Finding a Middle Ground: Joba Chamberlain

 Feb, 01 - 2010   no comments   Uncategorized
Previously, I found the “middle ground” of projections for Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson, and Brett Gardner. Now, I think it’s time that I did the same for a pitcher. I’ll be using the same process that I did for the hitters: averaging out the projections on the FanGraphs page–CHONE, Marcel, Bill James, and the Fans–and seeing where we end up. This afternoon, I’ll be looking at Joba Chamberlain. – See more at:

This year, we’ll finally see Chamberlain without much (if any) of a harness. He pitched over 150 innings in 2009, and even if he had a limit in 2010, it likely wouldn’t matter. Chamberlain is going to be the fifth starter and the chances that he gets to 180 are pretty slim. Anyway, let’s look at what we’ll be able to expect from Joba this year.

153.5 IP, 154 H, 70 ER, 17 HR, 66 BB, 152 SO, 4.10 ERA, 1.4332 WHIP, 8.81 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 2.3 K/BB, 3.95 FIP.

That’s the average projection for Chamberlain’s 2010 and I would definitely take that. The WHIP is still a little high, but I think it’s being thrown off by the Fan projection of 175 hits in 159 innings. Is it just me or does that seem like a strange projection? Regardless of that, if Chamberlain can pitch to a 4.10 ERA an a 3.95 FIP as the number five starter, the Yankees will most definitely be in good shape.

Some may see this projection and think “So? That’s not very good. This guy’s supposed to be an ace, right?” To those people I say this: be patient. In general, one does not simply become an ace after one full season of starting. Yeah, sure, Tim Lincecum did it, but he’s the big exception, not the rule. In 2010, Chamberlain will finally be un-tinkered around with for the first time in his professional career. The days of his innings limits are over. He won’t be relieving. He won’t be doing anything on the mound, except starting games.

With all young players and pitchers, there is a growing process that needs to take place, and it usually takes several seasons. Perhaps with Chamberlain, we forgot this. The way he rose through the minor league system in 2007 and the way he pitched in 2008 made us lose our heads. Those events made us think this guy was already polished and totally ready to step into the ace’s shoes. We were wrong. However, that doesn’t mean we need to give up on this guy just because he struggled in his first go around as a full-time starter.

There are many out there, both in the mainstream media and the Yankee blogosphere who would have us believe that 2009 was a negative for Chamberlain and that it proves he cannot be a big-time starter in the major leagues. As of right now, they are wrong. Last year was a success for Chamberlain because he stayed healthy and finally amassed a good number of innings. Those two things were the things the “Joba Rules” were designed to give Chamberlain in 2009. Some assumed that because of those rules, Chamberlain would have instant success.

No, the “Joba Rules” were not designed to guarantee results. They were designed to attempt to guarantee health and longevity and, if nothing else, the Yankees got those two things from Chamberlain in 2009. Along with those tangible things, Chamberlain was also allowed to “learn on the job,” so to speak, and mature against Major League pitching. That experience, along with the innings he pitched, will invariably help him as he moves forward in 2010.

Joba’s development is moving along, but is not done yet. I still believe that Joba Chamberlain has the talent and skill to become a front line starter. As of right now, he is on the path to “acehood”; now, all he needs to do is walk down that road.

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