I had a recent conversation with a fantasy baseball colleague on the value of Jered Weaver. We disagreed on his value, but only briefly got to talk about him — maybe a jab here and jab there, but I wasn’t satisfied so I figured I would take it outside…and by outside I mean this article.
In my opinion, a surprising number of people out there think that it is just CRAZY to believe that a player drafted among the top 40 in ADP, finished 2012 as the seventh best pitcher on the ESPN fantasy player rater (a resource I trust), and has had a stellar ERA of 2.73, WHIP of 1.03, and 51 wins (15+ per season average) over the last three seasons would be among one of the better pitchers in the game!
This is why I have taken it upon myself to debunk a couple of anti-Weaver arguments that have been floating around since the end of the 2012 season.
I understand one of the main concerns is his velocity, but I am not all that worried. Excuse the cliché, but Weaver is a pitcher not a thrower. He has never had overpowering stuff to begin with and has always been more than capable of performing admirably. That’s because he has a very deceptive delivery with pinpoint control that allows him to “pound” his spots with ease. He was super effective last year with an 88 MPH heater (which he was consistently hitting in his last start out), so I am not buying the velocity argument one bit.
A second red flag people bring up is his steep decline in strikeouts over the last three seasons, from over 200 Ks in 2010 down to only 142 in 2012. Yikes! OK, I agree it’s not exactly what you want to see, but I really think the 2010 number is the aberration rather than his 2012. For Weaver’s career he has a 7.62 K/9, so when he all of the sudden dominated with a 9.35 K/9 we should have known better than think he would repeat that rate.
Sure, his 6.77 K/9 rate last year was his lowest since 2007, but he also suffered from a back injury which probably lingered well beyond his stay on the DL. In fact, before going on the DL with that injury his K rate was 7.43 K/9, which is actually right in line with his career average – what a coincidence! (Someone really needs to invent a commonly accepted font for sarcasm). So once again, I don’t think this is anything to be worried about, and the great ERA and WHIP will more than make up for the slightly below average K rate.
ERA vs. FIP/xFIP
The last argument I have commonly heard, and will take pleasure in debunking is that his FIP and xFIP are always at least a run higher than his ERA. To this I say…SO WHAT! Pitchers don’t pitch independent of their defense (FIP) and they don’t give up theoretical home runs (xFIP). Weaver is pitching behind a very similar defense than he was last year, so I see no reason to think his ERA will regress to his FIP. As for xFIP, which assumes his HR rate will normalize to league average makes no sense to me. Some pitchers, for whatever reason will have a better HR/FB rate than league average whether it is because of his home park (check) or division full of pitcher’s parks (check). Weaver, despite being fly ball pitcher, has a skill that allows him to do a considerably better job keeping fly balls in the park.
Overall, when it comes to Weaver I say haters gonna hate, but in my view there is lots to love. I say he is a top 20 pitcher or No. 2 fantasy starter with ease and you can take that to the bank.
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