Slighting Weaver

Jered Weaver was a top five starter in the 2010 AL.

If you accept the premise, you may expect a few Cy Young votes to come his way. ‘Twas a fine season, worthy of recognition.

Alternatively, you reject the premise and would be surprised if many—if any—writers figured in him the top three. Barely a .500 record, not worthy of consideration.

Or, you may accept the premise but remain bearish on Weaver receiving any Cy Young votes. Good season, to be considered if not recognized.

Just how good?

Weaver led the American League in games started and strikeouts, and that’s about it. His 13-12 record will keep him off many a voter’s radar despite the K total.

Let’s consider some other numbers and Weaver’s AL ranks.

This mish-mash of ESPN, Fangraphs (FG), Baseball Reference (BR) and rankings derived from Gameday (GD) logs may help frame what was very fine season. All are for American League pitchers, qualified by innings pitched or batters faced (GD, which picks up a few extra pitchers).

Stat (source if site-specific): ranking

Very Good Good Meh Ugh
{exp:list_maker}K: 1
GS: 1
FB% (FG): 1
LD% (GD): 1
K/BB: 2
AVG: 2
WAR (BR): 2, tied with 2 others
IP: 3
K/9: 3
Quality Start % (ESPN): 3
Avg. Game Score (ESPN): 3
WPA, (FG): 3
FB% (GD): 3
PU% (GD): 3
OSw (FG): 4
WAR (FG): 5
ERA: 5
FIP (FG): 5
xFIP (FG): 5 {/exp:list_maker}
{exp:list_maker}OBP: 6
OPS: 6
WPA (BR): 6
PU% (FG): 7
BB/9: 9
LD% (FG): 9 {/exp:list_maker}
{exp:list_maker}BB: 12
SLG: 13
HR/FBLD (GD): 20
HR/9: 24
HR/FB (FG): 28 {/exp:list_maker}
{exp:list_maker}Pitches per IP (ESPN): 31
Run Support (ESPN): 34
Pitches per PA (ESPN): 41 {/exp:list_maker}

Weaver had no complete games, easily connected to his inefficiency. Perhaps another factor is the lack of run support—more offense may mean more slack from Mike Scioscia. Weaver did go the distance more than once in 2009, but that’s so last year.

Control wasn’t a big issue, despite the walks. Weaver didn’t hit any batters, a distinction shared by Phil Hughes amongst qualified AL pitchers.

In short, Weaver

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  • took the ball every five days
  • handed it to the bullpen every five days
  • struck out a lot of guys, but walked a few, too
  • kept the ball in the air but was bitten by the home run
  • didn’t get a lot of help from his offense

Forecasting the vote

The most referenced Cy Young Predictor would be the Rob Neyer/Bill James edition at ESPN. The formula, which I believe has been tweaked over the years, is currently:

((5*IP/9)-ER) + (SO/12) + (SV*2.5) + Shutouts + ((W*6)-(L*2))

A quick calculation puts Weaver at 123 points. Which puts him off the chart, well behind Joakim Soria (138.9) in tenth place. The lowest starter on the list is Trevor Cahill (147.1, 8th), so Weaver isn’t really close. Neither is Cliff Lee, who also fails to make the top ten.

The AL votes follow. Going back to 2002, the first year in the ESPN Neyer/James Cy Young Predictor, there have been a couple of big misses by the predictor but hardly any big surprises. In other words, the voters were being themselves and the predictor was just not aligned with their tendencies. The players are listed in order of the Cy Young voting results, with their Neyer/James rank. X indicates unranked (outside the top 10).

2009 Zack Greinke 2, Felix Hernandez 1, Justin Verlander 6, CC Sabathia 3, Roy Halladay 5

2008 Lee 1, Halladay 3, Francisco Rodriguez 2, Daisuke Matsuzaka 5, Mariano Rivera 4, Mike Mussina 7, Ervin Santana 8

2007 Sabathia 1, Josh Beckett X, John Lackey X, Fausto Carmona X, Erik Bedard 9, Halladay 7, Johan Santana 8, Verlander 4

2006 J. Santana 1, Chien-Ming Wang X, Halladay 5, Rodriquez 2, Joe Nathan X, Kenny Rogers X, Verlander X

2005 Bartolo Colon 2, Rivera 1, J. Santana 4, Lee X, Mark Buehrle 5, Jon Garland 7, Kevin Millwood X

2004 J. Santana 1, Curt Schilling X, Rivera X, Pedro Martinez 4, Nathan X, Rodriquez X

2003 Halladay 2, Esteban Loaiza 3, Martinez 7, Tim Hudson 4, Jamie Moyer 5, Andy Pettitte 8, Keith Foulke 1, J. Santana X

2002 Barry Zito 1, Martinez 3, Derek Lowe 4, Jarrod Washburn 9

Weaver is looking like he’ll be left out in the cold. A high ERA, high W, low L season seems to fool the predictor, which does not describe Weaver’s season.

How have some other low-winners fared in recent voting? Since 2001, only three pitchers have racked as few as 13 wins and made it on an AL ballot. Colon’s 10-in-each-league season is not included.

2007 Bedard     13- 5 3.16  
2005 Millwood    9-11 2.86*
2003 J. Santana 12- 3 3.07 

Millwood led the league in ERA in 2005. Behold the power of wins. You’d think someone would realize Millwood’s record was somehow impacted by the guys playing behind him. Actually, you’d think more than one person would notice. Each of the three—Bedard, Millwood and Johan Santana—got one third place vote.

Will Weaver muster a third place vote this season? I don’t know, but one problem he’ll face is Ervin Santana. Weaver’s rotation-mate went 17-10 with a 3.92 ERA.

References & Resources
“Standard” stats and rankings: ESPN, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference. Gameday from MLBAM, PITCHf/x from MLBAM and Sportvision. Pitch classifications by the author.

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Peter Jensen
Peter Jensen

I had cause to look up the leaders in RE24 the other day on Fangraphs and was surprised to see Weaver sitting at number 5 in the majors, number 2 in the AL.  I made a mental note to check other measures of performance, but I am glad you beat me to it.  Nice article Harry.

Harry Pavlidis
Harry Pavlidis

Until Tango posted a link to this, I was unaware of the change in voting rules.

Danny Wind
Danny Wind
The Cy Young ballot has expanded to five spots this year, which definitely increases the chances of Weaver getting a vote. You’d have to think one of the LA writers would find a spot for him, at least. The Cy Young Predictor was a nice tool at one time, but it really doesn’t work anymore, now that voters are clearly paying less attention to wins than they used to: it missed both Greinke and Lincecum last year (Lincecum only ranked 4th), and it’s got Hernandez ranked 6th in the AL this year, when he’s all but certain to at least… Read more »
Yeah the predictor sure overestimates RP. The move to 5 names on the ballot helps guys like Weaver get recognition, which is what he deserves.  However the AL CYA is stacked with good SP this year who could all have a case made for a vote based on trad and/or adv stats:- CC, Price, Lester, Verlander, Cahill, Bucholtz all had plenty of W or and/or a shiny era. Felix, Lee, Lirano, Weaver, Greinke all looked good from an advanced value view. (obviosuly some were good from both viewpoints) Thats 10+ SP who can be given a defensible vote, then add… Read more »