Waiver Wire: Appreciating Scott Baker

About a month ago my Rotographs colleague, the excellent Mike Podhorzer, wrote a piece that wondered if Scott Baker was having the second breakout season of his career. Mike sang Baker’s praises…and apparently not many people listened.

At the time of that publication Baker had 4.12 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Typical for him. As I type this Baker has improved on those numbers tremendously, now sporting a 3.24 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Over his last five starts he’s allowed a total of eight runs and only four walks. The last two starts have been masterful. Baker spun a complete game, one run gem on June 11th and followed that up with a 10K, eight inning performance June 18th. Despite that run of success – he’s actually won three starts in a row to push his record past .500 – Baker is owned in just 57% of leagues. Here is a list of starters who have a higher ownership percentage:

Gavin Floyd
Carlos Zambrano
Colby Lewis
Ted Lilly
Brandon Morrow
Francisco Liriano

Yes, Liriano, he of the 4.59 ERA and 1.30 WHIP is owned in 30% more leagues than his superior teammate. Personally, I think Baker gets overlooked by most every season because he’s boring. That’s not a knock against him. He just doesn’t do anything flashy. He doesn’t have a cool name. He doesn’t have memorable facial hair. He doesn’t pump his fist or smash Gatorade coolers in the dugout in frustration. He’s just Scott Baker, and he’s trying his best to make you notice this season.

As Mike pointed out, his K/9 is at a career high. It was a bit higher when Mike penned his piece, but at 8.64 it still ranks fourth in the American League. I don’t have the Pitch f/x wizardry to tell you if he’s spotting his pitches better this season, but his fastball does have more movement this season according to texasleaguers.com. That could account for the higher rate of strikeouts despite Baker throwing his 91mph fastball more often than last season. His success this season hasn’t been lucky either, as his FIP and xFIP are each under 4.00 to go along with the 3.24 ERA.

To me Baker has always been very similar to James Shields. Both were above average, but not great pitchers the past 3-4 seasons but seem to have taken a leap this year. Every team can’t have aces in every starting pitching position. Guys like Scott Baker provide real value to your team. Add him, won’t you?




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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.


22 Responses to “Waiver Wire: Appreciating Scott Baker”

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  1. benjipants says:

    Start against MIL tonight?

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    • tylerzx2002 says:

      I’m giving him the start tonight, but not expecting great results.

      His career numbers (26 ER / 11 HR / 5.28 ERA in 44.1 IP) all scream stay away.

      So I guess I’m looking for your typical “non-flashy” Baker start.

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  2. James says:

    I’d still rather have Liriano. The 4.59 ERA and 1.30 WHIP are ugly, but that’s a far cry from the 7.00+ ERA he sported five starts ago. He’s starting to look like his old self, getting 37 Ks in his last 33 IP with a 1.91 ERA, and leading the league in SwStr% over the past month.

    Here’s the one I wrestled with: Baker or Beachy?

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    • grovebost1 says:

      Wrestled with the same thing. Before Beachy’s first start off the DL, I was content with Baker over him, but after Beachy’s big start, I didn’t have the roster room to drop someone for him, so I offered someone at the bottom of my league a “hot tip” and told them to pick up Beachy so one of my direct competitors didn’t get him.

      Either way I think Baker vs Beachy is a wash, maybe slight advantage Beachy.

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  3. I disagree with your assertion about Liriano. He’s been masterful, vintage Liriano the past 5 starts.

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  4. nolan says:

    Baker’s Achilles heel is giving up homers – so I’m not starting him against Prince, Braun, Hart, et al. in Milwaukee. The Brewers are 5th in the NL in runs scored and 1st in the NL in home runs.

    I’m predicting 5 innings, 4 ks, 4 runs, 2 HR allowed.

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    • nolan says:

      Actual stat line: 6.2 innings, 4 Ks, 4 runs, 0 HR, 3 Run-scoring doubles.

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      • jimbo says:

        Even considering you whiffed on predicting three run-scoring doubles, you’re batting a healthy .400. Impressive.

        Your clairvoyance percentage kinda sucks.

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      • nolan says:

        At least I didn’t call a shutout.

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  5. nolan says:

    I mean, Baker did shut out the Texas Rangers, but it was a day game in Minnesota which means that Josh Hamilton was horribly blinded by the sun and struck out three times.

    So in other words Baker at home in day games against the Rangers is a must start.

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  6. NBH says:

    Um, Mike Podhorzer did NOT sing Baker’s praises:

    “So the bottom line is that Baker’s strikeout rate is due for a drop, and although it may be as simple as looking at his history and assuming regression, the majority of the underlying metrics suggest that this will happen. His increased walk rate may actually remain at that level, which combined with the strikeout rate decline, means his xFIP is going to rise and his ERA will not have a chance to meet it in the sub-4.00 range. No second breakout for Scott without a serving of some good fortune.”

    I seem to own Baker every year – I was bummed when I read Mike’s article, but maybe Baker read it as well, LOL

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    • Mike Podhorzer says:

      Funny, it seems like everyone who read my article came away thinking I was praising Baker, and you’re the only one who realized I wasn’t! Very odd, maybe no one else read the entire article?

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      • nolan says:

        Maybe the title ‘Appreciating Scott Baker’ and the final line ‘Guys like Scott Baker provide real value to your team. Add him, won’t you?’ might have something to do with that.

        Yeah, he’s no ace, but he’s a solid 3-4 starter on 12 team mixers if you’re careful to sit him against tough matchups. He was hurt last year which significantly hurt his projected value coming into this season.

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      • NBH says:

        Nolan –

        Mike Podhorzer’s older article was bearish – Erik Hahmann’s new article is bullish. But the most important opinion is mine (LOL) – I say he is the same old Baker – 3.86 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 7.50+ K/9 going forward. Very good!

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      • Mr. Thell says:

        I think you missed the point, Nolan. They’re talking about Mike’s article from last month, not this one.

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      • nolan says:

        Oh, okay. My bad.

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  7. Kyle says:

    I owned Baker for a spot start or two early this season.

    Awkward segue!

    I own too many pitchers and am in danger of abusing my innings limit, which two should I be looking to deal?

    Greinke, Marcum, Carpenter, Ubaldo, Bedard, Zimmerman, Billingsley, Nolasco

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    • NBH says:

      I would say Bedard only because he is the most likely to get hurt. But it depends on what you need – Billz will hurt your WHIP, Nolasco will hurt your ERA, Carp won’t give you Ks, Zimmerman won’t get you wins.

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