Bill James 2010 Projections -- Part Two: Pitchers

Hitting? That's the bad news. That's opening up the pantry after not eating for a week and finding nothing put potted meat ("Now with partially defatted beef fatty tissue!").

Pitching? That's the good news. That's after you take the potted meat and put it on a delicious, flaky Ritz cracker and swallow it whole, trying to ignore the gag reflex that comes immediately after smelling the unholy processed chum, plugging your nose as the smooth puree slides down the back of your throat, but, oh god, some of is still stuck to the back of your throat, and you can't hold back as you retch violently before passing out. You wake up three days later with an IV sticking out of your arm. A nurse offers you a delicious, flaky Ritz cracker without potted meat on it. You take it. Hey, it's pretty good. It's all buttery. That's the pitching.

But it isn't likely to be as good next year. There was a little bit of luck running with some of the pitchers. Like, oh...

 

The clutchest pitcher in the world until he poops out the horseshoe. Affedt had a fantastic year getting the dealer to bust when he was standing on 11. That's probably not going to keep happening, but he's still a fine pitcher. He almost made up for Renteria. Almost.

The cluchest p...hey. Cain wil probably have another Cain year, complete with an ample supply of blown saves by his relievers, mathematically impossible run support, and diplomatic post-game quotes. Prince Fielder's projection has him at a .967 OPS, which gets me thinking, but I'll hold on to that kernel of thought until my week-long series on Cain-for-Fielder.

 

Both sides are right. Howry is still a worthwhile reliever with a good strikeout/walk ratio, but he was absolute murder on close games last season. Did he tense up in crucial situations, or did he just have an odd distribution of poor performances? Yes. But it isn't much of a gamble to bring him back if he wants to return.

 

That looks like a worthwhile addition to the bullpen, but I'm not sure the Giants need Randy Johnson on a roster with Jeremy Affeldt and Dan Runzler. If that reads like a familiar sentence, it's probably because I wrote that sentence over and over in 2001.

 

If it makes the Reds feel better, Drew Stubbs is projected to be something like Aaron Rowand but $12M cheaper next year. That's something.

 

Aaaaaand suddenly I'm a little suspicious of these projections. I mean, I love Joe Martinez. Everyone does. Your mom thinks he's nice. He'd probably hold a door open for you if you were carrying groceries. And he might be a good long man, or even a back-of-the-rotation starter, with the ability to put up league-average ERAs. Heck, that might start next year. But I wouldn't predict it just yet.

 

Another reliever who is likely to poop out a horseshoe. Heckuva year, and another astute bullpen signing by Sabean, but he isn't a 3.00 ERA kind of pitcher. Did you know he was second on the team in relief innings? Weird.

 

Another reliever who is likely to poop out a horseshoe. Heckuva year, and another astute bullpen signing by Sabean, but he isn't a 3.00 ERA kind of pitcher. Did you know he was sixth on the team in relief innings? Not so weird.

A starter with an ERA over 4.00? How brutish and gauche. Lost in the Penny madness of the last month was the fact that he wasn't striking out a whole bunch of hitters. Small sample sizes are in play a little, but he wasn't exactly Lincecum in Boston, either. At the right price, he'd be a fantastic option. I'm thinking he's going to get three years and much millions, though. That's probably not a good buy.

 

Uh, okay. I'm as big of a Romo fan as anyone, but this seems pretty danged optimistic (assuming the innings pitched is too low). Then I remember Romo's PECOTA comps before last season: Keith Foulke, John Wetteland, and Jeff Reardon. Just pulling this from my nether regions, but I'd wager that those are three of the 100 best relievers in the modern era. Romo doesn't allow a lot of homers, he throws strikes, and he gets a fair amount of swing throughs, so that seems to be a recipe for projection convection. Still, this seems pretty optimistic. The top four relievers for 2010 by ERA, according to these projections: Joe Nathan, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Papelbon, and Sergio Romo.

 

By now it's probably clear that these projections are in the context of a low-run universe, so there are a lot of semi-shiny ERAs. Still, I'd take this season by Sanchez. It would be measurable progress.

 

Maybe we could get Russ Ortiz back. Valdez is like Felix Rodriguez without the command, which is to say, not much of a reliever until he develops good command.

 

Wilson's second half: 33 innings, 38 strikeouts, 12 walks, one very unfortunate home run allowed, and a 1.64 ERA. I'm usually not a big seasonal splits guy, but he really seemed like a different pitcher after the All-Star break. For the BABIP wonks, it's comforting to note that he wasn't very lucky at all (.301 in the second half). This is probably the most pessimistic projection of the bunch.

 

Maybe the reason we can't sign Jermaine Dye to an eight-year deal is because we have Zito. So let's enjoy Zito's league-average stylings, and forget about the contract. Besides, complaining about Zito's contract is so '08. It's all about Rowand these days.

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