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Can Jered Weaver Rebound?

Posted By Brian Joura On January 13, 2009 @ 10:07 am In Starting Pitchers | 4 Comments

Will the real Jered Weaver please stand up? Is he the consensus top talent available in the 2004 draft and the one who went a combined 17-3 between Triple-A and the majors in 2006, with 11 of those wins coming for the Angels? Or is he the slightly above league average pitcher he’s been the past two seasons, someone who can give you a decent ERA but not the innings you hope for from one of your top pitchers?

Weaver went 11-2 with a 2.56 ERA for the Angels in 2006. But he had three numbers that suggested he was not nearly that good. First, his BABIP that year was .246, which would have been the second lowest mark in the majors if he had enough innings to qualify. And second, his LOB% was 86.2 percent, which would have led the majors by a significant amount. Chris Young was the actual leader with an 80.7 percent strand rate. Finally, his FIP of 3.90 was 1.34 above his actual ERA.

And if that wasn’t enough, Weaver struggled with biceps and shoulder injuries in 2007. He did well to put up a 13-win, 3.91 ERA season. That gave hope that in 2008, with a full Spring Training under his belt, he could evolve into one of the top young starting pitchers in the game.

Instead, Weaver put up a disappointing season. But while his 2006 peripherals all pointed the wrong way, now Weaver has some markings which indicate he could be an undervalued commodity on Draft Day this year.

That LOB%, which was so out of the norm in 2006, has done a near 180-degree turn. Last year Weaver had a 70.7 strand rate, which was the 22nd-lowest mark in the majors. And his FIP was lower than his ERA by 0.43, which was the 14th-biggest discrepancy in MLB.

Weaver also regained strikeouts last year, as he averaged a K/9 of 7.74, up 1.31 from the previous year. His control is not as pinpoint as it was in 2006, but his K/BB ratio slotted him between Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy on the leaderboard, plenty good enough to be a number-two type starting pitcher.

One of the big problems with Weaver is that he is an extreme fly ball pitcher. His 0.71 GB/FB ratio was the second-lowest mark in the majors in 2008. He compensates for that somewhat by inducing a lot of infield pop-ups, which helps keep his home runs allowed at a reasonable rate.

According to the RotoTimes Player Rater, Weaver earned $3.99 last year. That should be the lower end of his fantasy range in 2009. Mock Draft Central’s current ADP report does not show Weaver as one of the top 200 players, indicating there is not a lot of current demand for him. The combination of his skill set and room for improvement in luck makes Weaver an attractive late-game option.


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