There was a lot of hype around Hunter Greene’s debut in 2022 and follow-up season in 2023. And Greene has had some spectacular starts the last 2 seasons, but these years have also been marked by injury and disappointment.

Though Greene posted a 4.82 ERA in 112 innings last season, he pitched better than his final numbers indicated.

Greene was the pitcher who underperformed relative to his expected stats the most of any pitcher that faced at least 300 batters in 2023.

A brief point of explanation:

Sports Info Solutions tracks its own version of a player’s expected stats (like what you can find on Baseball Savant). Rather than basing a player’s hit probability (and correspondingly single, double, triple, and home run probability) on a batted ball’s exit velocity and launch angle, SIS’ version estimates probabilities based on where balls are hit, how hard they are hit, and how long they spend in the air.

This allows us to compare a player’s actual stats to his expected stats.

Here’s the list of pitchers with the greatest differential between their expected opponents’ OPS and their actual opponents’ OPS.

Greatest Differential – Expected OPS and Actual OPS

2023 Season, Minimum 300 Batters Faced

Here is Greene’s actual line compared to his expected line.

Greene ranked right among the worst 20% of pitchers in opponents’ OPS but ranked right around the best 20% of pitchers in expected opponents’ OPS.

I watched the 40 hits that Greene allowed with the lowest hit probabilities. Within that I saw a combination of some bad breaks and some defense that— had it been just a little bit better— would have made a difference in Greene’s numbers.

For example with regards to bad breaks, if this ball is hit slightly to the left, it’s an inning-ending out instead of a 2-run single. Or if this ball is hit a little to the left, Will Benson makes the catch instead of just missing it, literally saving another run from his pitching line.

Another instance of bad breaks, though this of a different kind: In Greene’s first game back from injury on August 20, he allowed 9 runs and 5 home runs in 3 innings against the Blue Jays. Yes, that’s a bad start. But 2 of the 5 home runs barely cleared the fence and were sub-25% home run probability balls by our measures (one would have been a homer in 5 parks, another 13, per Statcast).

As for defense, Greene had the 3rd-worst Defensive Runs Saved support on batted balls of any pitcher in MLB last season. The Reds had -11 Runs Saved on the batted balls against him.

There’s this fly ball to center field that seemed to be lost in the lights, a ball whose spin off the bat fooled shortstop Elly De La Cruz, and a ball that Greene himself just missed on which second baseman Jonathan India could not make the play quickly enough.

The usual disclaimer applies: Just because Greene didn’t get good breaks or good defense doesn’t mean that he will in 2024. But the knowledge that he was on the right track in 2023, even if the results weren’t there, should be reassuring to him, Reds management, and their fans heading into the upcoming season.