Jeff Weaver’s Value Plunges

My best Angels source indicates that scouts from as many as eight teams were in attendance Tuesday night to watch Jeff Weaver pitch.  Weaver didn’t rise to the occasion, taking his tenth loss after allowing six runs in just two innings to the Rockies.

Weaver’s been an absolute mess this year, thwarting Scott Boras’s attempt to replicate his success with Kevin Millwood.  Boras didn’t find the right multiyear deal for Millwood before the 2005 season, so he settled for one year with the Indians.  After Millwood had a career year, Boras got him a massive five-year contract.  Weaver makes $8.3MM this year in a deal that seemed wise at the time.

The 29 year-old righty has given up a ridiculous number of hits this year in conjunction with way too many home runs.  His strikeout and walk rates have remained fairly stable.  Can any of his problems be attributed to team defense and/or bad luck?  Weaver’s .332 BABIP exceeds his team’s .293 mark, so some of those extra hits could be random. 


Another stat to check out is home runs per flyball.  Ron Shandler’s work tells us that "pitchers do not have much control over the percentage of fly balls that turn into home runs."  This figure tends to be about 10%, whereas Weaver is at 16.8% in 2006.  That mark is the 9th worst in the game (browsing this list helps explain the unexpected misfortunes of several fine hurlers this season).  Pitchers do control the number of flyballs they allow overall, and Weaver’s 2006 level does not differ dramatically from career norms.

Maybe this is a stretch, but if we substitute Weaver’s hit and HR rates with league average levels but hold everything else constant, his expected ERA comes all the way down to 3.84 with a 1.28 WHIP.  That’s right about where we expected him to be this season, and it would’ve been a bargain.  I have to think several teams realize that Weaver has not pitched as badly as it seems.  Acquiring Weaver still makes sense for savvy teams like the Red Sox or Cardinals.


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