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Friday, February 20, 2004

A Dreamier Jeff Weaver

The title of Jon's note about Jeff Weaver's brother, Jared, got me thinking about Jeff hisself. There's reason to be optimistic about Jeff, which, given my catechism is Murphy's Law, should surprise and delight the reading audience:
  1. He's not facing the batters in the AL East. I'm not sure if this is a huge factor, but getting shelled by Boston just can't be a good feeling, against whom he went 0-0 with four no decisions with a 5.21 ERA. Reviewing his record, however, he fared far worse, surprisingly, against the unlikelies of Kansas City and Tampa Bay.
  2. He's pitching in Dodger Stadium, the tonic effects of which have already been noted on other pitchers.
  3. He's out of Yankee Stadium minus the expectation of being some sort of Greek god.
  4. He's got better infield defense behind him. Beltre, Izturis, Cora, and Green (Green? Please say it ain't so...) will be better than anything he had in New York.
  5. He's moving to the NL minus the DH.
His K/9 ought to be closer to his career average of 5.93 rather than the fairly dangerous 5.25 he put up this year. What I think is most interesting about him, though, is his WHIP took a sudden rise in 2003, mostly due to a full two point H/9 increase. From Voros McCracken's work, we know that H/9 is, for most pitchers, not controllable (though there are a few exceptions) and should tend to regress to his career average. Weaver was, when he came up, principally a groundball pitcher, but that's changed over time, and he's now nearly balanced over the last two years. With more solid infield defense behind him, and reasonable support in the outfield, Weaver has a good shot at a 3.75-4.00 ERA -- no Cy Young candidate, but far from ineffective. In other words, a competent number 5. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections agree, showing him having a 4.07 ERA year, which practically calls for celebration.

Update: Looking up Weaver's DIPS ERA lends a lot of credence to this -- he's on the leaderboard for dERA-ERA. Not that this necessarily matters; dERA-ERA discrepancies only tend to work if they're positive (i.e., they predict decline). It does make me wonder, though, whether the league suddenly get a read on him somehow.


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