Tuesday, January 19, 2010

J.A. Happ 2010

Quick quiz: how old do you think Phillies' breakout prospect J.A. Happ is? If you got the correct answer (27), you did a lot better than me. What kind of 'prospect' is 27 years old?!? I had assumed he was 22 or 23. A big deal was made over the Winter about whether the Phillies would trade Happ or keep him for 2010. Given that he's a 27 year old pitcher with one major league season under his belt, I'm not sure what the big deal was. If you look past the pretty 2.93 ERA, Happ was just ok in 2009, striking out 6.45 per nine innings and walking 3.04. His groundball rate was no help either at 38.4%. Happ is currently at #141 overall on Couchmanagers.com. The next three starting pitchers are Shields, Garza, and Baker. I'd rather take any of those guys than Happ.


Sean said...

He was a steady force and showed composure throughout the entire 2009 season. You also fail to mention that he started the season coming out of the bullpen, which clearly has an effect on the statistics you provided.

Also, I don't see why his age is a big deal; should prospective teams and fans be worried because he only has another potential 10-12 years of pitching in his future? There's a reason he was a top candidate in the ROTY honors and there's a reason that he is ranked above the guys you mentioned; he wins games, has versatility, and had a sub-3 ERA.

DrBGiantsfan said...

I would definitely draft any of Shields, Garza or Baker ahead of Happ.

Alex said...

Sean - 'Steady force', 'showed composure', and 'wins games' generally don't have a lot of predictive value for the future. K/9, BB/9, and groundball rate do. His age matters because while a young prospect would have plenty of time for further improvement, Happ probably already is what he will be...a pretty average major league pitcher. The fact that some of those numbers were in relief is a negative if anything...most pitchers can achieve higher strikeout rates as relievers than starters. I'd be shocked if he manages another sub-3 ERA this year, and think it's more likely to be above 4 than below it.

Sean said...

I agree that the intangibles I mentioned have little or no value in fantasy, and I realize that this is a fantasy baseball discussion. However, those who ranked him ahead of Shields, Garza, and Baker certainly have their reasons for doing so, and I would venture to say that one of them is because Happ wins games. Reality or fantasy, winning is valuable.

I disagree with his age being a factor. I can name you a dozen guys off the top of my head who were coached up at 27 years or older and improved (see: Pineiro, Joel for the most recent). Just because a guy takes a few extra years to get to the bigs doesn't mean that he cannot continue to develop when he gets there.

Finally, you went back on your post to Facebook, which is where I found this link. You said that Happ was overrated, yet here you say that he is what he is -- an average MLB pitcher. That was my point. He isn't overrated or underrated -- he's potentially a solid #3-type guy. He won't have as many Ks as the other guys you mentioned but he will have a comparable ERA (if not better) and will get have more Ws and less Ls.

Alex said...

Sean - I think many people consider him likely to be better than average...that's why I called him overrated. I also think the odds are against him having a better ERA or better W/L record than those other guys. I guess we'll know who was right in about 8 months.