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Monday, February 09, 2004

K/9 Ain't Everything

The Angels' very first offseason acquisition was former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kelvim Escobar. At the time, Escobar looked like a good pick up, with a solid 2.84 ERA on grass in 2003, and a career K/9 of 7.89. As Voros McCracken's work tells us, the only things you can reliably judge pitchers' ability on are strikeouts, walks, and home runs, in order of reliability; everything else is defense dependent. So Escobar looks like a pretty good bet, yeah? He's definitely in the Angels' mold of finding buried pitching treasure. Groundball pitcher on turf, and wow -- gasoline, meet fire.

Except maybe not. Escobar topped Baseball Prospectus' worst signings list. Joe Sheehan, who wrote the article, claimed the Angels signed Escobar largely on the strength of his 2003 second half. Whether that's true or not, the longer-term view of Escobar's grass splits cast some doubt on his ability off the rug:

Escobar Splits on Grass
YearIPERA
200382.12.84
200232.14.45
200131.23.69

While McCracken would tell you to look skeptically at ERA, the encouraging thing is that his 2003 split occurred with more innings on grass. And speaking of McCracken, his 2003 DIPS numbers would seem to indicate he's getting shortchanged by his defense. While I'm feeling less certain about Escobar's future performance having read the BP article, there's enough positives that I think it was the right move for the team.


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