Wang doesn’t strike anyone out and depends on the ridiculous number of groundballs he’s able to create being turned into outs. This is not a reliable strategy that will produce consistent results over a career. It is working in the short term, but as Bill James as pointed out in the past, no pitcher with a K/9 below the league average has gone on to have a meaningful career. He’s in no way in the same class as someone like Beckett and is most definitely not an ace. Unless he develops a legit strikeout pitch there will always be the risk that the groundballs get through and he’ll have bad starts. He can’t be counted on in the playoffs.
So, the 417.1 innings Wang has pitched the last two seasons are a short-term mirage. His going 38-13 is a sign of not having a reliable strategy. But the 5.2 poor innings he had in the playoffs, those are a sign that he can’t be counted on.
I think I got my first Bill James report in 1988 and I just received his 2008 Handbook in the mail. His approach is endlessly fascinating. But when the statheads like my anonymous friend leave no room for humanity is where they lose me.
Wang has made only 80 starts in his career, most with two pitches. I’ve stood there and watched him work on other pitches in the bullpen. I’ve talked to him at length about it. He knows people sit on his sinker. Did you know that his slider was his best pitch in college but the Yankees had him dump it when he had shoulder issues? Now he’s healthy and he’s working on it again. He also is doing a lot of work on a changeup.
This guy shows up every five days, he pitches deep into games and he has handled almost every big-game assignment with aplomb. Why people insist on running him down remains a mystery to me.
A few of my Taiwanese friends have told me that the blog is getting some play in Taiwan tonight. So hello to you guys and thanks for reading.