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2022 in review: John King

An up-and-down year for the Rangers’ lefty

Texas Rangers v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.

Today, we look at relief pitcher John King.

I am a John King supporter. A 10th round pick out of the University of Houston in 2017, signed to a $10,000 bonus after a season where he was throwing in the mid-80s because he an injury he was pitching with a bad UCL, King underwent Tommy John surgery right after signing. That meant that he didn’t pitch as a pro until late 2018, when he had two appearances in short season ball.

However, a solid year in A ball in 2019 set the stage for him to make his major league debut in the wacky 2020 season, and then establish himself as a viable bullpen piece in 2021. You may recall that he was supposed to go to the New York Yankees in the Joey Gallo trade, but once the Yankees reviewed his medicals (he was on the injured list at the time), they nixed King and took Joely Rodriguez instead, a downgrade that cost the Rangers Everson Peireira and Randy Vasquez.

John King ended up needing Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery, and he never seemed to be quite all the way back in 2022. King started the year in the majors but was demoted for a month in early July, came back up for a week in August, and then was sent back to AAA, only returning at the start of September. The end result was a 4.03 ERA in 51.1 IP over 39 games, with a 4.09 FIP and a 4.20 xERA.

King threw strikes and got ground balls in 2022, but struggled to miss bats, as his K rate dropped precipitously, from 20.7% in 2021 to 13.5% in 2022. He also saw his home run rate jump, despite getting more ground balls in 2022, due to his home run per fly ball rate almost doubling.

King had issues in particular with his cutter in 2022, which he used almost exclusively against righthanded hitters. King allowed a total of 12 extra base hits in 2022, but five of those — three doubles and two home runs — were off of his cutter, which he threw just 8% of the time. While King had success against lefties on the year, holding them to a 630 OPS, righthanded hitters put up an 803 OPS against him.

King is never going to strike out a ton of batters — he is a pitcher who is going to rely on not walking batters and getting ground balls. He is going to have to have to miss more bats than he did in 2022, however, if he is going to have success long-term.


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