You’d have to be a very skilled debater to say that the 2012 and 2013 seasons were anything other than a massive disappointment for the Los Angeles Angels. There’s no doubt that the flat performances of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton (talked about here) have had something to do with that, but the pitching hasn’t exactly been helping matters.
In 2013, the Angels had a team ERA of 4.23, which was good enough for 24th in the league. Terrible by any standard, but especially bad for a team that plays in such a nice pitcher’s park.
The Angels have definitely not spent as much time on their pitching staff as they have on the offense, but there are still a few big name guys who have just not been performing for the team or fantasy owners.
Can we expect that to continue in 2014?
- Jered Weaver
We’ll start with the only player on the list that the Angels didn’t acquire via free agency. I talked about Jered Weaver in our Angels preview earlier today and instead of saying it all over again, let’s just take a quick look at what I said.
He doesn’t strike as many hitters out as he once did, but is still one of the best at preventing both runs and runners. You probably do need to budget a trip to the DL or two if you roster him but he’ll be one of the best in the business when he’s out there.
Injuries are the biggest problem with Weaver, but they’re not really the only issue. Looking at his cumulative numbers over the last three years, Weaver looks like a bankable stud whenever he’s on the mound.
Here’s the problem. When you actually break those numbers down season-by-season, you’ll see a trend that’s a little more alarming.
Across the board, that is a steady move in the wrong direction. You never want to see that from anyone, but especially a pitcher who’s dealing with injuries and is now 31.
Looking at the projections from myself and Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball, you’ll see that we both project more regression.
Jered Weaver: 2014 Projections
His projections are a little more drastic than mine. But this is how I look at. If you’re strongest competitor has Jered Weaver, expect him to get to my numbers. He’s a good enough pitcher to deserve the benefit of that doubt. But if you’re drafting him, you should be looking more at Tanner’s projections when setting your goals. You need to be prepared.
Weaver throws a lot of strikes and pitchers who don’t beat themselves with walks should avoid disaster in that pitcher-friendly park. Just be aware of the warning signs which are all around. His best days are behind him.
- C.J. Wilson
If you’re a fan of C.J. Wilson, you may think that this is coming a year late and point to the fact that 2013 was better than 2012, most notably in ERA (3.83 in 2012, 3.39 in 2013).
Here’s Wilson’s problem: While he did a much better job at preventing runners from scoring, his 2012 and 2013 seasons look strikingly similar when it comes to allowing runners. Also, both fall well short to what he did in 2011, even in ERA.
Wilson’s problem is that unlike Weaver, he gets himself into a lot of trouble with the free pass. Weaver may be a pitcher in decline, but he’s a little more dependable since owners know that at the very least, hitters will have to earn their way on against him by swinging the bat. With Wilson, no such confidence should exist.
When you compare 2011, 2012, and 2013 with the way he’s walked people throughout the rest of his career, it’s pretty clear that 2011 is the outlier season and really, it’s not even close. Wilson’s career BB/9 is 3.8 and if you eliminate 2011, it comes in just a shade under 4.0.
Wilson has shown some skill in pitching out of jams throughout his career. In real baseball, the name of the game is keeping runs from scoring and he’s done a good job of that since becoming a starter in 2010, posting a 3.37 ERA over these last four seasons. In fantasy baseball, you also need a guy who can keep runners off of the bases or your WHIP will balloon, and C.J. Wilson hasn’t done a good job of that, as his WHIP since 2010 is 1.278 and since leaving the Texas Rangers for the Angels after the 2011 season, it’s a gaudy 1.343.
On top of that, one of the redeeming qualities that Wilson has for fantasy owners is his strikeout rate, which consistently comes in around 8.0 per 9 innings. That would appear to be a great thing for a guy like Wilson, who’s topped 200 innings every since becoming a starter in 2010 but it makes me more cautious in 2014.
Wilson is now 33 and power tends to leave pitchers as they get older. He’s been good at getting out of the jams created by walks because hitters often make unproductive outs at the hands of Wilson. I wouldn’t bet on that continuing for a lot longer.
At the very least, I would proceed with extreme caution before adding Wilson to my fantasy team. But more realistically, I’d just look elsewhere, maybe for a younger guy with a big ceiling. Wilson is a fine real life pitcher but for fantasy baseball, his pros don’t come anywhere near offsetting the cons.