Your 2006 Giants: The Wright Man for the #5 Starter

I could have done this earlier. I've written extensively on why I think Jamey Wright should be the 5th starter and with each successful outing that he has had in the spring, he pretty much pitched great, winning the position, as Hennessey has been so-so this spring and while Correia has done well too, Wright has been that much better plus has the "seasoned vet" status that Sabean appears to love so much, so I guess I can put up this post now.

Here are other posts on Wright:

  • http://biasedgiantsfanatic.blogspot.com/2006/01/giants-doing-wright-thing.html: covers most of the arguments I am making for Wright as #5 starter for the Giants in 2006, particularly his success on the road, how there were aberrations in 2005 that made his road stats look worse than usual, and the need to give Hennessey every chance to have a breakout year in 2007 because he proved to be so dominating but not in a consistent manner.
  • http://biasedgiantsfanatic.blogspot.com/2006/02/article-on-wright-in-chron_114092823767679317.html: has interesting comments on Wright from his former catcher in Colorado who happens to be our leading candidate for backup catcher this season.
  • http://biasedgiantsfanatic.blogspot.com/2006/03/rueter-retires-and-wright-speculation.html: speculation that Wright would be in line for long relief if he don't make starter, seems like that would be one too many relievers or that means only one of the three rookie relievers from last season will make this season, most probably Munter. But it looks like Correia is now up for this long relief role, which makes sense given how poorly Fassero did as a starter in 2005 plus the need to leave Hennessey alone in AAA to mature and learn to be consistently as dominating as he showed he could be in 2005, but would follow up with very poor outings.
  • http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/comments/2006/3/7/153944/0953/3: in addition I posted on McCovey Chronicles, which has become my blog home away from blog home, that when you look at Ron Shandler's PQS rating for Wright's starts in 2005, while he was a mediocre 30% DOM overall, when you looked only at his road games, it was a sterling 47% DOM with only 7% DIS, both very good rates from top of the rotation guys, not something you would expect out of a bottom of rotation guy.
  • http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/comments/2006/3/28/171936/410/4#4: I got my elevator speech on Wright down pat, this one repeats much of the first post, plus I threw in a new twist: since he is an extreme groundball pitcher, he should get more doubleplays probably. If you subtract his DP/GS from his BR/9 figure, oops, I should have used his DP/9 rate of 1.2 instead of the 0.8 DP/GS rate - I quoted a reduction to a 1.42 WHIP but it should have been reduced to 1.38, which is a good WHIP rate for a starter. Also, I noted that given his road numbers and potential at AT&T, he should do no worse than the various #5's we have trotted out over the past few years - Jensen, Foppert, Moss, Hennessey - while giving Hennessey a chance to concentrate on getting himself ready to take a rotation spot in 2007, because when he is going good, he is dominant, but unfortunately he was inconsistent the past two seasons, going from bad to great to back to bad in successive starts. We need to harnest his strengths and maximize his potential. As I noted in another thread above, 77% of all minor league starting pitching prospects fail when they come up without a full year of AAA pitching, whereas only 33% fail with a full year, or looking at it the other way, without a full year, only 16% do well, with a full year, 56% do well. Compelling numbers to just keep Hennessey in AAA in 2006 and get him ready for 2007.
2006 Wright

He has shown the stamina and ability to throw 180-200 IP in a season, which will be good for saving the bullpen, though he has not done it often, so I don't know if it was stamina/injury or just poor pitching that stopped him, though I've read that he has had an injury history (according to Baseball Prospectus' team health report, fee but most of it is readable for free). With a low 4 ERA lifetime on the road and potentially under 4 ERA pitching at AT&T Park in 2006, he may be able to get his overall ERA into the high 3's and perhaps better, depending on how much of an advantage he gets from pitching in AT&T Park. But at worse, he should be as good as any of the #5 starters we have had over the past few years.

He's not going to get a lot of strikeouts but it should be decent enough rate (5-6 K/9) and his walks will be horrendous, but he gets an extraordinary number of ground balls to fly balls, his GB rate is 10 percentage points better than Schmidt and he had a similar looking chart to what Matt Morris did his last four seasons, that should deliver a lot of double plays and force outs. His past DP/9 rate reduces his WHIP nicely into the 1.3 range, which is good for any pitcher, let alone #5 pitchers. Plus he keeps his H/9 down around 9 or one per inning, which helps a lot with his high W/9 rate. He seems like Rueter in that way, Kirk would rather walk you than give up a hit.

He could potentially pitch as well as Morris did last season on an overall basis, making Wright the new Kirk Rueter of the rotation: high walks, low strikeouts, somehow gets batters out enough times to keep the score close enough for the team to win eventually. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a W/L record like what Rueter used to put up for the Giants regularly. At worse, he will be an adequate #5 starter and won't harm the Giants playoff ambitions, though he won't help either if this occurs. At best, he could put up Rueter-like number of wins with horrible other stats, looking like he did it with mirrors. His sinker and groundballs will be the keys to his success or failure. I think most of the signs point to him succeeding and possibly doing very well for us in the starting rotation, assuming he can stay healthy.


Blogger allfrank said...

Wright is 30, is he not? I think Lefty Malo wonderedout loud if maybe, at 30, Wright will put it together, learn to pitch. I think it was also LM or someone on MCC who wondered if pitching for a good, and more veteran team, would give him more confidence, meaning he would throw more strikes.
Anyway, I thought it was an excellent pick up and I'm glad he's pitched well enough to win the # 5 spot. As you have observed, he's cheap, has a lot of p[otential to do well at ATT with a good team and could give us a few years of solid, if unremarkable, pitching.

Tue Mar 28, 07:38:00 PM PST  
Anonymous John R. said...

I'm skeptical. Wright has at no point in his career been good for any stretch (maybe 2004, but even that's borderline). If he can com in and give us like 5 innings of OK ball, I'll be fine with that, but I question his ability to perform to even these low standards, because he's never shown that he can be even average for any length of time.

Mays Field (yes, I've been fully affected by the movement) probably won't have as much effect as most might think. As an extreme groundballer, he isn't going to give up too many fly balls, and Mays Field helps fly ball guys more than anything (Livan, Tomko, Ortiz to name a few). If those ground balls find holes and some line drives start finding the spacious gaps, Mays Field could actually hurt him.

Tue Mar 28, 10:06:00 PM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

To Allfrank: and what more can you ask for out of a #5 starter.

To John R.: I guess you missed that post I linked to, but Wright was very good in 2005 all season long - on the road. Using Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster PQS system, Wright had 47% of his road starts be rated as a dominating start (their term for a quality start) and only 7% were disasters (their term for a disaster start :^). I ran through this on one of my posts on Morris, but only the top pitchers in baseball have a DOM of over 50%, plus he combined that with a low rate of bad starts.

Interesting points about ground balls and line drives. Hopefully the defense will cover those holes, but I don't think he has an abnormal number of line drives, relative to other pitchers. Plus, for his career in Mays Field, he has a 2.25 ERA or something (all numbers from memory).

Wed Mar 29, 12:12:00 AM PST  
Blogger allfrank said...

Martin, vis-a-vis the point about ground balls finding holes: I'm not familiar with Frandsen. Is there a chance they would bring him up for defensive purposes? I mena, I know he is expected to hit, but with Morris, Cain, and Wright aren't we going to be getting a lot of ground balls?

Wed Mar 29, 11:27:00 AM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

From what I have read, Frandsen is a grinder, i.e. someone who plays above his physical abilities, which is kind of like describing a blind date as intelligent. So he is probably OK defensively for a 2B.

According to Minor League Baseball Analyst, a book associated with Ron Shandler's organization, he "makes routine plays on defense with athleticism to improve."

But at 24, how much more is there to improve? I mean defensively. I don't see it jumping to great defense, it is more like a linear growth than an exponential growth, as you might with power hitting.

Not that I know how to rate prospects all that well, I'm still feeling my way around them. I just happen to read a lot about them.

The good news about ground balls and Morris, Cain, and Wright is that they are all RHP, so the balls should normally be going to Vizquel, who by most accounts is still good for his position, thought the defensive metric at Baseball Musing rated him much lower, can't remember if just above or just below average.

And the methodology is based on the concepts for this other defensive methodology that has been considered the best around, but the guy is now working for the Cardinals, so he's not updating his work anymore.

According to that methodology, Feliz, Niekro, and Winn are all considered to be above average fielders for their position, if I remember all those rankings right.

Wed Mar 29, 07:00:00 PM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Forgot about BP. They say he's "more than capable of playing second at higher levels," but believe that he won't field as well as Thompson did.

Don't know who or how they did the prospect highlights for BP, but Deric McKamey, who did the Minor League Baseball Analyst's comment, went through the official Major League Scouting Program plus he was a sabermetrician before that, so he brings a perspective from both worlds. Plus he notes that "as in any line of work, to be successful, an individual should have knowledge of all pertinent information," so he brings in a blend of the scouting and saber perspectives to his work.

I've only had this book less than a week, so I'm still judging it, but I still rave about Baseball Forecaster, if you haven't bought one but you are interested in understanding how to analyze players using stats a la Bill James, you must get one. I never understood all the stats and stuff in Baseball Prospectus, there's too much of the "don't pay attention to the man behind the screen" there for my tastes, but after reading Baseball Forecaster it made the light bulb go on, it is really neat stuff.

The only problem is that there is little new analysis each year (not a criticism but a fact), mainly because the book is targeted at fantasy players (if you play, it has lists galore, ranking players by position, plus giving you their standard draft list based on the various versions of fantasy baseball that is out there).

So, if you want to be cheap and not get the fantasy stuff, he normally sells past years at a steep discount, pick a past year (but probably not before 2003) that matches the price you are willing to pay and get that one. It will give you their Toolkit section where they explain a lot of their rules, concepts, and analysis, which is good enough to get you started, I found the 2005 one very useful, cannot vouch for 2004 as I didn't buy that, and 2003's, which I purchased this year, look like it was the start of important research, hence why I wouldn't go back further.

But there is new analysis that furthers their prior work in each new edition, but to pay $29 each year (through them, half off or so via Amazon, but if you get it from them, they give you additional statistical goodies, which is mainly useful for fantasy baseball) would seem like overkill if you don't do fantasy baseball.

I was planning on writing most of this in a post in April but since you got me talking I'll put this out now.

Wed Mar 29, 08:37:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Jeff Pearlman said...

Howdy. My name is Jeff Pearlman. I'm a former Sports Illustrated senior writer, as well as the author of an upcoming biography of Barry Bonds entitled, "Love Me, Hate Me." It's not a steroid book, per se, but a biography of his life and times. I interviewed 524 subjects for the book, ranging from his Cub Scout den leader and elementary school teachers to his former minor league and Pirates teammates to close friends, coaches, mentors, etc. I feel comfortable saying it's the most revealing portrait ever written on the man.

Anyhow, I was wondering if you'd consider letting readers know that:
A. The book is coming out April 18 and that I have a site, www.lovemehateme.net (it's going live next week; will have tons of photos, Giants trivia; insight; etc).
B. I will respond to any/all e-mails about the book/Bonds.baseball/etc at this e-mail address. I love feedback.

Uhm, guess that's it. I'd be happy to send y'all a review copy, and if you need a Q&A, interview, whatever, I'd be honored/thrilled.

Anyhow, thanks much. Great site.


Jeff Pearlman

PS: Hope it's OK with you if I link your site from mine.

Sat Apr 08, 09:36:00 PM PDT  

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