Dispelling The “Positives” Of Ben Sheets

Ben Sheets is a pitcher that, when healthy, has the ability to be a fantasy stud…  Or does he, especially in 2010?  Sheets is a pitcher that has an allure surrounding him but much of it is just not accurate, especially in the strikeout department.

Many people want you to believe that Sheets has the potential to be an electric strikeout artist.  They rank him like he is going to be among the league leaders, one of the elite.  Why?

Just look at his strikeout rates in the two years prior to missing the 2009 season:

  • 2007 – 6.75 K/9 in 141.1 innings
  • 2008 – 7.17 K/9 in 198.1 innings

Granted, back in 2006 he posted a K/9 of 9.85, but in only 106 innings.  The only other time he was above his ’08 mark was in 2005, when he posted an 8.10 mark in 156.2 innings.

Now, he moves to the AL where he no longer has the pitcher to capitalize on.  He no longer has weaker hitters at the bottom of the order that he can feast on.  Coming back from missing a year, we are supposed to expect him to be an above average strikeout pitcher?  I think not.

What Sheets has been is a tremendous control pitcher.  He has a career BB/9 of 1.97 (though he was above that in both ’08 & ’09 with marks of 2.36 & 2.13, respectively), but, after missing a season, can we expect him to be able to maintain that level?

It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?  Even if he regresses just half a walk per nine innings, it’s going to have a major impact, but it wouldn’t surprise me if things were even worse than that.  That means a pitcher who’s WHIP was his strong suite (career 1.20) is just going to be ordinary there.

Does he have a big-time potential to win a lot of games?  Pitching in Oakland doesn’t give him the most upside, but you also have to wonder how many innings they are going to allow him to throw, especially early on.  If they are going to limit him to five or six innings that is going to put a lot of pressure on the bullpen to keep things locked down.

As far as those who believe that since Billy Beane was willing to sign him, he must be healthy and primed to make an impact, that’s something else I’m just not buying.  In recent seasons we’ve seen Beane invest heavily in a few veterans in an attempt to supplement his young core and many of them have fallen flat:

  • Mike Piazza (2007) – .275, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 33 R in 309 AB
  • Mike Sweeney (2008) – .286, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 14 R in 126 AB
  • Nomar Garciaparra (2009) – .281, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 17 R in 160 AB
  • Jason Giambi (2009) – .193, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 39 R in 269 AB

I know there were some injuries involved there, but still, let’s not act like everything Beane touches turns to gold.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect Beane.  He certainly is extremely good at what he does, but he’s not perfect.  Don’t take the stance that because Beane wanted him he has to be ready, because it’s just not true.

Making his triumphant return to the Major Leagues, there are some people who want to believe he’s going to step back onto the diamond and immediately be an ace pitcher again.  I’d have my reservations.  If I’m going to draft him, it’s going to be as a late draft flyer and that’s it.  I just can’t go into 2010 expecting him to be a significant portion of my team, but what about you?

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  1. BJP says:

    I like him if he’s being nabbed towards the end of a draft. If you want an injury-prone pitcher with K potential and upside, Rich Harden’s your man (even though he’s in the AL now).

  2. MDS says:

    Ben Sheets ADP 254. he’ll be an above average pitcher
    piazza, sweeney, garciaparra, giambi have nothing to do with him. that argument is pretty lame. former juicers going to a pitchers park. hello? mcfly!

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    MDS, I’m not making a direct comparison of Sheets to the others. They absolutely had their flaws. The point is, don’t take the stance of “Billy Beane wanted him so he must be good”.

    BJP, I agree with you 100%. If I’m taking the flyer on an injury risk pitcher, Harden is my guy.

  4. I’d be shocked if he were an above average pitcher. You can have him Biff.

  5. Keith says:

    Sure, Friday I tell Jimmy I have Sheets and I’m trying to move him and today this comes out. Coincidence? I think not. (Joking)

  6. MDS says:

    i think the luster wore off the beane a long time ago
    i projected him at 7.1 k/9, 1.25 whip n 3.95 era
    he’ll benefit from oaklands foul territory and speedy OF
    i havent seen anyone talking him up like you insinuate

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