Re: I Hope Wakefield Never Reaches #200
posted at 8/21/2011 4:24 PM EDT
I did a comparrison thread to Phil Niekro in 2009 but even then people wanted Tim gone. Tim is not going to get better imo. He is not Phil Niekro (Burrito).
Burrito, I really think you miss the trend that is Wake's career. Most pitchers peak before they reach age 34. Wake turned 34 in 2000. He had had 2 great seasons up to that point: his rookie half season (including the playoffs of 1992) and his first year with Boston in 1995 (27 starts and a 2.95 ERA). In 4 of his first 8 seasons he had an ERA above 5.08. He had 6 of 8 seasons above 4.25. He had 4 of 8 seasons above a 1.475 WHIP and 6 of 8 above 1.343. His 2 great seasons really brought up his career numbers, but take a look at his career numbers at age 34:
85-77 4.47 ERA in 1344 IP. His career WHIP up to 2000 was 1.42.
Wake had 2 good seasons at age 34-36 as a reliever and spot starter and was 11-7 with a 4.09 ERA (1.305 WHIP) mostly as a starter in 2003. One could argue that these were his best 3 years in a row, but half of his appearances were as a releiver in those 3 seasons. He was 34-37 with an ERA of 3.64 and a WHIPof 1.24.
His next 3 year stretch 2004-2006 (ages 37-40) Wake started 86 games and relieved just 2. He was 35-33 with a 4.52 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Most pitchers have retired by these years (ages 37-40). Wake had shown decline from his first 8 season numbers and a big decline from his previous 3 season numbers. If he had retired then, nobody would have thought twice about it.
What came next surprised or shocked most of Red Sox Nation and baseball fans all over the world. At age 40-41, Wake went 17-12 in 31 starts in 2007. We won our 2nd ring in 3 years. Wake's ERA was a bit high 4.76 and his WHIP was not low at 1.349. Some fans on this site called for his retirement after 2007. His poor showing vs Cleveland in the post season of 2007, being left off the roster for the rest of the playoffs, and his poor performances in 2 starts and 3 relief games in the previous 2 year's playoffs were the rallying cries of the mob led by softy. It's hard for me to see 2007 as a bad year, even though his ERA and WHIP were not very good, but I never thought it was time for him to hang 'em up. Wake's next 50 starts were perhaps his best consecutive 50 starts of his entire career. He was 41-43 years old! I repeat:
his best 50 starts in a row occured at ages 41 to 43! (I'll get to those numbers later.)
From 2007-2009, Wake was 38-28 in 82 starts and had a 4.48 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
His ERA was almost exactly the same as his ERA from ages 25-34 and better than his ERA from ages 37-40. His WHIP was equal to or better than any of the other timeframes listed above, except for his relief period of 2001-2003 (ERAs are usually lower for relief pitchers due to some partial IPs).
As I have argued before and mentioned above, Wake's 50 consecutive starts from 2008 until mid 2009 were his best of his entire career. Again, he was ages 41 to 43 at the time. The streak was cut short by injury, but not before he was rightly elected to the Allstar game in 2009. His WHIP of 1.182 in 2008 was 5th best in the AL and best of all Sox starters that year. All this after many board members had called for his release, retirement or worse.
His ERA from 2008-2009 was 4.32 and his WHIP was 1.29. This includes his final 4 starts of 2009 returning from an injury that would end up requiring ack surgery after the 2009 season. (4GS, 21 IP, 24H and 13 BB, and 14 ERs) If you take away those 4 games, his 2008-mid 2009 numbers would be 4.22 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. These are his best numbers of his career.
Now, the back surgery after 2009 was certainly a major deal. I can understand posters thinking that a 43 year old pitcher coming off major back surgery should not be counted on to perform at past levels. If you look solely at ERA, like many here do, you would feel vindicated holding that position. While Wake did have 4 seasons with 4.97 plus ERAs before 2010, having 2 in a row shows decline in this area. I'm not going to get into the flaws of ERA, playing half the games in Fenway, facing tougher than normal offensive opponents, and the details of how I think Wake's ERA has been inflated by more than his fare share of cheap hits and inherited runners allowed to score, but I do think all his numbers need to be taken in context.
Wake's numbers since 2010 are:
10-15 5.16 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. His tERA is 4.56: much more respectable, isn't it?
(His SIERA is 4.55. His xFIP is 4.68)
Nobody is saying a 5.16 ERA is good. I happen to think it is not as bad as it appears, but I realize that this argument sounds "homerish" or "subjective". The fact is, there are 13 other pitchers in the AL with a higher ERA than 5.16 and 17+ starts over the past 2 years.
Look at this list of 37 AL (only) starters from 2010-2011:
Burnett 59 GS 5.12 ERA
Lackey 54 GS 4.98
Blackburn 51 5.00
Porcello 50 GS 4.95
K. Davies 45 5.69
Hochevar 43 4.88
Arrieta 40 4.88
Bergesen 40 5.08
Talbot 39 4.92
Matsusz 39 4.98
Wake 37 5.16
Dice-K 32 4.81
Peavy 32 4.83
Millwood 31 5.10
Bond'man 30 5.53
Kazmir 29 6.17
Harden 27 4.97
Francis 26 4.89
Vazquez 26 5.32
Penny 24 4.97
Tillman 24 5.68
Reyes 23 5.44
O'Sullivan 23 6.04
Bannister 23 6.34
Mazzaro 22 5.09
Feldman 22 5.33
Row-Smith 20 6.75
D. Huff 19 5.51
Drabek 17 5.52
D. Duffy 16 5.66
J. Gomez 15 4.98
French 13 4.83
Moseley 9 4.96
Meche 9 5.69
Sonnan. 8 4.82
Jakab. 6 5.20
Tallet 5 6.40
One could argue there is no place for a 5.16 ERAstarter on a playoff contender, but the fact is all but one AL team that has made the playoffs since 2004 have had 1-2 starters with a 5.00 ERA (last 7 years)
tERA is not a perfect stat as well, but it is interesting to point out that Wake ranks 47th out of the top 80 starters in the AL by IP (14 teams x 5 starters = 80).
38) E.Santana 4.35
43) P. Hughes 4.42
45) M. Garza 4.46
47) Wakefield 4.56
49) Dice-K 4.58
50) Lackey 4.59
52) J. Guthrie 4.62
54) W. Davis 4.66
70) Burnett 5.00
Now, let's look at Wake's 1.33 WHIP. It is very close to the same or even better than all but one stretch of Wake's career, when he was a releiver. Comparing Wake's 1.33 WHIP to other AL starters from 2010-2011:
Wake is the 45th best AL starter out of the top 80 by IP (120+ IP).
He is tied with Mark Buerhle. Are people calling for Buehrle's release?
Wake's WHIP (1.33) since 2010 is better than...
Rich Harden 1.50
I'm sorry Burrito, but I just don't see the massive drop off you see. Wake's career has not followed the normal beel or S-curve. And, yes, while Wake is no Phil Neikro, the comparison is not as far off as you may think.
1) Phil played in the NL until he was 45. His ERA should have been lower than his AL counterparts. His switch to the AL was helpful in that most AL hitters were not used to seeing a great knuckleball like his. That being said, Phil's WHIP after age 44 1.572 (with ATL), then 1.368, 1.468, 1.597, and 1.651 afterwards in the AL with the Yanks
and others. His ERA in the AL (age 45 and up) went from 3.09 to 4.09, 4.32, and 6.30
2) Phil's career BB/9 was 3.0, but it was much higher after age 43. Wake's has been among his career best since 2010 (2.5/9IP).
3) Phil pitched many more IP after age 43. He was amazing! Starting at age 43, he had these season IP totals: 234, 202, 216, 220, 210, and ending with 139 in 1987. WOW! No comparison there.
Nobody's saying Wake will be Phil. Nobody is saying Wake will not decline. What most Wake defenders are saying is that at his relatively low cost, he is a valuable 5/6 starter in today's AL. He compares favorably to many other AL starters, including a few on the Sox staff making more than Wake. Linking 2010 with 2011 might not be fair. To me, Wake looks much better this year. He is not limping or flopping around on the field. He is doing a much better job holding baserunners and has the best CS% of any Sox starter this year. His 2011 numbers:
6-5 4.97 1.311 are not bad at all. Who knows if these numbers project to 2012. I don't pretend to know if Wake can keep going or will have a steep decline anytime soon. All I know is that there are not many starters like Wake who consistently give good numbers at a low cost.
Out of the top 80 AL starters in the AL this year, Wake ranks:
55th in tERA at 4.79 (ahead of lackey at #66/80)
36th in WHIP at 1.311 (just behind Buchholtz)
These numbers show Wake has been about like an average 4th starter in the AL this year. This is about in line with his career norm. He is not mcuh worse than his past numbers. In many ways he is doing better (BB/9, CS%, QS%, and WHIP).
In my opinion, he belongs back here next year. As this season has shown, starter depth is very crucial. It is not easy to find capable 5/6 starters at Wake's cost. We tried with guys like Colon, Tavarez, Byrd, Penny, Smoltz, Tazawa, Lackey, and now Miller. What will signing 2-3 guys like Bedard cost this winter? What will Wake cost?