Wednesday, March 26, 2014

End of an Error - Joe Blanton's Inevitable Release

I normally don't like to use Baseball Reference too much before writing an article and I really don't like throwing stats at you like I can actually explain to you what they mean.  Don't get me wrong, I love the advanced metrics and what they can mean to people who know how to interpret them, but I'm not one of those people.  If I knew how to calculate and judge stats like PPFp and WAAadj, I'd probably have higher paying job than I do right now.  However, you don't need a masters in statistics to understand the following stats:

Career .489 Winning Percentage (don't start with me on how wins and losses don't accurately portray a pitchers value.  I understand they aren't very important, but a sub-.500 winning percentage over almost 250 career starts is still a telling number)
Career 4.51 Earned Run Average (League average is about 4.20 in the same time frame)
1719 Hits surrendered in 1567 Career Innings Pitched

This isn't a good pitcher.  This is hardly an average pitcher.  And yet, this is the same guy the Angels gave $15 Million over two years in the winter of 2012 to be an above average pitcher on a supposed championship contender.

He ended up 2-14 with a 6+ ERA and gave up a run in at least half the innings he pitched last season (96 runs in 180 innings).

People will say "oh but his xFIP and FIP are still decent, he might have something left in the tank".

That's great, but there were times last season where a five game winning streak would have been literally impossible with how poorly Blanton was pitching.  You would see Blanton on the Probable Pitchers list and just not watch the game on TV or go to the park that day, knowing you'd just end up miserable.  Yes, these stats can tell us a lot about players that the naked eye can't see, but trying to draw ANYTHING positive about Blanton's performance last year is a fools errand.

Am I sad to see him go?  Of course not, I want to see this team succeed.  Do I feel bad for the guy?  Still no.  First, he is going to make $8.5 Million this year either sitting at home or coming out of the bullpen for some other team.  Second, he had a really crappy attitude in the clubhouse last year, which probably didn't help the pitching staff as a whole.  Here's a fun quote from after one of his TWO wins last season:

After his only win, on May 23 at Kansas City, Blanton, a nine-year veteran who signed a two-year, $15-million deal in December, seemed oblivious to the possibility of being demoted to the bullpen if he didn't turn his season around. 

"I've been doing this for a long time," he said. "Why should I feel urgency now?" 

Asked later if his next start would be a crucial one, Blanton said, "I don't have anything to prove."

Yeah... see you later, buddy.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

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