Monday, January 4, 2010
Matt Cain 2010: Overrated?
If there's one pitcher I'm not likely to end up with any of my teams in 2010, it's Matt Cain. He drastically outperformed his xFIP last year, putting up an exceptional 2.89 earned run average, and winning fourteen games. This is a pitcher with very average peripheral stats: 7.07 K/9, 3.02 BB/9, 38.9% groundball rate. Unless those numbers improve, I would expect an earned run average around 4. Meanwhile, he's being picked in mock drafts shortly after studs like Josh Beckett and Jon Lester. He does have a couple of things going for him. He's only 25 years old, despite being around forever. That means that real improvement is still fairly likely. And he's now substantially outperformed his xFIP for three straight years. Over the short term, xFIP is a far better predictor of ERA than ERA itself is. However, the longer the time period, the better a predictor ERA becomes, as it includes some of the more subtle skills that aren't reflected in xFIP. That said, I still don't see Cain as being worth a pick anywhere near where he's going in most drafts.