Verlander Can’t Turn Left

That’s no Blue Steel.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr

Courtesy of…

1 Matt Kemp
2 Albert Pujols
3 Miguel Cabrera
4 Jose Bautista
5 Troy Tulowitzki
6 Justin Verlander

Possible names for team six: Just-in Scrupulous, Just-in Sane, Just-in Visable. Maybe later in the season the team can change names to Just-in Jured. After all, Verlander is a pitcher who has thrown over 1,300 Innings (at 95 mph mind you) in six seasons. I think you know where this is going. Justin Verlander is overrated, not only as a first round selection, but even as a Top 3 Starting Pitcher. Fans of JV will not like this hit piece; fans of Francisco Liriano may enjoy this though. That’s what we call “fair and balanced” around here. That’s your cue to click “Read More”.

Let’s just get this out of the way; I do not like Justin Verlander. No, not like that. I mean on a personal level. He’s never introduced himself to me so I have to assume he thinks he’s better than me. Plus he ruined fantasy baseball last season. The 24 Wins and 0.92 WHIP pushed a few undeserving managers towards a title. On top of that he stole Francisco Liriano’s Rookie of the Year Award back in ’06. I hold grudges. Screw you Verlander!

Don’t Tell Me Verlander is Overrated Because of a Stat I’ve Never Heard of

Ignoring BABIP is like ignoring Walks Allowed. Base Hits are important and Verlander’s .236 BABIP is the equivalent of Meat Loaf releasing a hit song. He did it once, but it ain’t happening again. I know most managers would do anything for 24 Wins and a 0.92 WHIP, but I won’t do that. Let’s ditch the nerdy acronyms and get into exactly what that .236 BABIP meant for Verlander.

Total Batters Faced: 969
Batted Balls In Play: 635 (TBF – K – BB – HR – IBB – HBP)
Singles, Doubles, Triples: 150
1B/2B/3B Allowed if his BABIP was normal (for him): 181

I used a .285 BABIP to come up with the 181 singles, doubles and triples. The league average last season was .291. That means 31 Base Hits vanished from thin air. More Base Hits = less Wins, more Batters Faced and a downgraded WHIP/ERA. Thirty-one Base Hits is a lot of potential damage. Detroit’s defense was below average (-3.7 Team UZR) last season. Verlander’s Batted Ball Percentages were good enough to pay for a .275-.280 BABIP. Anyone willing to pay for a .236 BABIP is crazy.

Looking at Verlander’s 4.39 K/BB (8.96 K/9 vs 2.04 BB/9) from ’11

6.29 Roy Halladay
5.79 Dan Haren
5.67 Cliff Lee
4.92 Brandon McCarthy
4.59 Clayton Kershaw
4.59 Zack Greinke
4.50 Francisco Liriano ’06
4.39 Cole Hamels
4.39 Justin Verlander
4.24 Josh Tomlin
4.15 Madison Bumgarner
4.00 Jordan Zimmermann

Here comes the low blow…  Justin Verlander is barely better than Josh Tomlin!

Just kidding, but the three SP I have ranked ahead of Verlander are perched above him in that group. The skill sets and comfort of the National League will lead me to look elsewhere when naming my Top SP. If we’re betting on numbers alone, I’m taking Kershaw, Halladay and Lee ahead of Verlander this draft season.

What you should expect from Verlander this season: less luck.
2012 Forecast: 235 IP, 231 K, 1.11 WHIP, 3.03 ERA, 19 W
That includes a: 8.85 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, 7.7 HR/FB% and .285 BABIP

This piece is a part of the series entitled, Starting Pitching Chronicles. Here, Andrew delves into the world of projections for the biggest and most difficult position to forecast: Starting Pitchers. More entries include:

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. sleeper alert: Francisco Liriano
For Those About to Draft, We Salute Yu Yu Darvish projection