Because of his dominant 2014 season, Watson had gained attention in the minds of the baseball analysts. Outlets started to rank him among the best relievers in the entire game. Though his 2015 showing came out as impressive, there were some concerns. The positives were he gave up less hits per innings pitched (6.6-7.4) and had a lower WHIP for the season (0.956-1.022). Watson's win totals are irrelevant and his slight jump in ERA is not a concern. However, he did see a decrease in his strikeout rate, just 62 strikeouts in just over 75 innings pitched. That impacted his FIP, which increased slightly to 2.84. In 2014, Watson averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, a number that dropped to 7.4 in 2015.
In the world of the left handed specialist, striking out batters is not the most important thing. A left hand reliever generally comes into the game to face a single left hand batter and is responsible for getting him out anyway possible. More important than a strikeout is to simply get the out. The ability to strand runners on base separates the great specialists from the average to below average pitchers in that capacity.
Tony Watson is not a left handed specialist. The Pirates have used Watson predominantly as the lead reliever to get to closer Mark Melancon. Watson has, over the past two seasons, been used as the Pirates eighth inning reliever. In the age of hard throwing relievers, it has become important for both ninth inning closers and eight inning closer to have high strikeout rates. Watson's strikeout decreased last season and to this point, he has a walk rate that is quite alarming. Put the two together and he is clearly not the same pitcher. Not one that deserves to be discussed as one of the top five in the entire game of baseball. Is he overrated? I think 2016 is a fair enough barometer to answer that question.