Give Chien-Ming a chance

With Ken Rosenthal reporting that Chien-Ming Wang is going to make a decision on his (most likely) new team within seven to ten days, I decided to once again use Fangraphs’ new splits data and see if there was anything that stuck out with Wang. Here are his xFIP’s from 2005-2009, first versus righties and then versus lefties:

2005: 3.97, 4.46
2006: 3.94, 4.42
2007: 3.68, 4.76
2008: 3.49, 5.00
2009: 3.53, 5.54

That’s 4.69 against lefties for his career and 3.78 versus righties. Although Wang has improved his performance against right-handed hitters throughout his career, he has gotten worse against lefties. While this is unsurprising for a groundball pitcher, the jump in xFIP (1.12 difference in ’06 and ’09) is pretty startling. Let’s take a look at Wang’s batted ball data versus lefties, specifically GB/FB ratio and LD%:

2005: 2.51, 11.8%
2006: 2.84, 17.0%
2007: 2.33, 21.8%
2008: 2.26, 20.5%
2009: 2.00, 25.8%

So there has clearly been an increase in the quality of the ball off the bat of lefties against Wang. However, let’s not forget that Wang only through 20.1 innings against left-handers last year. That tells you pretty much nothing. While Wang may be declining against lefties, he probably is more around a ~5.00 xFIP pitcher against them, which would, combined with his skill against righties, make him a valuable pitcher relative to his asking price. Finally, here are his projected FIP’s for 2010:

CHONE: 3.94
MARCEL: 4.29
Bill James: 3.81
Fans (24): 3.94

Not bad. Considering Wang has also consistently outperformed the league average on HR/FB% (other than his outlier ’09 season), Wang could conceivably be a ~2.3 WAR pitcher next year if he recovers fully from his injury. That issue is a whole other story, but for now, non-injury Chien-Ming Wang is looking like a bargain.

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Pat Andriola is an Analyst at Bloomberg Sports who formerly worked in Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department. You can contact him at or follow him on Twitter @tuftspat
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big fan
big fan

he had a historically bad 2009

Pat Andriola
Pat Andriola

big fan,

I think the metrics used in that post (i.e. wins, game score) are horribly insufficient in properly analyzing pitcher performance.