Max Fried led the Atlanta Braves on the mound in game 6 of the World Series, establishing himself as a top of the rotation arm. What is in store for him in 2022?
His performance was worth 0.240 wPA and a 12.97% cWPA. The performance is overshadowed by the homerun from World Series MVP Jorge Soler, but Fried put together an iconic performance to help the Braves win their first championship in twenty-six years.
While the season ended on the ultimate high note for Fried and the Braves, there were plenty of low points throughout 2021. Especially, for Fried.
Through his first three starts, Fried only pitched 11 innings, with a 11.45 ERA, 6.35 FIP, & 4.25 xFIP. Coming off a stellar 2020 season, this was a disastrous beginning for Fried, who would head to the injured list in mid-April.
Never doubt Max Fried. After returning on May 5th, Fried would pitch in 25 games, throwing 154.2 innings with a 2.44 ERA, 3.09 FIP, & 3.40 xFIP.
Down the stretch, Fried showed why he was the team’s Ace. After the All-Star break, he pitched in 14 games and put up a 1.74 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and 3.08 xFIP in 93 innings. Including two complete game shutouts against the Orioles and Padres.
Fried carried the rotation into the playoffs in a tight divisional race.
He would carry that over into the postseason, allowing only two runs in his first two starts. However, he hit a rough patch in game 5 of the NLCS, allowing five runs to the Dodgers over 4.2 innings. Then in game 2 of the World Series, the Houston Astros “BABIP’d” Fried to a tune of six runs over five innings. Fried was slumping at the wrong time.
Never doubt Max Fried.
Despite the two-game skid, Fried rebounded in game 6, shutting down statistically the best offense in baseball, the Houston Astros in a World Series clinching performance. A defining moment in Fried’s career, in a defining season for the Braves Ace.
Overall, Fried appeared in 27 games, pitching 165.2 innings, with a 3.04 ERA, 3.50 xERA, 3.31 FIP, 3.45 xFIP, 3.50 SIERA, 145 ERA+, 158 K, 5.4 bWAR, & 3.8 fWAR.
Check out how some of these stats ranked across the league:
- 3.04 ERA: 9th NL & 10th MLB
- 145 ERA+: 6th NL & 7th MLB
- 3.31 FIP: 9th NL
- 5.4 bWAR: T10th MLB
Add in the Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, and 2021 All-MLB Team 2 selection, meaning it was a banner year for the lefty.
Max Fried 2022 Projections
Fried has established himself as a top of the rotation pitcher. One that the Braves trust every 5th day.
Is there another step to his game?
For his career, Fried has a 3.34 ERA, 3.55 FIP, and 3.51 xFIP including a 24.1% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate. An excellent pitcher, one that has only gotten better with experience.
Fried has always been a ground ball pitcher (53.5% ground ball rate) who excels at limiting hard contact (86.5 average exit velocity- top 10% in league in 2021).
An uptick in strikeouts would arguably take Fried’s game to the next level. He has figured out how to pitch to weak contact and trust his defense behind him.
What are the current models projecting for Fried? Take a look:
- ZiPS: 27 games, 158.2 innings, 3.24 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 8.70 K/9, 2.16 BB/9, 3.6 fWAR
- ZiPS DC: 31 games, 180 innings, 3.24 ERA, 3.32 FIP, 8.70 K/9, 2.16 BB/9, 4.1 fWAR
- Steamer: 31 games, 185 innings, 3.87 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 3.87 xFIP, 8.49 K/9, 2.72 BB/9, 2.8 fWAR
- THE BAT: 30 games, 178 innings, 4.03 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 8.31 K/9, 2.91 BB/9, 3.2 fWAR
- ATC: 30 games, 178 innings, 3.44 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 8.79 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 3.5 fWAR
- FGDC: 31 games, 183 innings, 3.56 ERA, 3.62 FIP, 8.59 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 3.4 fWAR
Some variances between the projections.
In his career, the most innings Fried has ever thrown in the regular season is 165.2 innings, something he has done twice (2019 & 2021). Adding in the 27.2 postseason innings, Fried threw 193.1 innings, by far the most he has thrown in his professional career.
Pitching into November means less time for the arm to rest. An unseen benefit if the season is delayed due to the lockout could be the Braves arms get additional rest before the season begins.
Fried will begin the 2022 season as the Ace of the staff and play an integral role in their title defense. He is always slightly underrated by the national media, but he has established himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball.
He will never be a favorite for a CY Young award coming into a season but has the talent to put himself into conversations in any given season. Could he be a dark horse for the Cy Young in 2022?
Personally, I think Fried will have another great season. I do not see him eclipsing 200 innings, and 180-185 innings might be the peak for his career. That is not an issue. It may hurt him in Award voting, but it should keep his arm fresher later in the season.
Trent’s Projection: 30 games, 178 innings, 3.21 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 175 K
The main prediction- he will be the Ace once again, potentially providing another 5+ WAR season for the Atlanta Braves.
He may never put up the flashiest numbers, but he is someone I trust will get the job done more often than not.
Never doubt Max Fried.