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Just The Sports: MLB Trade Round-Up Addition

Just The Sports

Sunday, August 08, 2010

MLB Trade Round-Up Addition

In an oversight that I hope to correct now, I neglected to mention another major league player for whom a team traded for and from whom the team will receive less production than might be hoped for from the franchise's front office. When the New York Yankees acquired Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians, they did so to replace Chan Ho Park in the bullpen and shore up their relief pitching. Instead, the Yankees simply traded one mediocre relief pitcher for another.

One could even make the case that the Yankees actually received an inferior pitcher at the trade deadline. Before the trade was finalized, Chan Ho Park had pitched twenty-seven games for the Yankees and Kerry Wood twenty-three for the Indians. In those games, Park posted a 2.42 strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB), superior to Wood's own 1.64 K/BB ratio. Woods has really struggled with walking players in 2010, walking 4.95 hitters per nine innings. For a relief pitcher, such a walk rate is much too high.

The two pitchers were fairly similar in terms of wOBA so there is no real advantage there; Park allowed hitters a .361 wOBA and hitters who faced Wood have a .355 wOBA. Those statistics indicate facing either pitcher made players into above average hitters since an average wOBA is around .335.

Where there was another advantage for Park was in terms of fielding-independent ERA (FIP) and expected fielding-independent ERA (xFIP). Fielding-independent ERA helps you understand how good a pitcher pitched regardless of the defense behind him and expected fielding-independent ERA does the same while normalizing a pitcher's home run rates so pitchers who have been unlucky in the number of home runs given up are not penalized unduly. Expected fielding-independent ERA is one of the best pitching metrics to use to determine a pitcher's future ERA.

Once again demonstrating how closely matched the pitchers' seasons have been, Park's FIP was 5.14 with the Yankees while Wood's was 5.20 with the Indians. However, Park's xFIP of 4.34 was much lower than Wood's xFIP of 5.03. Therefore, we could expect that Park will end the season with better overall numbers than Wood.

The reason why there is more of a difference between Park's xFIP and his FIP is that he had been very unlucky with giving up home runs. There was no reason to believe his home run per fly ball ratio will stay at 15.2%, which is much higher than league average. When Park's home run to fly ball ratio does come down, he will become almost a full run better on the mound.

On the other hand, Wood's home run per fly ball ratio of 11.5% is much closer to league average so the rate at which he has given up home runs is much less likely to change. The same goes for the number of runs he gives up.

With Kerry Wood, the Yankees have not made their bullpen any better since he, like Park before him, cannot be trusted to pitch high leverage innings. The Yankees would best be served using Wood in games whether they either have a sizable lead or a sizable deficit. Otherwise, his propensity to transform every hitter into an above average one would only lead to the Yankees losing games.



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