Sarah's Take: Darren Dreifort
The 2000 season was an exciting one for Darren Dreifort. Entering his last season before he could become a free agent for the first time, he matured as a starter and could pitch for the entire season. He was the Dodgers’ third best starter in 2000. Because nearly all baseball teams need pitching, the demand for Dreifort is high on the free agent market.
Since Darren Dreifort was the second pick in the 1993 baseball draft, the Dodgers have expected much from him, but he has not reached his potential. When the Dodgers drafted him, they viewed him as a closer, which he was at Witicha State. However, this did not work. At the beginning of the 1995 spring training Dreifort underwent elbow reconstructive surgery. In 1996 and 1997 the Dodgers used him as a reliever, but his elbow prevented him from pitching four times a week. In 1998 the Dodgers began using him as a starter. Though most hitters believe Dreifort’s sinker-slider combination is almost unhittable, Dreifort gets hit. Because his pitches rival Kevin Brown’s in quality, many baseball scouts do not understand why he has not been a big winner with a low ERA. Before 2000 he had shoulder problems preventing him from pitching in September. Because his pitches move a lot, he has had difficulty controlling them. This has resulted in walks, hit batters, and wild pitches. At 28 Dreifort can turn into a dominating starter if he can keep away injuries.
Dreifort had his ups and downs in the 2000 season. This is typical for a starting pitcher learning his craft, but the 2000 season was his third season as a starter. In April he won one, lost one, and had a 2.67 ERA. May and June were disasters for Dreifort with ERAs of 5.40 and 6.25 respectively. In July he had a 2.77 ERA, but he had a 4.04 ERA in August. September was good for him with a 3.19 ERA. His overall record of twelve wins and nine losses with a 4.16 ERA was satisfactory. He limited the opposition to a .238 batting average. He allowed 31 home runs and 19 stolen bases. While walking 87, he struck out 164. He hit twelve batters tying him for fifth most in the National League. His seventeen wild pitches were third most in the league.
Dreifort always has been a good hitter. While in college he was a designated hitter when he was not pitching, and it shows in the majors. He batted .162 with three home runs and eight RBI. In one game in late August against the Chicago Cubs, Dreifort blasted two home runs to the deepest part of Dodger Stadium.
Though Darren Dreifort is a talented pitcher, he has not reached his potential and has had a history of physical problems. Because of a pitching shortage his agent Scott Boras and Dreifort probably will demand a high price on the free agent market. Though the Dodgers need starting pitching, with their payroll limitations and his history of physical problems they must consider seriously whether they want to sign him or not.