Blog buddy, Josh Borenstein, usually feels much the same about all things baseball as this writer. But Josh took great exception to the piece featured here for disrespecting the White Sox pitching staff and team. While Josh is super high on the Fan's respect list, we'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Let's put some numbers behind the rationale.
According to PECOTA projections, the starting rotation of the White Sox is projected to have the highest value over replacement players (VORP) in the division. They project out to a VORP of 128.6 compared to 100.9 for the Twins and 114.9 for the Tigers. But while the Fan believes some of the White Sox pitchers are rated too highly (more on that later), some of the projections for the Tigers and Twins seem way too low. Kevin Slowey has been terrific this spring and the Fan believes he will come in higher than projection. Rick Porcello was rated very low (5) and he should come in much higher than that. If those two projections alone account for some closure between the numbers, consider the Twins' projected batting order (even with Nick Punto at third!) projects to 209.4 VORP compared to the White Sox' projection of 125.2.
The Fan also believes the White Sox projections are too high. Let's go through each member of the starting rotation:
Mark Buehrle: Despite his no hitter, Buehrle gives up a lot of hits. He's led the league in that category three of the last five years. Plus, his strikeout to walk ratio has dipped for two straight years. Add to that his BABIP which was .283 last year compare to his career number of .291 and Buehrle (which is darn hard to type by the way) should finish with an ERA over 4.00 and a record around .500.
John Danks: Danks regressed a bit last year compared to the year before. His ERA went up as did his walks per nine innings. His homers per nine innings doubled too. You can count on him to strike out seven guys per nine as he has been there consistently, but it's hard to predict his success in not walking people because his last three years show high/low/high. His BABIP was also low last year at .269 compared to his career mark of .291. All that being said, Danks will finish with an ERA of 4 or higher and he will be a .500 pitcher unless he brings his walks down dramatically.
Gavin Floyd: Floyd had a great season in 2008, his first year as a featured starting pitcher. But he fell to a .500 record last year with an ERA of 4.06. It's hard to figure though because his strikeouts per nine and his strikeout to walk ratio numbers were the best of his career. His WHIP and homers per nine were also the best of his career. So one would have to assume that Floyd was very unlucky last year (though his BABIP was dead on for his career average). All that being said, Floyd should fare close to his projections.
Freddie Garcia: Garcia has been a serviceable pitcher for most of his career. He's a veteran and he knows what he is doing. But he's also 35 and has missed major portions of the last three years. He is a gigantic "IF" in this Fan's book. At least he can't be any worse than Contreras...
Jake Peavy: Peavy is a stud, or at least he's been one. And that's the concern. Will he hold up? Was his brilliant 3-0 look-see last year an indicator of things to come or was that a function of hitters not being familiar with him? Time will tell. But Peavy has been a great pitcher and could be again. The Fan will go this far to meet Josh in the middle: If Peavy is Peavy and puts up prime Padres-like numbers, then the White Sox edge out the pitching staffs in the rest of the division. But they still won't hit enough to win the division.
Hey, at least the Fan came halfway, right?