Once upon a time Chien-Ming Wang was viewed as a viable fantasy option. While just how good of an option he was is certainly debatable, back-to-back 19 win seasons clearly had fantasy owner’s attention.
That, however, already feels like a lifetime ago. In the four years that have followed Wang has made a total 38 appearances (thanks to injuries) and has shown a few of the same trends that he did back in 2006 & 2007, when he was in his hey day:
- He can generate a significant number of groundballs
- His control is pretty good
- His strikeout potential is virtually nil
It’s the latter that really needs to be discussed, because it is the aspect of his game that virtually robs him of any potential. In 2006 & 2007, when he was “good” he posted strikeout rates of 3.14 and 4.70. There’s not being an elite strikeout pitcher, then there’s someone like Wang who virtually destroys your team due to it.
Last season, despite his move to the National League, he posted a K/9 of 3.61 (25 K over 62.1 IP). Those who want to believe that he is going to take a big step forward after missing all of 2010 due to injury is sorely mistaken. It’s not that he’s never been a good strikeout pitcher, he is just an awful strikeout option. Period.
That means there is going to be a significant number of balls put in play. On the ground or through the air, does anyone believe the Nationals’ defense is going to be elite in 2012? They were average in 2011, with 104 errors and 145 double plays turned. A pitcher like Wang needs more than an average defense backing him up if he is really going to thrive.
You also have the control aspect to take into account. In 2011 he posted a 1.88 BB/9 which would be great, if we could believe it. For his career he posted a 2.58 BB/9, yet after missing an entire season we are to believe that he can outperform that number by so much? Expect more free passes in 2012, which is just going to mean more base runners.
As it is, back in the day he posted WHIPs of 1.31 and 1.29. It’s extremely easy to imagine a number much less attractive to that, isn’t it?
Of course, more base runners could easily mean more runs against as well…
And the whole thing starts to snow ball from there. The moral of the story? It’s nice to think back to Wang’s time with the Yankees and him winning 38 games in two years. It’s easy to take that and envision him regaining fantasy appeal…
However, I ask you if there is really any appeal? The lack of strikeouts alone nearly does him in, but the potential in the other numbers is almost just as concerning. If everything goes right he’ll likely have an ERA of 3.75 or more. If everything doesn’t go in his favor? The numbers could get ugly. His name may bring him attention, but Wang is a player to avoid in all formats.
What are your thoughts of Wang? Do you think he will have any value in 2012? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2012 rankings: