2012 Chicago Cubs Outlook: Starting Pitching

In my first installment of seven where I’m going to look at the outlook of the Cubs 2012 season. I’ll examine the options the Cubs have for their starting rotation

Key Departures

Carlos Zambrano: Good riddance. He was a cancer on the team and major distraction. Anything they would get in return for him, Chris Volstad in this case, makes me view this as a positive deal for the Cubs.

Andrew Cashner: I’ve been vocal about liking this kid, and I still like the kid a lot, but when you can single-handily flip him into Anthony Rizzo you have to take that opportunity. I like Cashner pitching in San Diego.

Realistic Rotation Options

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The Angels’ 2012 Rotation

The Los Angeles Angels left the winter meetings with a splash. They signed possibly the best free agent starting pitcher on the market in C.J. Wilson and some guy named Albert Pujols who I hear is pretty good. They spent roughly $331.50MM between the two players that day. Jonathan Mitchell discussed the Albert Pujols deal the other day. But just what does the C.J. Wilson signing mean and how is the Angels’ 2012 rotation looking?

The Angels’ rotation in 2011 was fourth in the majors in WAR with 17.8. They had an ERA of 3.59, an FIP of 3.78, and were third in the league in innings pitched with 1043.0. They were very solid and adding C.J. Wilson makes the rotation even better. Not to mention division rivalTexaswill not have Wilson anymore either. Let’s take a look at who the Angels 2012 rotation will feature.
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MLB Top 50 Free Agent Predictions

 

MLB Trade Rumors recently released their top 50 free agents and where they think each player will sign. They had a competition where fans could submit their predictions to win prizes. Here are my predictions for the top 50 free agents.

 

1.  Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals
2.  Prince Fielder Chicago Cubs
3.  Jose Reyes Milwaukee Brewers
4.  C.J. Wilson New York Yankees
5.  Yu Darvish Texas Rangers
6.  Edwin Jackson Washington Nationals
7.  Jimmy Rollins Philadelphia Phillies
8.  Aramis Ramirez Los Angeles Angels
9.  Carlos Beltran Boston Red Sox
10.  Jonathan Papelbon Boston Red Sox
11.  Michael Cuddyer Seattle Mariners
12.  Mark Buehrle Florida Marlins
13.  David Ortiz Boston Red Sox
14.  Ryan Madson Philadelphia Phillies
15.  Hiroki Kuroda Los Angeles Dodgers
16.  Carlos Pena Pittsburgh Pirates
17.  Francisco Rodriguez Baltimore Orioles
18.  Roy Oswalt Baltimore Orioles
19.  Javier Vazquez Retirement
20.  Heath Bell Florida Marlins
21.  Coco Crisp Chicago White Sox
22.  Hisashi Iwakuma Minnesota Twins
23.  Kelly Johnson Toronto Blue Jays
24.  Josh Willingham Tampa Bay Rays
25.  Paul Maholm New York Mets
26.  Grady Sizemore St. Louis Cardinals
27.  Bartolo Colon Texas Rangers
28.  Erik Bedard Seattle Mariners
29.  David DeJesus Chicago Cubs
30.  Jason Kubel San Francisco Giants
31.  Ramon Hernandez Pittsburgh Pirates
32.  Jeff Francis Colorado Rockies
33.  Chris Capuano San Diego Padres
34.  Tsuyoshi Wada Toronto Blue Jays
35.  Clint Barmes Detroit Tigers
36.  Casey Kotchman Cleveland Indians
37.  Freddy Garcia New York Yankees
38.  Aaron Hill Los Angeles Dodgers
39.  Johnny Damon Cleveland Indians
40.  Aaron Harang Los Angeles Angels
41.  Jamey Carroll Houston Astros
42.  Rafael Furcal St. Louis Cardinals
43.  Juan Pierre Cincinnati Reds
44.  Frank Francisco Arizona Diamondbacks
45.  Jason Marquis New York Mets
46.  Joel Pineiro Los Angeles Dodgers
47.  Jonathan Broxton New York Mets
48.  Joe Nathan Cincinnati Reds
49.  Kerry Wood Retirement
50.  Bruce Chen Pittsburgh Pirates

 

Why I Hate Pitcher Win-Loss Records

After looking through the box scores from last night’s game I couldn’t help but resurface the feelings I have for wins and losses for a pitcher. I hate the win-loss stat. I really do. It rarely, if ever, tells the true story of how a pitcher has performed in a given year and it can be very misleading in a career, just ask Bert Blylevan. Here is a table of 12 pitchers who have out-performed their current win-loss record.

   ERA  FIP  K/9  BB/9  HR/9  IP  fWAR  W-L
 Matt Garza  3.72  2.97  9.23  3.26  0.62  116.0  3.0  4-7
 John Danks  3.79  3.99  6.81  2.69  1.01  107.0  1.6  4-8
 Doug Fister  3.33  3.23  5.49  1.97  0.43  146.0  3.0  3-12
 Bud Norris  3.60  3.74  8.86  3.32  1.11  130.0  1.6  5-7
 R.A. Dickey  3.74  3.94  6.28  2.61  0.94  134.2  1.3  5-8
 Dustin Moseley  3.30  3.95  4.80  2.70  0.75  120.0  0.8  5-8
 Madison Bumgarner  3.56  2.43  7.91  1.92  0.36  126.1  3.9  3-10
 Ervin Santana  3.47  3.68  7.48  2.43  1.03  148.0  2.4  6-8
 Mat Latos  4.05  3.39  8.34  3.26  0.79  113.1  1.5  5-8
 Jordan Zimmermann  3.27  2.84  6.54  1.49  0.50  126.2  3.2  6-9
 Hiroki Kuroda  3.11  3.70  6.97  2.44  0.95  133.0  1.7  6-13
 Paul Maholm  3.16  3.77  5.67  2.90  0.64  139.2  1.8  6-10

These dozen pitchers have a combined 58-108 record for with a combined 3.49 ERA over 1540.2 innings. They have been worth a combined 25.8 fWAR yet only have a .349 winning percentage. No pitcher in the history of the game has had a winning percentage that low with at least 1500 innings pitched. In fact, the most innings pitched with a percentage that low is by Buster Brown who pitched 1451.2 innings from 1905-1913. The innings and ERA almost mimic that of Jake Peavy, who has a 3.44 ERA in 1536.1 innings but has a 106-78 record for a winning percentage of .576 and 29.8 fWAR. Now, let’s take a look at 12 starters who have under-performed their win-loss record:

   ERA  FIP  K/9  BB/9  HR/9  IP  fWAR  W-L
 Jake Arrieta  5.12  5.29  7.01  4.17  1.65  114.1  0.0  10-7
 Josh Tomlin  4.01  4.06  4.88  1.07  1.20  134.2  1.6  11-5
 Max Scherzer  4.28  4.09  7.75  2.92  1.22  132.1  1.7  11-6
 John Lackey  6.20  4.66  6.10  2.77  1.20  97.1  0.7  9-8
 Kevin Correia  4.38  4.35  4.59  2.12  1.13  127.1  0.7  11-8
 Rick Porcello  4.67  4.02  5.25  2.50  0.83  108.0  1.4  10-6
 Derek Holland  4.43  4.03  6.78  3.12  0.97  130.0  1.9  9-4
 Jake Westbrook  4.86  4.38  4.86  3.25  0.93  116.2  0.5  9-4
 Carlos Zambrano  4.59  4.07  6.05  3.41  0.84  129.1  1.6  7-6
 Kyle McClellan  4.15  4.59  4.47  2.68  1.14  110.2  0.2  7-6
 Wade Davis  4.46  4.92  4.13  3.14  1.16  109.0  0.1  7-7
 Brad Penny  4.51  4.41  3.86  2.84  0.87  123.2  1.1  7-7

And these dozen pitchers have a combined 108-74 record with a combined 4.60 ERA in 1433.1 innings. The record is almost identical to the above mentioned Peavy but the ERA is 1.16 runs higher. Dick Coffman is the best comparable pitcher with a career 4.65 ERA in 1460.1 innings but had a 72-95 record. Theses 12 starters have been worth 11.5 fWAR and have a winning percentage of .593 which is right in line with future Hall-of-Famer Curt Schilling and borderline candidate Kevin Brown.

The first group suggests Buster Brown has been pitching when in fact they have been pitching more like Jake Peavy has throughout his career and the second group suggests Curt Schilling or Kevin Brown have been dominating the league when Dick Coffman is more like the pitcher they have been. Now do you see why I hate win-loss records for pitchers?

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert and follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt