Sunday, February 24, 2013

Coming to grips with antipathy for Jered Weaver

I need to deal with this intense dislike I have for Jered Weaver. I have not had this kind of dislike for a player since the earlier days of Chipper of the Braves and before that, Yaz of the Red Sox. The latter two I came to appreciate as--in the end--their body of work was worthy of respect and admiration. But I'm not there yet with Weaver and it is time to deal with it because he is one of the better pitchers of his generation.

Why do I dislike Weaver so intensely? Is there ever really a rhyme or reason for such feelings? It just is. Oh, I can say it is because of the way his temper boils over from time to time and has created scenes of anarchy. But I loved Clemens and he did that too. I can say it is his body language that seems to flip the bird at the world with everything he does. But so did Pedro when he was on the mound and I liked him. Maybe he suffers from memories of his brother, Jeff, who still fills my mind with nightmares.

No, there is no rational reason for hating Jered Weaver. It's just a thing that exists and looks for justification. It does not allow for a rational discourse of his pitching ability and performances. I cannot write about him fairly or with any kind of objectivity. How can I pull that off when I simply hate the guy?

But then there is his record. Since he began his career as a starter with the Angels in 2006, he has won 66.2 percent of his starts. His career ERA of 3.24 has been under 3.00 in each of the last two seasons. Those two seasons saw him go 38-13. Those are clearly some really impressive numbers.

And the way those numbers have been accumulated have been nearly as impressive. He is not a fireballing pitcher with a 95 MPH heater. He is not a ground ball savant. In fact, his ground ball to fly ball ratio of 0.70 for his career is among the lowest of his peers. And yet, only eight percent of those fly balls go over the fence and the last two seasons, his BABIPs have been insane at .250 and .241 respectively. In fact, his BABIP against has been an astounding .270 for his career. So clearly he induces a lot of useless contact.

Weaver's WHIP the last three seasons have been 1.074, 1.010 and 1.018 respectively. That is pretty darned impressive. He has improved his walk rate to only 2.1 per nine innings the last two seasons and his career strikeout to walk ratio is 3.17. All of those numbers are terrific.

Weaver has made at least 30 starts for five straight seasons, making him extremely durable despite being slight of stature with a violent throwing motion. He has earned respect for the way he has pitched no matter how much I dislike the guy.

Putting all feelings aside, there is a bit of a concern at how long he can stay as effective as he has been. His velocity has dipped a mile per hour in each of his last two seasons. You would think that violent, all-or-nothing pitching motion would catch up to him eventually. His long-term contract with the Angels seemed questionable at the time and still does due to these concerns.

But what will be will be and for right now, Jered Weaver has been a premier pitcher since he arrived on the scene for the Angels. His record speaks for itself. I acknowledge that I cannot get over my dislike for the guy. But at least admitting to how good he is will exonerate me just a little bit.


Brian T. said...

I understand where you are coming from. However, I love Jered Weaver as an Angels fan but I cannot stand Justin Verlander. Every time he takes the mound I want nothing more than for him to get shelled and yet, I have no real understanding for why I dislike him so much. I guess it all comes down to the person and the way he "looks" or "acts" on the mound rather than the actual numbers. If I were to write a similar story, I would have to plagerize pretty much all of the information and just replace Jered with Justin. Good work and really has me thinking about why I am so anti Verlander.

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...

Great comments, Brian. I hear where you are coming from. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Personalities. Sometimes they just rub you the wrong way. Bryce Harper is my Weaver. But I still respect what he did last year. I guess we can dislike the player from the perspective of personality yet respect what they achieve as ball players.