Thoughts on Wandy

While discussing the virtues of Mark Buehrle earlier this week, I made sure to point out that the White Sox lefty is only 30 years old despite having the veteran reputation of being older. In the comments of that thread, somebody mentioned that Wandy Rodriguez could be the next pitcher to not only match Buehrle in terms of consistent durability but also with regards to consistently high win values. I hate to break it to those on the Wandy-Wagon, but this is not going to happen.

Don’t get me wrong, Rodriguez has pitched quite well since 2007, but he is currently in the opposite situation of Buehrle. Though Rodriguez may have the reputation of a younger prospect-type pitcher who has finally turned a corner, raise your hand if you knew, without looking it up, that he, too, turned 30 years old this year. Buehrle jumped onto the scene at the tender age of 21 and has been pretty fantastic ever since. Wandy debuted at the age of 26 and did not really become effective until he turned 28.

At 30 years old, Rodriguez likely still has several effective seasons in the tank, but there is absolutely no comparison between he and Buehrle. Through nine starts this season, however, Rodriguez has been tremendous. In 59 innings, he has surrendered just 43 hits with a 53/16 K/BB ratio. Put together, Wandy has already amassed +2.1 wins on the heels of a 1.83 ERA and 2.52 FIP.

Since his 2005 call-up, Wandy has essentially improved in FIP, UBB/9, K/9, HR/9, and WAR each season. He relies more on acumen than raw stuff since, well, 88-89 mph with average-ish movement isn’t all that impressive.

The two big red flags relative to his current production level are the strand rate and percentage of home runs per fly ball. The league averages for both metrics are 72% and 11%, respectively; Wandy currently sits at 80% and 1.6%. The 80% strand rate becomes more significant given his individual context; Wandy has been at 72% or lower in all four of his previous seasons. When the home run rate and strand rate both normalize, his numbers are going to venture into the wrong direction.

Even so, ZiPS sees Rodriguez capable of a 4.32 ERA and 3.83 FIP over the remainder of the season, meaning his bottom line marks of 3.51 and 3.37 would still be career bests. After two consecutive +2.7 win seasons, he is currently on pace to produce right around +5 wins.

Wandy is certainly deserving of attention and multiple looks, but do not get him confused with someone like Johnny Cueto or Ubaldo Jimenez, young flamethrowers who seem poised to turn a corner before turning 26. Rodriguez’s future may include a few more +3-4 win seasons, but he does not belong in the category of young studs finally reaching their potential.

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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.

13 Responses to “Thoughts on Wandy”

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  1. Charlie says:

    Wandy is a lefty.

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  2. Charlie says:

    He relies more on acumen than raw stuff since, well, a righty throwing 88-89 mph with average-ish movement isn’t all that impressive.

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  3. Joel says:

    If you want to talk about “raw stuff”, Wandy’s curveball is excellent — probably one of the top curves among all LHP. “Stuff” should not be considered a synonym for velocity.

    I also don’t understand the point of comparing him to Buehrle, when you didn’t really offer any performance evidence to support your claim that there is “absolutely no comparison” between the two. Wandy will never have the career totals that Buehrle will amass, but I think Wandy will be more effective than Buehrle going forward.

    ZiPS sees Wandy having the superior FIP, K/9 and ERA over the remainder of the season, Buehrle has even more favorable BABIP and LOB% rates than Wandy right now, and in terms of “raw stuff”, Wandy’s got 4 MPH of average fastball velocity on Buehrle.

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    • Eric Seidman says:

      The comparison statement comes from my post on Buehrle the other night where someone essentially said that Wandy would be just like Buehrle in terms of hitting 200 IP with +4 or more wins for several seasons.

      And stuff is not a synonym for velocity… to me it’s a combo of velocity and movement, where Wandy is about average.

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      • Mark R says:

        Whoever said that was either confused or doesn’t know anything. Probably best to not spend time responding to such people.

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      • Curtis says:

        Again, you’re talking about his fastball. His curveball has exceptional bend and according to at least one source has saved 16 runs per 200 innings since 2007.

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  4. Berkmaniac says:

    Magic Wandy is a pretty cool nickname.

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  5. Joel says:

    I was the guy that posted in your Buerhle post saying he would be your next guy. (by the way I’m not the guy who just posted above with the same name)

    Let me be honest. I didn’t read your post. I just love Wandilicous. I saw two things lefty and unnoticed. So I figured I’d spam about Wandy.

    I did read this post and I mostly agree with it.


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  6. Alireza says:

    Is Wandy as good or as proven as Buehrle? No. Does he have average stuff? No. His fastball may be middling with only just above average movement, but his curve is insane and the fact that he is a lefty also helps.

    You can’t say he has poor stuff based simply on his fastball.

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  7. robert says:

    People sell Wandy short. He has good skills. All his ratio numbers are trending in the right directions. For the most part walks allowed have steadily gone down while K”s per nine have gone up over the past few seasons. LAst year April-June he was sitting at 2.58 whip and an era of 1.15, currently he is at 1.83 and 1.00. His era will go up but a pitcher with a mid 3 Era and 170 k’s a year is still pretty damn good. Wandy has better skills than Buehrle does

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  8. It’s pretty simple. Wandy is taking a path similar to many pitchers in that he is only just now learning how to pitch at age 30. Sure, Buehrle has good stuff, but Wandy has shown an ability to improve every season. A pitcher may have a 100 mph fastball and a 12 to 6 curve but if he doesn’t know how to use them then he will get rocked by major league hitters. Wandy is learning how to become an elite pitcher with his limited velocity and continues improving every year.It is possible that he could continue this trend for a few more seasons. It is likely that Buehrle has topped out as far as his potential. He has become comfortable with his “stuff” and is unlikely to improve much more, whereas Wandy is constantly finding ways to improve. It is not ridiculous to believe that he could continue this trend and match Buehrle’s stats over the next few seasons if Buehrle doesnt start learning from his mistakes like Wandy has done.

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  9. mike says:

    according to HQ, Wandy’s expected ERA year to date is 3.90, Cueto’s is 4.07. Those ERA’s are not park adjusted, so Wandy’s xERA is about right, Cueto’s should be higher. That Cueto pitches in a band box and Rodriguez doesn’t, anyone suggesting he can’t be compared to Cueto need to look at the #’s a little closer and maybe watch Wandy pitch. It’s fun to be smug and cocky, but at least be accurate when you are.

    Cueto throws a straight 91-92 FB with above average slider and so-so changeup, Wandy throws 88-91 straight FB with a wicked curve and a so-so change up. Cueto’s average FB velocity this year is 92.6, Wandy’s 89.7. Cueto’s issues 16BB’s in 60 IP, Wandy 18 BB’s in 63 IP. Cueto induced 1.02 groundballs for every flyout, Wandy 1.14 groundball for every flyout. Wandy has thrown his FB 52%, curve 33%, change 11%, slider 1.5%, Cueto is 64% FB, 29% slider, 6% change up, their stuff is comparable.

    In terms of projected ERA/WHIP going forward, they’re about as comparable as two pitchers can be, though Wandy should be expected to post slightly better #’s given the park, as is projected by Ron Shandler. Now comparing Ubaldo Jiminez to Wandy, now that’s flat out ridiculous. Certainly Jiminez’s stuff is better than both, but he has to show control longer for a month before he can be in the conversation.

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