February 2006

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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.



If Only They Could Stay Healthy...

Fantasy baseball is packed with those "If Only They Could Stay Healthy..." guys.  Those frustrating players who never get 550 ABs or make 30 starts, but are valuable when they're on the field.  Occasionally, these players get lucky and make it through most of the season - see Ken Griffey Jr. and Cliff Floyd.  These guys represent solid gambles if you know how to work the waiver wire for replacements.  Without further ado, here are some of my favorite injury prone players for '06.

Chipper Jones only got 358 ABs in 2005 after getting 472 the year before.  He battled foot and rotator cuff problems last year, but ranks as the 6th best 3B in the game when healthy.

Mark Prior recovered fairly quickly from a freak fractured elbow in 2005, but has suffered from more worrisome injuries in the past.  I have him as the 12th ranked starter, though he doesn't seem to be coming at a discount in early drafts.

J.D. Drew had wrist and shoulder surgery in September of 2005, managing only 252 ABs in the first year of a five-year deal.  He did, however, mash .286/.412/.520 when he was on the field.  Drew may not climb back up to that 500 AB plateau, but 450 ABs could still result in $15 worth of value.

Magglio Ordonez's knees are back to normal, but last year he dealt with a viral infection and a hernia.  Call me crazy, but I have him hitting .310-21-94 with 80 runs scored in 562 ABs, a $14 value.

Milton Bradley's value is about $11 if he can get 500 at-bats with the A's.  I have him hitting .300-20-70 with 14 steals.

As I said at AllCubs today, Kerry Wood has some motivators and could surprise you with 180 innings.  Don't count on it, but he's worth a late-round flier for sure.

Nick Johnson had his healthiest season yet, getting 453 ABs for the Nationals.  It's a given that he'll miss some time, but he could hit .300 with 20 HR this year.

Additional candidates: Justin Morneau, Javy Lopez, Nomar Garciaparra.




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