Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Should Fans Want Colon?

"You know you want me."

I was reading the chat at the LoHud Yankees blog earlier today, and a question came in about the Yankees bringing back Freddy Garcia over Bartolo Colon. Well, it wasn't so much a question, as the person was clearly just looking to complain at what he thought was yet another poor decision by Yankee management. On the surface it seems as though this person was right, as Colon currently has an ERA of 2.62, while Garcia has a brutal 9.75 ERA. But this wasn't about which guy has been better so far in this young season, this was about the decision the Yankees made in the offseason. So did they indeed get it wrong?

Let's look beyond the fact that we're dealing with smalls sample sizes here. Bartolo Colon has started five games so far this season, three of them being against the Seattle Mariners, and the other two against the LA Angels and Chicago White Sox. I'd like to point out that those three teams are 11th, 10th, and 8th, respectively, in runs scored in 2012. The Mariners have the 2nd lowest team OPS in the American League (.636), while the Angels are directly ahead of them hitting a team OPS of .680. The White Sox are 9th in team OPS in the AL. Colon's start against the White Sox looks good as far as IP and earned runs (7 IP, giving up only 2 ER), however he did have more walks than strikeouts, and gave up 2 home runs. That 2.62 ERA so far in 2012 looks good, but looking deeper it's not so impressive.

That's not to say Freddy Garcia has been so much better than his 9.75 ERA looks. Freddy's worst outing, easily, was against the Red Sox last Saturday night, in which he gave up 7 hits and 5 ER in only 1.2 innings of work. At least that was against the team with the third highest OPS in the AL (.825). Trust me, that's still far from "okay".  But the point I'm trying to make here is that Bartolo Colon is not so much better that people are correct in being up in arms over the fact Brian Cashman brought Freddy back instead.

I'll take this a bit further, and show you why bringing back Garcia instead of Colon was the right choice.

Between 2008 and 2010 Bartolo Colon had started only 19 games, a total of 101.1 innings, which includes missing the entire 2010 season while having surgery on his throwing shoulder. Freddy Garcia wasn't the Tony Little of MLB during that time either, as he'd made only 40 starts, totaling 228 innings. But that did include a full season in 2010. So each player's health record over the previous four seasons says Freddy was the better bet to even make it through an entire season in the rotation.

People like to point out Bartolo's great start to the 1st half of the 2011 season, where he was impressing people with a 2-seam fastball that moved around like Gumby on the dance floor. But it's not as if Garcia was having a poor 1st half himself. Colon's ERA in the first half of 2011 was 3.20, while Freddy's was 3.13. But just like haters of the Montero/Pineda trade point at the 2nd halves of each player, I'd like to point out the 2nd halves that Bartolo and Freddy had.

I'm not saying Freddy had a great 2nd half, as he did allow the opposition a batting average of .283, with a .767 OPS. But Colon was worse, as he allowed opposing teams to post a batting average of .298, with an OPS of .827. In fact, outside of a 24 point bump in teams' batting average against him, Garcia saw very little change in his OBP and SLG against. Colon, though, gave up 58 more points in batting average, 52 more points in OBP, and 93 more points in SLG. Colon clearly had the worse 2nd half.

Getting back to what each pitcher has done so far this season I looked closer at their stats, and saw that Bartolo Colon has a BABIP against of .229. That's incredibly small, especially when you see that his career BABIP against is .295. The scariest part of that is the fact team's are still hitting 18% line drives against Colon, which lines up with his career mark of 20% (it was actually 17% last season). So I fully expect Colon to go from being very effective to being fairly ineffective soon.

Getting to Freddy Garcia, his BABIP against is an extremely high .419, which is 3rd highest in MLB (note to Fantasy Baseball owners... Tim Lincecum's is the 2nd highest at .421). Meanwhile his LD% is at 26%, which is quite a bit higher than his career number of 20% (it was 22% last year). Meaning there's some reason to be optimistic about Garcia's ability to turn things around a bit. Maybe this is part of the reason Freddy will not be skipped on Saturday.

So how exactly did the Yankees bring back the wrong guy? Could this be another case of some Yankee fans showing no patience, and just looking for somebody to bitch and complain at? I think so.

1 comment:

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)