CHRIS STRATTON, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: August 22, 1990
Drafted: 1st Round, 20th overall pick, 2012 (Giants)
How Acquired: Trade (from Angels)
College: Mississippi State University
Agent: Bo McKinnis
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|San Francisco drafted Stratton 20th overall in 2012 with the idea, based on a big junior year, that he could develop into at least a mid-rotation starter. His stuff never really developed, though, and he ended up looking like a fifth starter at best. He throws the standard four pitches. His fastball has averaged 91-92 as a starter and, although he throws a slider, curve and change, he hasn’t established a real out pitch. He’s not a groundball pitcher and struggles against left-handed batters, allowing them an OPS of .847. Right-handed batters have had a .763 mark. The Pirates acquired Stratton from the Angels for cash.
Stratton had a strong debut, apart from some control problems. His season was cut short, though, when he was hit in the head by a line drive in mid-August. Baseball America rated him the Giants’ third-best prospect after the season.
The Giants sent Stratton to low A, which wasn’t a very high level for a first-round draft pick. He pitched well there, but didn’t dominate the way you’d want to see. BA still rated him 3rd in the Giants’ system.
Stratton spent most of the season in the offense-happy California League. Considering the realities of pitching there, his performance wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t especially good for a first-round pick in his second full season. BA dropped his ranking to 12th in the system.
Stratton spent the first two months of the season in AA. He pitched decently, with opponents batting just .215 against him, but his walk and K rates weren’t good. After moving up to the Pacific Coast League, he pitched a little better in a tougher environment, but again with unimpressive walk and K rates. BA dropped him to 26th in the system after the season, and the Giants added him to the 40-man roster.
Stratton pitched better in the PCL, spending the year there except for a stretch in May when he got into seven games out of the Giants’ bullpen. He roughly held his own in the majors. The Giants did not call him up in September.
Stratton split his time between AAA and the majors, coming up briefly twice before returning to the majors to stay in late July. There wasn’t a lot of difference in his pitching between the two levels, despite the ERAs. His xFIP was slightly better in AAA.
Other than being sent to AAA for brief stretches in July and August, Stratton spent the season in the rotation in the majors. Other than a good month of April, he wasn’t very effective, with opponents hitting 273/336/455 against him for the season.
At the end of spring training, San Francisco traded Stratton to the Angels. He struggled badly in five starts and two relief appearances. Opponents batted 344/424/576 against him and he allowed a home run every five innings. In early May the Angels designated him for assignment and then sent him to the Pirates for cash. He spent the rest of the season pitching in long relief for the Pirates, except for missing a month with an injury in his right side. He was much more effective with them, with good walk and K rates. He had a little trouble with gopher balls, allowing seven.
Stratton served mostly in a middle relief role and pitched reasonably well. His ERA was inflated by a low strand rate of 57.5%; his xFIP was 3.50. Like many Pirate pitchers, he reduced his fastball usage, in his case from 57% to 46%. He mixed in a lot of sliders, curves and changeups, for more of a starter’s mix than you normally see from a reliever. His change produced a lot of swings and misses, and his four-seamer produced a good number for a fastball. The slider was his least effective pitch. The heavy mix of secondary pitches had results that were similar to those of many of the team’s other pitchers, increasing both his walk and K rates.
Stratton led the Pirates in games and relief innings, as he pitched in whatever role the team needed him to fill. He made about an equal number of appearances in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, and served as closer part of the time after Richard Rodriguez was traded. Stratton also led the team in wins, not that you want a reliever doing that. He didn’t dominate, but he missed a good number of bats and kept the home runs within reason, allowing nine. When he had trouble it was generally with left-handed hitters; they put up a .746 OPS against him, as opposed to .620 by right-handed batters.
Stratton is frequently mentioned as a potential trade target, but he’s probably got more value to the Pirates than he would to most other teams. He’s been an important stabilizing factor in a bullpen that still needs to be almost fully rebuilt.
2020: Major League Minimum
|Signing Bonus: $1,850,000
MiLB Debut: 2012
MLB Debut: 5/30/2016
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2015
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2016, 2017, 2018)
MLB Service Time: 4.097
|June 4, 2012: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1st round, 20th overall pick; signed on June 12.
November 20, 2015: Contract purchased by the San Francisco Giants.
March 26, 2019: Traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Los Angeles Angels for Williams Jerez.
May 7, 2019: Designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels.
May 11, 2019: Traded by the Los Angeles Angels to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.