Question of the day

Here is the question I pose to our readers and writers:

Who will be a better pitcher this year and have a better career? Jonathan Sanchez, Andrew Miller, Brandon Morrow or Manny Parra. Each guy has serious control issues, but a lot of upside. Who do you like most and why? Include your reasoning and justification in the comments.


David "MVP" Eckstein said...

I'm going to go with either Jonathan Sanchez or Andrew Miller for the following reasons. Despite his command issues (career 4.89 BB/9), Sanchez has an elite walk rate that hovers right around a strike out per inning (career 8.98 K/9), thanks to a low 90s fastball with 8 sick inches of break on each axis of movement. His BB/9, which has spiked up above 6 per nine this year, has improved each season that Sanchez has been in the majors. Clearly command has not been Sanchez's game this season, but that is perhaps because the vertical break on his 2 seam fastball has increased by over an inch compared to last season. Such increase in break would clearly throw off Sanchez's command because he would have to compensate for the increased movement, something he's never had to do before (sanchez's vertical movement on his fastball, prior to the season, had been a consistent 8.1-8.3 inches). The rest of the signs regarding Sanchez are all positive. The strikeout rate is still high, though down a tick from last year. The LOB% (69%) and BABIP (.340) indicate that bad luck has befallen Sanchez this season -- especially given his deceptive stuff. Sanchez's fastball speed is also up a full mile per hour compared to last year, while his other pitches have either decreased in speed slightly or remained the same (which you would expect to result in a comparative pitching advantage over last season). Finally, although his FIP is a full run higher than it was last season, it still remains almost a run below his ERA this season. If he can just cut down on the walks -- if only to his 2007 level of 4.85 BB/9 -- he will have great success in the Majors.

Another pitcher with poor command that I like is Andrew Miller. Despite a career walk rate above 5 (5.03 per nine), Miller's command has increased every season in the majors (from 8.71 BB/9 in 2006 to 5.48 BB/9 in 2007 to 4.70 BB/9 in 2008 to his current mark of 4.47 BB/9 this season). Furthermore, he is an extreme groundball pitcher (1.73 GB/FB this season, 1.61 career) who strikes out an above average amount of guys (7.43 K/9). These two aspects of Millers game result in the following: not very many home runs (career 0.64 HR/9) and an ability to get out of jams. If Miller continues his BB/9 trends, we may be looking at a poor man's Brandon Webb in the making. Miller's FIP on the season is a stellar 3.38, but the ERA, thanks to bad luck (64.8 LOB% vs a 72.3% league average) and the terrible defense of the Marlins infield (dan uggla, jorge cantu, emilio bonafacio and hanley ramirez), is a less appealing (but still serviceable) 4.17.

I'm on the Miller bandwagon right now and have currently cut my ties with Jonathan Sanchez (whose command issues burned my ratios bad for two months). I also tried out the Parra chip for a few starts in the early season and was burned bad enough to maintain an irrational hatred of him evermore (fuck his GB tendencies and high K rate).

Do you agree/disagree? Why?