Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Joe Blanton Paradox

Here's a question. Why did anyone ever have a high opinion of Joe Blanton? In researching his stats for this article it really struck me that he has never been very good yet people all seem to remember a time when Joe Blanton was an above average pitcher but no one can quite pinpoint when it was. Here was Blanton's best season ever in 2007 with the A's:

IP
ERA
FIP
xFIP
k/9
bb/9
hr/9
230
3.95
3.5
3.93
5.48
1.57
0.63

This is the definition of an above average season. He had an ERA just under 4 and pitched a ton of innings. He didn't strike out a lot of guys but also didn't walk too many. Now let's look at his career numbers:

IP (avg per season)
ERA
FIP
xFIP
k/9
bb/9
hr/9
144.5
4.33
4.17
4.23
5.92
2.44
1.03

Here we see a pitcher who is generally below average. He doesn't strike out many batters, he walks a decent amount, gives up about a home run a game and tends to not pitch full seasons due to injury. Joe Blanton is currently filling the exact role he is meant to fill, back end of the rotation guy. So where then, does the myth of the once good Blanton come from? I have a few theories:

1 ) He had the one good season. Anyone who follows baseball can tell you that a pitcher can pretty much make a career out of having one good season, just ask Ollie Perez.
2 ) He accrues a lot of wins. While the value of pitcher wins is debatable it is certainly looked on highly by many folks. Blanton has 77 career wins including 16 in his best year in 06 and a lowest of 9 in his worst year. Racking up W's is a sure fire to make yourself look good.
3 ) He won a world series. The 2008 Phillies were a pretty highly regarded team and he had multiple playoff wins with them.
4 ) He was an A. The A's are a good pitching team and people seem to love pitchers who come out of the A's system. Some continue their greatness, some flop but they all usually end up getting good deals coming out of Oakland. The mystique of Moneyball has done wonders for departing A's contracts.
5 ) He had a lot of media speculation. Have you ever noticed that in every off  season a slightly above average pitcher gets a lot of hype because all the other good pitchers already have deals? This year it was John Danks, MLB network talked about who might sign John Danks for like two weeks this year because they had nothing else to talk about. 2 years ago it was Carl Pavano. After 2007 it was Joe Blanton. Once the Mets acquired Johan we were treated to like three weeks of who might trade for Blanton and what Blanton could do for team X. I think these things stick with people and they tend to help inflate their value.

All of his is a long way of saying that I think the Mets are going to light up Blanton tonight. I will be in attendance and sitting behind the Sillies dugout, heckling them mercilessly.

3 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Blanton seems like a mediocre RHP and that should favor the METS in this game.

    Who sits out of Baxter, Nieuwenhuis, Torres and Duda?

    Also, this post reminded me of a funny FJM piece .

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  3. It's a tough call. This early in the season I struggle between putting the best team on the field based on right now stats and getting players AB's so they can improve in the long run. I'd sit Torres at this point. He is playing pretty bad and means the least to long term Met success.

    Side note, I miss FJM.

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