Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/16/14
James McDonald had a great first half and a horrible second half in 2012. Pittsburgh Pirates fans have a tendency to expect the worst. It’s not really any fault of their own. In the last 20 years, pretty much every bad thing that could possibly happen to the team has happened. You reach a point where the team looks like a true contender in July, to the point where you actually believe it. Then the team has one of the worst collapses ever in the final two months of the year. It’s almost like the Pirates are a living example of Murphy’s Law. The problem is that some Pirates fans take it too far. They allow Murphy’s Law to be their reality. Expecting anything other than the worst possible outcome is foolish and optimistic. It’s only realistic if you’re expecting the worst. Again, you can’t blame these fans. We’ve seen the worst outcomes in a great majority of situations over the last 20 years. But that doesn’t mean every situation going forward will only end up as the worst case scenario. This off-season, James McDonald has become the poster boy for the Pirates version of Murphy’s Law. Every time McDonald is mentioned — whether it’s when the Pirates tendered him a contract, agreed to a one year deal, or just any talk about him being in the rotation — I always get a few comments about how McDonald is horrible. The people commenting about how McDonald is a horrible pitcher are right — depending on which James McDonald you’re looking at. After the All-Star break last year, McDonald was horrible. He put up a 7.52 ERA in 61 innings, with a 51:38 K/BB ratio. Why would any team give a guaranteed rotation spot, and just north of $3 M, to a guy who puts up those types of numbers? The answer lies in his first half numbers. Prior to his implosion, McDonald had a 2.37 ERA in 110 innings, with a 100:31 K/BB ratio. In the first half of the season he looked like an ace. It was like someone flipped a switch at the All-Star break and turned him into a 4-A starter for the second half. If we go back a bit further, McDonald had a 4.21 ERA in 171 innings in 2011, with a 142:78 K/BB ratio. He had a 4.21 ERA in 171 innings in 2012, although his xFIP was worse in 2011 (4.46 vs 4.21). He saw slight improvements in his strikeouts, walks, and home runs. His BABIP in 2012 was lucky (.269 vs .302 in 2011) and his LOB in 2012 dropped to around the league average of 70.8%. Looking only at the second half of McDonald’s 2012 season, and assuming that’s what we can expect going forward, is the wrong approach. Saying that McDonald shouldn’t be guaranteed a rotation spot because of that second half ignores the larger sample of results. It’s the same reason you shouldn’t say McDonald could be an ace this year because of his first half. He was two different pitchers, each for half a season, and neither version defines him going forward. What we can expect going forward is probably closer to the overall results. The last two years he had a 4.21 ERA in 171 innings both times. Last year his advanced metrics lined up exactly with that 4.21 ERA. So if you’re putting expectations on McDonald for the 2013 season, that’s probably a good place to start. He probably won’t have a hot and cold season like he did in 2012 to get there. He also could end up better or worse than those numbers, but the 4.21 range is the most likely scenario. That’s the type of pitcher you pay $3 M and guarantee a rotation spot. It’s only when Murphy’s Law kicks in that McDonald starts to look like a guy who shouldn’t be guaranteed a rotation spot, and shouldn’t be making $3 M. Of course, that’s probably true of any player if you only look at their bad performances, and ignore everything else in their career that was good. Unfortunately, that’s what Pirates fans have been trained to do, just because the bad outcomes seem to be what always wins out. Links and Notes **The 2013 Prospect Guide is now available. The 2013 Annual is also available for pre-sales. Go to the products page of the site and order your 2013 books today! **Spring Training 2013 Position Battles: The Rotation. **Tyler Gaffney Returning to Football.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Brock Lesnar attends UFC 184, keeps MMA rumors alive

Ronda Rousey beats Cat Zingano in 14 seconds

Dick Vitale will not call Duke-UNC rematch either

PHOTO: Auburn coaches, players wear ribbons for Mason

Dustin Penner apologizes after sending rape joke on Twitter

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Cowboys to use franchise tag on Dez Bryant

Report: Panthers officially parting ways with Greg Hardy

Could the Eagles release LeSean McCoy?

AEG: Inglewood stadium would be a terrorism target

Former Knick Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Report: Blackhawks, Caps discussed Patrick Sharp trade

WATCH: NIU C brings down basket on dunk

McCown plans to embrace mentoring role with Manziel

Chris Sale out three weeks with foot injury

NHL analyst calls out media over Blackhawks report

Alabama recruits aim to bring the dynasty back

WATCH: Jon Jones, Rumble Johnson prank Dana White

Anthony Mason: The most 'New York' of the 90's Knicks

Ray Rice addresses domestic violence case, his future & more

Kentucky raffling off Wildcats-themed motorcycle

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell throws down monster alley-oop

WATCH: Tyler Hansbrough, Festus Ezeli ejected for fight

WATCH: Russell Westbrook literally gets dent in his face

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Brock Lesnar attends UFC 184

Rousey beats Zingano in 14 seconds

Anthony Mason: The most 'New York' of the 90's Knicks

Could Eagles release LeSean McCoy?

AEG plays dirty with Inglewood stadium

Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Westbrook got dent in his cheek

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

WATCH: Barkley rips analytics again

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.