A look at Jered Weaver

I’m having a sort of writer’s block, so for today I’ll post the answer to a mailbag question. This reader asked me about Jered Weaver. He wanted to know whether or not last season was a fluke and the league is simply adjusting to Weaver, or if he is getting unlucky this season (specifically with his 1.42 WHIP), or what the deal with him is. So, here is my answer.

2006 and luck

In 2006, Jered Weaver posted solid peripherals, but was playing well over his head. In the four categories we normally check for luck, he was getting lucky across the board. Please note that the league averages given are approximates to use as a guide. Every year is different, but these are typically the benchmarks.

LOB% BABIP HR/FB LD%
Lg. Avg. 74% .300 10.0% 19%
2006 86% .246 8.4% 18%
2007 73% .322 6.7% 16%

As you see, in 2006 he was lucky in every category, getting extremely lucky with LOB% and BABIP. The LOB% explains the low ERA (2.56), and the BABIP explains the low WHIP (1.03). Still, he did put up a 7.68 K/9 and 2.41 BB/9.

His 3.18 K/BB enabled him to put up a solid LIPS ERA of 3.80, despite some luck with his actual ERA. When you fix the BABIP, his DIPS WHIP was a very nice 1.16. Conclusion? Weaver was lucky, but still quite good in 2006.

2007 and luck

Knowing that his 2006 LIPS ERA was 3.80, his 2007 ERA of 3.96 might look reasonable without further dissection. If we look back up at our table above, though, we see that Weaver has also been getting a bit lucky this year, namely with his HR/FB. What’s worse is that a guy with an expected ground ball percentage (xGB%) of 34% is in for an even more severe correction. When corrected, his LIPS ERA jumps up to 4.19. He isn’t quite as bad as his 1.42 WHIP indicates, although a DIPS WHIP of 1.35 is nothing to cheer about.

So how does his DIPS WHIP go from 1.16 last year to 1.35 this year? Quite simply, Weaver’s peripherals have worsened a bit. It could be because the league has adjusted to him a little. It could be because of his injury earlier in the year. It could be that he is just having an off year and he’ll be better next year.

Whatever the reason, his K/9 has dropped to 6.41 and his BB/9 has increased to 2.81, and when you get so few fly balls, you really can’t have a 2.28 K/BB (especially in the AL) and still be successful.

Looking to the future

While we certainly would have liked to see Weaver put up similar or better numbers than he did in his rookie campaign, there is hope for the future. I don’t think 2006′s peripherals were unrepeatable seeing as how his numbers in the minors were very good.

He put up an 11.58 K/9 and 2.76 BB/9 in 101 IP between Single A and Double A in 2005, and put up a 10.87 K/9 and 1.17 BB/9 in 77 IP at Triple A before being called up in 2006. Those are incredible numbers, and make a 2008 rebound all the more likely. While it’s not preposterous, I have difficulty seeing a guy who dominated the minors like that only manage a league average strikeout rate on a year-to-year basis.

Closing thoughts

Overall, Weaver is having a pretty poor year, fantasy-wise, but figures to do better in 2008. I really don’t see him getting any worse than this. His BB/9 could increase a little, but I don’t see his strikeouts getting much lower. I would probably bet on him doing at least marginally better in 2008.

So as long too many people don’t write this season off as a sophomore slump and rebuild Weaver’s hype, he might come at a decent discount next year. He is a little risky in keeper leagues, but depending on the situation might be keepable. If you own him in a keeper league and would like my opinion, feel free to e-mail me your league details, and I’d be happy to let you know how I think you should proceed.

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