Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sportswriters Get Paid For This Part II

John Donovan of SI.COM is convinced that Jeff Weaver can become, "An ace, top-of-the-rotation type. In the running for the Cy Young award."

This is the same John Donovan who last year wrote,

"My surprise early NL Cy Young pick -- you can laugh at me later, if you'd like -- is L.A.'s Jeff Weaver... Weaver is one of the most underrated pitchers in the league. He is a gamer, a guy who gives quality innings and quality starts, and he's maturing into his role as a staff leader. With a little luck and a little offense, he can win 20 games this year. Believe it."

The funny thing is, is that he was called on this prediction last year. He defended himself by writing:

"OK, OK. Truth is, despite his last dud of an outing, I'm still on the Weaver bandwagon (where an upgrade to a relatively empty first class can be had for a bargain). Look up his quality starts from last year. Look at his stuff. Look at the innings he had last year and his record despite the abysmal run support. I said he was a longshot for the Cy, but I do think he has the stuff for it. And the mental stuff you talk about ... he's way past that. Check him out."

I doubt that Donovan can be persuaded that it is foolish to project a pitcher like Jeff Weaver as an "ace." But Weaver's monthly splits historically show inconsistency. Looking at comparable pitchers through age 28, Weaver's last season, clearly shows that Weaver is not in an elite class.

Serious study of this type of pitcher shows that rarely will break away from the mean. Sure, Weaver has games and months of brilliance, but he has as many games and months where he is terrible.

Weaver's career ERA is 4.44 after 209 career starts and 226 career games. Is it realistic to expect this kind of pitcher to put it all together at age 29, after so many seasons of mediocrity?

I am not saying that Weaver is a bad pitcher, or that he has no value. All I am arguing, is that he will never be an ace on anything but an average pitching staff, and he will never contend for the Cy Young award. He consistently exceeds 30 starts and 200+ innings pitched each season, with a league average ERA. Pitchers like Weaver do have value, but let's not confuse them with true aces.

No comments: