Joe Blanton had a renaissance of sorts in 2009, though it’s impossible for me to say that he was “impressive”. He was solid, but is that enough to make him relevant to fantasy owners? Before we answer that we have to take a closer look at his results.
It was his first full year in the National League, leading to his third best ERA of his five-year career:
163 Strikeouts (7.51 K/9)
59 Walks (2.72 B/99)
The strikeouts are the first number that leaps out at me, as it was his career high. Just look at his K/9 for his first four full seasons:
- 2005 – 5.19
- 2006 – 4.96
- 2007 – 5.48
- 2008 – 5.05
Granted, a move to the NL should generate an increase in strikeouts thanks to the weaker lineups and the pitcher hitting, but that significant of a jump? I just don’t see it. This is a pitcher who had struck out more than seven in a game just once prior to 2009, yet managed to put up games of 9, 10 and 11 last season.
It’s just not possible. He’s not some spring chicken who is just trying to make a name for himself. He is 29-years old. The idea of him being able to maintain this type of rate is just not feasible in my mind, given what he has already proven.
He also benefited from an above average strand rate, which was at 78.9%. That placed him ninth in the league, after posting marks of 68.9%, 68.0% and 68.4% the prior three seasons. Again, given his track record, why should we believe that he can maintain this rate?
He’s always allowed a lot of hits, with a career batting average against of .271 (last season he was at .264). That’s just not going to suddenly change. Neither is his walk rate, which is solid, but not elite.
So, let me get this straight. You have:
- A pitcher who is going to give up his fair share of hits
- A pitcher who is going to limit the walks, but by no means is an elite control artist
- A pitcher whose strikeout rate is likely to fall, meaning that he’s going to have to depend on luck to keep his WHIP where it was
That sounds like a perfect package, doesn’t it? The moral of the story is that his WHIP is likely to take a big hit, and it was just average, at best, last season.
You couple an increased WHIP with a decreased strand rate? That just has disaster written all over it.
He was much better in the second half, which also says a lot to me:
- First Half – 4.44 ERA over 103.1 innings
- Second Half – 3.62 ERA over 92.0 innings
In fact, he was bad in September, posting a 4.91 ERA. That means he had a stellar July and August, but that’s about it. Given his track record, is that enough to hang your hat on?
Before I give my ultimate answer, let’s look at my 2010 projection:
195.0 IP, 10 W, 4.20 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 125 K (5.77 K/9), 61 BB (2.82 BB/9)
Obviously, he’s a pitcher I have no interest in, even playing for one of the best team’s in the NL. He plays in a bandbox (1.38 HR/9), has little chance of repeating his strikeout rate and really could take a hit in the ERA and WHIP departments.
He also has proven the type of pitcher he is, meaning that he has no real upside. Why would I want to select him in the late rounds instead of a young pitcher who could excel? I’ll pass outside of the deepest formats or NL-only leagues considering I should be able to find a similar option on the waiver wire.
What about you? Would you ever consider drafting Blanton? How do you see him performing in 2010?
If you would like to see a free preview of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (available for just $5) now including a Top 50 Prospects for 2010 List, click here.
For some 2010 projections, click here. Among those we’ve already covered include: