Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Barry Zito 2009

I read somewhere that in the Bill James 2009 projections, Barry Zito is being forecasted to have an ERA of 3.94. My initial thought was that this is such an optimistic prediction that Bill must be lobbying for a job as Barry's agent. Zito hasn't had a FIP or xFIP below 4 in the past five years. He's a flyball pitcher, who never had a great strikeout rate or control, and his K/BB rate has been getting steadily worse for the past five years. In 2008, he struck out 5.7 batters per nine innings, while walking 4.8 batters per nine innings. That's pretty awful, and you neeed to have groundball rate around 55% to be at all effective with those kind of statistics. So is there any possible way that Zito could achieve a 3.94 ERA in 2009? Probably not, but it's possible. While Zito has had a steadily declining K/9 and increasing BB/9, the trend has been gradual. It's not completely inconceivable that his actual skills haven't changed during this time, and that the trend has been something of an illusion. If he reverts to his ratios of 2004 (K/9: 6.9, BB/9: 3.4), he would have a shot at 3.94 playing in a good pitchers' park. I certainly wouldn't bet on it though!

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