Thrown For a Looper

Despite the front office saying that the Brewers were done adding pieces for 2009, the longer Braden Looper went unsigned, the more I felt like the Brewers would eventually sign him. It made too much sense for both sides to not get it done. While Looper is not a front-of-the-rotation starter, he does bring a nice arm to the team and increases the depth, which had been perilously thin. When trying to explain his value to a co-worker who felt Looper was just another guy earlier today, I discovered a stat that I think helps explain why he will be important to the team in 2009:

Only 28 MLB starters threw more innings (199) and had a better ERA (4.16) than Looper last year.

He’s an innings eater and he’s not too bad at limiting runs either. If you look at that stat at face value, it would appear Looper is a number two starter type. That said, I don’t expect Looper to repeat those 2008 numbers and I am wary that he won’t be working with pitching coach savant Dave Duncan anymore, but he should continue to wrack up innings, put up decent numbers and be a reliable back-of-the-rotation arm. And if the Brewers get that production for around $5 million, that’s a good deal in my eyes.

Here is what the projection systems think he’ll do in ‘09:

MARCEL — 4.42 ERA, 166 innings

ZiPS — 10-12, 4.53 ERA, 167 innings

Bill James — 11-10, 4.03 ERA, 187 innings

CHONE — 7-8, 4.85 ERA, 130 innings

AVERAGE — 9-10, 4.46 ERA, 163 innings

In an earlier post, Jack figured Looper’s WAR at 1.81 if he can pitch 160 innings with his value coming in at $8.77 million. Seth McClung’s WAR is only .31 as a starter, according to another post by Jack. If my math is correct and the projections hold true, the Brewers picked up 1.5 wins with the signing. And that’s not even figuring in McClung’s value in the bullpen over whoever he ends up replacing.

I’ll wait to see the financial figures before I applaud Doug Melvin, but it’s hard to not like this move and what it did to help solidify a thin rotation.

2 Responses to “Thrown For a Looper”

  1. Jack Says:

    Actually, that was saying he’s worth .31 WAR as a reliever, which I’m not even sure is actually correct. The thing to look at with McClung is that you’re not getting solid numbers on him as just a starter or just a reliever, and the tendency with ERA is that generally, the transition from starter to reliever takes away about one run from ERA (so a 4.50 SP is basically a 3.50 RP) and vice-versa. However, with McClung’s numbers being so mixed up, I don’t really have a good beat on him either way. I could see him being a 3.75 ERA RP or a 4.75 SP, and I think that at this point having 160 or so innings of Looper (and possibly more) at around 4.60* ERA combined with like something like 70 or 80 IP of McClung at 3.75 ERA is certainly better than what we had, though. I’ll go into it a little bit more in depth tomorrow.

    *Don’t ever look at Bill James projections. They’re terrible and always too optimistic for almost every single player.

  2. Fred Says:

    To Jack: all projections are crude. The only reason that they are called accurate is because they define the term for themselves. Even then the formulas don’t have much to work with in Looper because he is a converted reliever. He’s another junkballer like Suppan and Bush. The real question is whether paying him and Suppan mean that possible better performing alternatives won’t get a shot when one gets abused repeatedly.

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