ballpark opened in 1991.

How Peavy wins

Peavy was among the toughest starting pitchers in baseball against right-handed hitters last season, limiting them to a .210 opponents’ batting average (sixth-best in the majors) and .614 opponents’ OPS (10th-best).

Right-handed hitters put only 36 percent of their swings against Peavy into play, the fifth-lowest rate in the majors.

Though Peavy’s fastball velocity is only 91 miles-per-hour on average, his hard stuff is still very effective. Opponents hit .231 in at-bats that ended against his fastball/sinker combo, the third-lowest opponents’ batting average in the majors.

Looking ahead …

Peavy will be trying to string together back-to-back healthy seasons for the first time in a while. He hasn’t qualified for the ERA title in consecutive years since 2007/2008.

The ERA-estimation stats had Peavy as being considerably better than his numbers in 2011. They have Peavy declining slightly in 2013.

Peavy’s xFIP, a forward-looking ERA estimator whose calculation is based on strikeouts, walks, and fly balls allowed, pegged Peavy for a 4.00 in 2012.

This ERA estimator has had success in predicting whether Peavy’s ERA would rise or fall. In the six previous instances in which there was a differential of at least 0.6 between his ERA and xFIP, his ERA broke towards the direction of his xFIP in the following season five times.