Can the Rangers Rotation Rebound?

Last year, the Texas Rangers had arguably the worst statistical pitching rotation in all of baseball, perhaps one of the worst in a long time. Their numbers?

Brandon McCarthy: -1.03 WPA, -7.63 BRAA, 1.59 WHIP, 4.74 FIP, 1.23 K/BB
Kameron Loe: -1.65 WPA, -19.81 BRAA, 1.60 WHIP, 4.66 FIP, 1.39 K/BB
Kevin Millwood: -1.81 WPA, -15.99 BRAA, 1.62 WHIP, 4.55 FIP, 1.84 K/BB
Robinson Tejeda: -2.45 WPA, -27.15 BRAA, 1.78 WHIP, 6.19 FIP, 1.15 K/BB
Vicente Padilla: -2.84 WPA, -22.51 BRAA, 1.63 WHIP, 5.26 FIP, 1.42 K/BB

The rotation cost the rangers about 10 wins on the seasons and finished 93.1 BRBA (Batting Runs Below Average). The lowest WHIP of the group came in at 1.59 and the highest K/BB was 1.84. Additionally, any rotation in which the top FIP is 4.55 is less than stellar. How are the Rangers pitchers performing this year?

Well, Millwood and Padilla are still there but GM Jon Daniels turned in his hand and asked for three new cards in the forms of Kason Gabbard, Jason Jennings, and, gulp, Sidney Ponson. Here are their numbers:

Kason Gabbard: 0-1, 2.12 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 0.79 K/BB, 1.42 WHIP, 0.80 WPA
Kevin Millwood: 2-3, 4.88 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.55 K/BB, 1.69 WHIP, 0.41 WPA
Vicente Padilla: 5-2, 3.23 ERA, 4.64 FIP, 1.84 K/BB, 1.42 WHIP, 0.27 WPA
Sidney Ponson: 2-0, 3.16 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.33 K/BB, 1.40 WHIP, 0.02 WPA
Jason Jennings: 0-5, 8.56 ERA, 8.07 FIP, 0.67 K/BB, 1.94 WHIP, -1.20 WPA

Though the numbers appear to be better in the early going, just about anything would be better than the numbers from last season.

In just four starts, Ponson has a very solid 3.89 FIP and, an about league average 1.40 WHIP. Overall, though, his 0.02 WPA suggests his efforts have essentially evened out to just about no contribution. Padilla has the highest K/BB and an improved 1.42 WHIP; however, his FIP implies his ERA has been very lucky. Gabbard and Millwood have contributed a good amount, via WPA, but their efforts are cancelled out by Jason Jennings’ terrible performance.

Overall, their rotation this year has an aggregate +0.30 WPA compared to the -9.78 WPA from a year ago. Lastly, here are the rotation averages:

2007: 4.82 FIP, 1.64 WHIP, 1.41 K/BB, -1.96 WPA
2008: 4.94 FIP, 1.56 WHIP, 1.25 K/BB, +0.06 WPA

Take out Jason Jennings and his awful statistics and the 2008 rotation looks a whole lot better, but in the early going, it appears to be very comparable to last season. It is too early to say the rotations are definitively similar in quality but they are currently below average statistically, and Sidney Ponson has not yet imploded.

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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All the Rangers have to do is play another hundred games against the Mariners and their rotation will have the best record in baseball.