Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/18/14
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We begin. Brett Myers is on the Indians now On a one-year contract, with a second-year club option. The whole deal is said to be worth $7 million, and Myers will go back to starting after spending all of 2012 in the bullpen. In two bullpens, as it were. Myers has done this before, as he was basically a full-time reliever in 2007, and then a starter between 2008-2011. If the Indians turn out to not like Myers as a starter, they can move him back to relief — he’s their player, after all, and he’s demonstrated his versatility — but he’s a starter first. And the Indians’ top starter is arguably Justin Masterson or Zach McAllister, so, yeah. There’s a need. Myers finished 2012 with the White Sox, and the front office considered picking up his $10 million 2013 option. So that gave some idea of his perceived value, as did the fact that the White Sox ultimately declined the option. Sure enough, Myers settled for a year and a little less than $10 million. This a few days after it was reported Myers was seeking too much money. No idea how much Myers was seeking, but he probably didn’t get it. The quick and boring analysis is this: the Myers deal is a fair one, with obvious short-term upside. Between 2010-2011, Myers started 66 games, logging just under 440 innings. His FIP over that span compared with the FIPs of Max Scherzer, Wandy Rodriguez, Ricky Romero, and James Shields. A concern is that Myers didn’t start in 2012, and he’s 32 years old. His average fastball as a starter has declined from north of 91 to just north of 88. He just broke 91 as a reliever, but, we all know about relievers and velocity. Myers’ strikeout rate has dropped, and it even dropped further last year in the bullpen, so it’s unknown just how much gas Myers has left in the tank. That’s why he wound up being so affordable, even for a team like Cleveland. He could be an effective innings-eater, or he could be a guy who used to be an effective innings-eater in the past. Given that Myers has been a closer, it’s not impossible that he could end up closing again as an Indian. Chris Perez would have to go away, but that wouldn’t be an astonishing transaction. Brett Myers has a weird platoon split Myers is right-handed, and he always has been. He’s always thrown a fastball, a curveball, and a changeup, and you’d expect that he’d be more successful against right-handed hitters than left-handed hitters. Over Myers’ entire career, he’s allowed a .332 wOBA to righties, and a .324 wOBA to lefties. We’re dealing with sample sizes in the thousands, here, so there’s been plenty of time for regression to whatever mean. Myers has demonstrated a small reverse platoon split, and that’s unusual. His strikeout rates against righties and lefties are virtually identical. His walk rate against lefties is quite a bit worse. But righties have homered once every 27 plate appearances, while lefties have homered once every 36 or so. Myers has historically done a better job of keeping lefties in the yard, and, accordingly, he’s done a better job of keeping lefties on the ground. This isn’t something that’s going to make a huge difference going forward, but it’s something to keep in mind. It’s something that makes Myers pretty well-suited for starting work, or long relief. The dingers Brett Myers debuted in 2002, just shy of his 22nd birthday. Since 2002, 108 major-league pitchers have thrown at least 1,000 innings. Now, a somewhat popular statistic is HR/FB, but I personally prefer HR/non-GB just because. Out of those 108 pitchers, the lowest HR/non-GB since 2002 belongs to Matt Cain, at 4.8%. The average of all the 108 pitchers is 6.6%. The highest rate belongs to Brett Myers, at 8.9%. He beats Ramon Ortiz, Bruce Chen, and everyone else in the pool. Out of those major-league regulars, Brett Myers has seen the highest rate of air balls clear the fence. Myers’ groundball rate over his career is 48%, but one way of looking at this is that his “effective” groundball rate has been 30%. That is, he’s allowed homers like a 30%-groundball pitcher. He’s spent pretty much his entire career in dinger-friendly ballparks, which is a factor, but at home he’s posted a HR/non-GB of 9.0%, whereas on the road it’s been 8.7%. Home environment isn’t the answer to why this is. Myers just seems to be dinger-prone, so his xFIP is of only so much utility. Of course, Myers has survived in the majors despite the homers, which speaks to his overall talent. Teams have accepted that dingers are just a part of the package. The timing of the dingers Myers has faced more than 4,000 batters with the bases empty. One out of every 28 has gone yard, for a HR/non-GB of 9.2%. Myers has faced nearly 1,800 batters with runners in scoring position. One out of every 51 has gone yard, for a HR/non-GB of 6.0%. Myers doesn’t seem to have a special skill to reduce homers with runners on — there’s a difference between runners being on, and runners being in scoring position — but this suggests that, when there are runners in scoring position, Myers changes things up somehow. His groundball rate goes up, and his walk rate goes up, significantly. His FIP is actually higher with the bases empty than it is with runners in scoring position. Again, this isn’t need-to-know information about Brett Myers, but it is something that differentiates him from your average big-league pitcher. Brett Myers has signed with the Cleveland Indians for one year and possibly two years. You might not care whether or not it works out, but if you’ve read this far, at least now you know a little more about Brett Myers. So you can cross that off your Wednesday to-do list.
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