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A Quote From Gammons

Peter Gammons has a new blog on ESPN.com, and I'm hoping he busts out all sorts of juicy trade rumors for that other site of mine.  Anyway, something he said today in his first post really jumped out at me, so I'm putting it under Quotent Quotables.

But I offer this: If Chien-Ming Wang is healthy, he can be one of the 10 best pitchers in the American League, not to mention being the best on the Yankees' staff and the key to a 100-105 win season and a longer October run.

Whaaaaaaat?  Can this be even remotely true?  Let's analyze.  Baseball Prospectus projects Wang at a 4.55 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.  I'm slightly more optimistic, going with a 4.35 ERA and 1.36 WHIP.  Neither system expects more than 150 innings, so I'll pro-rate Wang's projection to assume a 200 inning, healthy season.

I'm thinking the best metric to evaluate Gammy's statement is VORP, or Value Over Replacement Player.  So I gave Wang's projected VORP a 33% bump and then ranking all of the pitchers in the American League.  He ranked 64th in the AL.

The top ten:

Santana
Johnson
Halladay
Vazquez
Buehrle
Burnett
F. Hernandez
Harden
Lackey
Sabathia

You can argue some of these, sure.  But can Wang possibly be better than Barry Zito or Bartolo Colon?  Better than Freddy Garcia and Danny Haren?  You be the judge.

In my opinion,  it's a fairly solid bet that Randy Johnson outpitches Wang, and Mussina, Pavano, Chacon, and even Phillip Hughes have good chances of topping him as well.  I would take Wang over Jaret Wright, however.  To even manage a 4 ERA again, Wang will have to keep his hit rate close to 8.7 per nine as it was in 2005.  I know it was only 34 innings, but he had a 10.59/9 hit rate in Triple A in 2005.  I have to think that and his HR rate go up in 2006.

From a fantasy point of view, I opined that Wang would "put up Mussina numbers with the Ks.  Pass."  I have to stick with that point of view unless you're AL-only.


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