Originally posted on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/17/13
In my constant quest to further the collective fantasy baseball intellect the world over (does that sound too preachy?) I sometimes submit guest posts to other fantasy sites. One of those sites, Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks, accepted a guest post I wrote on December 22, 2012 titled “You Should Let Someone Else Draft Jered Weaver.” I don’t like being repetitive if I can avoid it — by the way this is out 1,088th post here on Baseball Professor so I guarantee I’ve been repetitive dozens of times before this — so instead of rehashing everything I wrote about Weaver less than two months ago, I’ll include an excerpt from my previous ramblings.(Also if you haven’t checked out Fantasy Baseball Crackerjacks you should give them a try.)Last season Weaver spun 220 spectacular innings, fooling opponents to the tune of a 2.81 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and .213 opponents batting average all while racking up 17 wins for the Angels. It was his second straight sub-3.00 ERA season and his third straight year with a WHIP of 1.07 or better. While those superficial stats are undoubtedly impressive, the more enlightened among us see troublesome trends that could signal Weaver’s impending fall from the ranks of the elite.In 2010 Weaver struck out 25.8% of the batters he faced. In 2011 that rate fell to 21.4%. Last year it fell again to 19.2%. That rate — 19.2% — was his lowest since 2007 but not much lower than his 2009 rate of 19.7%. That year his ERA was 3.75.Of course, Weaver’s walk rate has slightly improved since that 2009 season, down to 6.1% from 7.5%, so his command rate (K:BB ratio) in 2012 was actually better than that 2009 season. Still, his 3.16 K:BB ratio from last year represents a second straight year of decline.Last season Weaver induced infield flies 9.4% of the time. For comparison, the league average was 10.0%. Weaver’s previous career low was 11.5% (2007), and he’d been north of 14.0% in three of the last four years. Also last season, Weaver allowed line drives 21.1% of the time. For comparison, the league average was 20.9%, and in only one other season did Weaver’s line drive rate exceed 19.0% (2008).And I haven’t even mentioned Weaver’s FIP last year. … One could make a very strong argument that Weaver’s two best seasons were 2010 and 2011, and not coincidentally Weaver posted his two best FIPs in those seasons, 3.06 and 3.20, respectively. Last season Weaver’s FIP was 3.75, so despite pitching to a 2.81 ERA in 2012, Weaver’s peripheral stats indicate he pitched more like Homer Bailey (3.68 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 3.23 K:BB ratio) than Johnny Cueto (2.78 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 3.47 ERA).The rest of this player profile is 100% original to this post. Enjoy!At a GlanceStrengths: W, ERA, WHIP, QSNeutral: L, K, K/9Weaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Matt Cain (SF)Likely scenario: R.A. Dickey (TOR), Johnny Cueto (CIN), Hiroki Kuroda (NYY)Worst-case scenario: Homer Bailey (CIN)Jered Weaver 2013 Fantasy ProjectionThe intro to this profile reads like a spooky story you’d tell around the campfire. “And after three great years of owning Weaver HE TURNED INTO TIM LINCECUM!”Alright, so that’s a major exaggeration. If you look at our Weaver projection you’ll notice that we still like him to post a 3.40 ERA with a 1.12 WHIP over 212 innings for a strong Angels squad that should help him win 15+ games. We just don’t expect another year finishing with Weaver in the Cy Young conversation. His peripherals have declined too much and his average fastball velocity has fallen to 88.0 mph.If you clicked over to that post I linked to at the beginning, you probably saw a chart comparing Weaver’s peripherals last year to 10 other starting pitchers. In case you didn’t, Weaver was one of 11 pitchers last year to throw at least 150 innings with a line drive rate of 20.0% or higher, an infield fly rate of 10.0% or lower, and a K:BB ratio of at least 3.00. Those 11 pitchers averaged a 3.43 ERA, 3.41 FIP, and 1.15 WHIP, so our Weaver projection for 2013 compares pretty well to that.I know I said I wouldn’t quote myself again, but I’m going to do it one more time:Maybe you don’t agree with all this mumbo jumbo. Maybe you’ve seen Weaver pitch once or twice and you think he just has “good stuff” or “it” or some other intangible that the stats don’t quantify. Maybe you’re right. But fantasy baseball is a numbers game, and I choose to use numbers to project which players could break out and which are headed for decline. Weaver very well could replicate the success he’s had over the last three years, but I think there’s a significant chance he regresses and falls into to the second tier of starting pitchers. That’s still very good, and I’d still like to have Weaver on my fantasy team, but I don’t want to draft him like an ace.I’ll let someone else do that.
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