The Free Agent pitchers – my analysis.
In reviewing the remaining FA pitchers, I ran some number over the past 3 years that essentially try to remove any "luck" or defense from the equation by normalizing BABIP and using the results to calculate ERA. I cannot remove effects of ballpark or league. Yet. I do have two very similar methods of doing this, and as long as I compare everyone the same method, the numbers are OK for comparison. In this respect, I like these number better than FIP, which is nothing more than a function of hits, walks and strikeouts. This process is still a work in progress.
Anabal Sanchez - 3.76ERA 1.35WHIP
Francisco Liriano - 4.00ERA 1.46WHIP
Shaun Marcum - 4.23ERA, 1.38WHIP
Ryan Dempster - 4.34ERA, 1.46WHIP
Edwin Jackson - 4.37ERA, 1.40WHIP
Kyle Lohse - 4.40ERA, 1.45WHIP
Chris Capuano - 4.51ERA, 1.40WHIP (Technically not a free agent, but reportedly available.)
Jeff Karstens - 4.81ERA, 1.46WHIP
Sanchez is clearly the best. It is worth noting his FB/GB/LD splits are nearly identical to Dempster’s over the past 3 years as well as his K percentage, and the major factor seems to be his significantly lower home run rate, which has to at least be partially attributable to the ballparks each called home the past 3 years. Dempster's BB% is also higher than Sanchez, which makes sense. Dempster is a nibbler. Sanchez is a bulldog.
Liriano has a serious walk issue, but is the strikeout king (23%), just ahead of Dempster (21.9%) and Sanchez (21.1%). Liriano is at a disadvantage here, too, as he has thrown all his innings in the AL, unlike everyone else in this analysis.
Liriano is also the ground ball king (49%) over these year. Edwin Jackson (46.1%), Anibal Sanchez (45.3%) and Ryan Dempster (45.1%) follow suit. Again, only one of these guys spent all his time in the AL.
Trade candidate Chris Capuano is the most home run prone (11.5% HR/FB). Ryan Dempster (11.1%) and Jeff Karstens (11%) are right behind. With Dempster, there is a likely ballpark contributor, but Capuano really, really lacks this excuse. Kyle Lohse (7.6%) and Sanchez (8.3%) were the best at not allowing home runs. How Lohse allowed so few and still had such a lofty simulated ERA shows he might be the luckiest pitcher of the bunch and is probably worth avoiding, especially for what he is undoubtedly seeking. Lohse also surrenders the most line drives (22%!!), and he and Jackson (20.1%) are the only pitchers with a rate over 20. Capuano (18.4%), Liriano (18.7%) and Marcum (18.8%) surrender the fewest.
Marcum is the most flyball prone (42%)which might not be so great at Fenway. His lead in this department is fairly significant as second highest was Karstens (37.2%). However, Marcum did keep his home run rate a respectable 9.9% and spent these years in two very homer prone stadiums. (Although the SkyDome does have a historically alleged caveat.) Liriano (32.3%) and Jackson (32.9%) allowed the fewest flyballs.
All things considered, Liriano looks like the smartest candidate of the bunch. He keeps the ball in the park, and, more important, keeps it on the ground or out of play altogether, and might not require a ridiculous deal, which is an apparent factor. Sanchez is the best of the bunch, but even though he is the youngest, he has been allowing all his splits to be nearly identical to Dempster, who is 7 years older. This does not bode well for him as he ages. Marcum is a good option with a scary dark side, but might be the second best candidate, especially if he takes a short deal. Dempster figures to be the Lesser Sanchez, although he is the oldest pitcher here and could age rapidly. Jackson is just not as good as the others, but is very durable and obviously quite easy to trade. Lohse and Capuano are disasters waiting to happen. And no one even knows how Karstens got into the analysis in the first place.
So really my thoughts are 1. Liriano 2. Marcum 3.Sanchez 4. Dempster 5.None of the above.