How Good Is Jered Weaver?

By MJ Lloyd

Jered Weaver is the Angels ace. He finished second is the AL Cy Young in 2011 and fifth in 2010. The baseball world is aware that he’s a pretty good pitcher. Weaver arguably left $50 million or more on the table to sign an extension with his hometown Halos. In fact, considering his laid back personality, he might not even know that there are awards handed out after the season for best pitcher. But, unfortunately for him, he pitches in the same league as Justin Verlander, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez. So how good is Jered Weaver?

If he doesn’t win the AL Cy Young this year, he’s going to finish second again. Weaver’s 3.9 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement is 7th in the AL and way behind Verlander’s baseball leading 5.3 WAR. Of course, Weaver’s DL stint gave Verlander a 30+ innings pitched cushion. But, the old school BBWAA voters are going to love Weaver’s shiny 15-1 record. If Weaver finishes, say, 22-2 with a 2.30 ERA (2.13 currently), Verlander might not repeat despite having a technically more valuable season.

Weaver is obviously recognized as one of the top pitchers in baseball so I’m not calling him underrated. He is a bit of a curious case. Weaver gets points deducted for his pitcher friendly home park (and Seattle and Oakland don’t kill him either) and a pretty good defense behind him. Frankly, I’m surprised there haven’t been criminal charges filed against Mike Trout yet. But aside from 2008, Weaver’s ERA has outperformed his FIP (fielding independent pitching) and xFIP (expected fielding independent pitching).

He might not throw 95 mph (or 90) and is a bit of a fly ball pitcher but it works him. Weaver’s walk rates, along with his strikeout rates, have fallen each of the past three years. So what does all of this mean and how good is Jered Weaver? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. I realize that was pretty anti climatic so I’ll say he’s really good. Fine, I’ll put it in context. Here are the pitchers with a 28.0+ WAR since Weaver entered the majors in 2006…

That’s good company.

I was a little surprised to that Weaver is tied in WAR with King Felix and a shade over 4 wins below Verlander despite having thrown under 200 fewer innings over that time period. Weaver is good. Really good. I’m not ready to knight him the next Greg Maddux but I’m not ruling it out either.