J.A. Happ and Hyun Jin Ryu
These two guys share similarities on many levels. On one hand, they’re both crafty, veteran lefties in the middle of the rotation. They also stay around the strike zone, as well as using a variety of pitches. Moving past the eye test, there remains similarities on a statistical level as well.
Baseball Savant, one of my favourite websites of all time, will show that both Happ and Ryu are fairly underwhelming on their peripherals. By this, I mean that they’re not exactly good at limiting hard contact, spinning the ball, throwing that hard, or other aspects of that nature. The single percentile where they excel is BB%. Back in 2016, Happ ranked in the 67th percentile in that area, while Ryu sat in the high 91st percentile. Both pitchers threw strikes, limiting baserunners via base on balls, which is a valuable trait from a middle of the rotation arm.
In addition to the in depth statistics, the basic ‘per nine’ stats are similar between the two. Ryu’s career lines align with Happ’s 2016. Both have a K/9 in the 7-8 range, a HR/9 around 1, and a lowly BB/9 of around 2-3 between the 2.
As a last comparison, both were/are slinging it into their mid 30s. If you’re looking at WAR, J.A. Happ had the best season of his career as a 33 year old in 2016. His 4.5 WAR total was good enough for sixth in Cy Young voting that season. Ryu comes into 2022 as a 35 year old, celebrating his birthday in the middle of Spring Training. The South Korea native posted a 4.8 WAR as recently as 2019 as a Dodger. Ryu burst onto the scene in the shortened 2020 season and pitched just as well, if not better, as a 33 year old. The lefty did take a step back last year, but having shown a ton of success in the past, there’s no reason why Ryu can’t get back to his old form into his veteran years.