Jamie Moyer: Colorado Rockies Ace

In Jamie Moyer‘s most recent start, he went 5.0 innings against the New York Metropolitans and struck out 7, walked 2, and allowed a single donger. How a post-Tommy Johns surgery 49-year-old can strike out 7 young, healthy, honest Americans (both North and South Americans) is frankly beyond me. But it is an understatement to say Moyer has surprised me this year.

Not only has the near-half-century man earned a spot on the Rockies rotation, he is pitching like their ace.

When the Rockies signed Moyer to a minor league contract this offseason, I thought it was a solid signing — a cost-effective addition to the team’s overall depth. I had no expectation whatsoever that Moyer would earn a rotation spot out a Spring Training. In fact, inspection of my candor shows I had pretty much bid my final adieu to Moyer’s impressive career:

Nobody is saying Moyer is a key cog to the organization’s 2012 plans. Moyer is in fact a low-risk, low-reward signing. Given his age and the fact he missed a year, odds are he will not be in good form until several months into the season, and at that point, his good form may not be good enough.

If he can show his ability to keep an ERA near 4.00 (or under 4.00 in the minors) and if his fastball — which has gone from 83 mph in 2002 to 80.9 mph in 2010 — shows some life, then, hey, who knows? Maybe he reaches out that robotic arm for a few more twirls.

Moyer is a key cog to the Rockies rotation. There, someone said it.

He is a key cog not because he’s lights out, though; he’s a key cog because the alternatives are simply unimpressive right now. Let’s put Moyer in context with his rotation.

Figure it out? The number for Moyer should make the chart obvious. These are the ages of the starting rotation, plus Guillermo Moscoso who has made one start this season.

Moyer is twice as old as 3/4ths of other members the regular rotation. And:

His fastball is averaging — averaging 76.8 mph. I almost have no words for this. As I suggested in my previous piece, it seems rational to expect Moyer bombing if he cannot pump his velocity into the low to mid 80s, yet he’s touching a career low with relative effectiveness:

The guy has to be using cheat codes or something. Even I can hit a 77 mph fastball, yet Moyer is still getting whiffs — so much so that he leads the team in ERA and FIP right now:

As we can see, Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, and Jhoulys Chacin all sport better SIERA numbers than Moyer and that is well worth noting. I am highly of the opinion that Matt Swartz has made SIERA into one of the best pitching stats out there — both in its backwards-looking capacity and its innate ability to predict ERAs with great reliability — but the truth is we have enough innings from Jamie Moyer now that we don’t need ERA estimators, really.

More accurately, we need to adjust ERA estimators to Moyer’s proven ability to beat them. Moyer has 4049 career innings, and in those innings, he has consistently beat both his FIP and SIERA (and xFIP too).

Moyer’s ERA has beaten his SIERA by about 0.40 since 2002. His ERA has beaten his FIP by about 0.20 — since about the beginning of the Clinton administration:

The last time Moyer had an ERA above his FIP, people could still meet their family at the airport gate. So whether it’s good fielding on his part or just some other-worldly, quasi-voodoo trick, Moyer beats his FIP, his xFIP, and his SIERA. He beats them so consistently, in fact, that we can probably estimate his ERA this year by just subtracting his standard margin from the more stable predictors like SIERA.

In other words, if we subtract 0.40 from his 4.56 SIERA, we get a 4.16 ERA, which absolutely boggles the soul and mind when we consider not only Moyer’s age, but his role as a starter (no one his age has ever been an MLB starter), and his home park.

So, as of right now — and this may well be a fleeting now; who can expect with any certainty that Moyer will remain effective and healthy? that the remainder of the Rockies starters will be so terrible for much longer? — Moyer is the Rockies’ ace. This, of course, is a potent dig on the Rockies’ rotation just as much as it is well-earned praise for Moyer.

The other four Rockies starters (not counting the swing man) have pitched thus far in the 4.08 to 6.05 SIERA range. Will they stay in that range? Possibly, but it is still VERY early in the season, and I suggest Nicasio and Pomeranz have at least the raw ability to sneak under 4.00 this year.

But, until they do — and for perhaps this final fleeting moment — Jamie Moyer is the ace of the Rockies staff.



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Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.


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jorgath
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jorgath
4 years 3 months ago

Actually…can you hit a 77-mph fastball? Cause you could win free tickets to the Rockies’ AAA affiliate games.

Logan Burdine
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4 years 3 months ago

What are the details on that?

Throatwobbler Mangrove
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Throatwobbler Mangrove
4 years 3 months ago

This is unrelated to the throw-as-hard-as-Moyer-and-get-free-tickets thing?

Wade8813
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Wade8813
4 years 3 months ago

IIRC, the contest was who could throw faster than Jamie Moyer, not who could hit him.

JimNYC
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JimNYC
4 years 3 months ago

If you’re not rooting for Jamie Moyer, you hate baseball.

Nate
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Nate
4 years 3 months ago

He played plays the game the way you’re supposed to play it! The John Stockton of Baseball.

NBarnes
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NBarnes
4 years 3 months ago

+1 God’s Own Truth

tz
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tz
4 years 3 months ago

Someone should ask Tony Perez how Moyer stacks up to Warren Spahn. After all, he did bat against both of them.

Logan Burdine
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4 years 3 months ago

To call him the Rockies’ ace implies that they actually have an ace.

joser
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joser
4 years 3 months ago

I once went backpacking with a friend who brought two shirts, which he never washed. He always wore the one he called “the relatively clean shirt” until the one in his pack became “the relatively clean shirt,” and then he switched. In exactly this way, every team — even the Rockies — has an ace.

Dave G.
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4 years 3 months ago

Moyer actually got knocked around quite a bit in the Mets game, and was lucky to escape two jams. In the first inning alone he gave up 6 hits. If not for two timely strikeouts of Josh Thole he probably doesn’t make it out of the third inning. The Mets are playing a lot of lefties that take a lot of pitches, and Moyer was able to get some caught lookings. Don’t think Moyer will fare well against many teams in Colorado.

Madoff Withurmoni
Member
Madoff Withurmoni
4 years 3 months ago

If I remember correctly, there were quite a few rockets that found gloves in that game too. The Mets are a very patient bunch for such a young team. They take a lot of pitches and get into a lot of favorable counts, but often take strike 3 too. I guess it’s an approach that works for the way they’re currently constructed.

Wubbie
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Wubbie
4 years 3 months ago

Every time someone talks about Moyer I think back to the old Bugs Bunny cartoons when he throws a pitch so slow Elmer Fudd has the time to swing and miss 3 times before it passes the plate.

NBarnes
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NBarnes
4 years 3 months ago

Here’s the blog post you need for that reference, Wubbie; http://www.ussmariner.com/2006/03/12/bugs-bunny-greatest-banned-player-ever/

joser
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joser
4 years 3 months ago

And this is the video..
(That’s from 1998 — just like Moyer, this joke never gets old)

jorgath
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jorgath
4 years 3 months ago

I once saw that almost happen on a Livan Hernandez curveball to Dan Uggla. I swear he swung at least twice. Missed both times.

Wubbie
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Wubbie
4 years 3 months ago

Pretty poor quality, but here’s a clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3I1hlNEdC4

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
4 years 3 months ago

Teehee you spelled “dinger” as “donger.” It’s like baseball and innuendo all at once! Dongers forever.

Psst
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Psst
4 years 3 months ago

Love moyer his ERA will rise and he will wear out, I just wish the Rockies bats would stop falling asleep when he is on the mound he deserves to be 4 o 5-0 right now

Impossibles
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Impossibles
4 years 3 months ago

I wonder how much of his effectiveness is from batters going up there thinking they are going to crush his fastball and swinging out of their socks.

Keystone Heavy
Member
Keystone Heavy
4 years 3 months ago

In his defense, his sinker is averaging 78.4 MPH.

joser
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joser
4 years 3 months ago

Not a fan of the blue background on those graphs (get it?). More contrast would be better.

Metsox
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Metsox
4 years 3 months ago

I know what he is doing, but how exactly is he doing it specifically? Killer changeup? Heavy sinking action? Wish the article had looked at his pitch mix a little more closely because I am extremely curious…..

Brent
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Brent
4 years 3 months ago

He does it by taking advantage of the hitter thinking “I can hit this guy; he only throws 70 MPH”. He is always on the corners and in fact needs an umpire with generous strike zone. If he leaves it over the middle of the plate of course he gets creamed – that’s what big league hitters do.

He’s a student. Has a little black book on EVERY hitter he’s ever faced. When there’s men on base and the hitter is anxious to hit the ball into the next zip code, he’ll go slow, then slower, then Bugs Bunny. I saw an at bat in spring training where his velocity went from 79 to 76 to 73 to 69. Strikeout, and the swing on the last pitch was about as ugly a swing as you’ll ever see. I didn’t think a pitch that slow could get to the plate without falling out of the sky like a plane that hit stall speed.

Paul B
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Paul B
4 years 3 months ago

Moyer’s changeup has always been his best pitch. One challenge for him as he aged was whether he could throw the changeup slow enough that it was slower than his fastball.

jim
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jim
4 years 3 months ago

as a rockies fan, i’m truly thrilled for his success; that said, i honestly cannot understand how he hasn’t been shelled time and time again

evo34
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evo34
4 years 3 months ago

Is it impressive that he is playing at all? Yes. But is he playing well? Not even close. His xFIP is 4.50, which is 94th best out of 110 qualifying SP, and better than only Guthrie on his own team.

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