A look at free agent starting pitchers

The following is not going to be a comprehensive analysis of the best free agent starting pitchers. But I think it does provide some interesting information about them. Most importantly it will be short, not have too many numbers and might even by pithy.

The methodology here is very simple. I looked at the eleven best starting pitchers who are likely to be free agents this offseason. For each, I looked at their last four years WAR (averaging fWAR and rWAR). I weighted those four WAR's 8, 5, 4, 3 (most recent years get the higher weight, of course), as this is the weighting that Dan Szymborski uses for his ZiPS projections for players aged 24-38.

So basically this gives us a weighted average of the pitchers' WAR (as a reminder, 2 WAR is a roughly average, roughly #3 SP). It is not really an attempt at a projection because I did not apply an aging curve, I did not regress the data and I did not estimate playing time for 2013. The numbers below merely reflect what they've done. It does, to some extent, take injuries into account, because for many of the pitchers, injuries have limited their innings pitched, which of course affected their accumulated WAR.


2013 age



































A quick note about each pitcher:

Zack Greinke - What can you say? He's young and head and shoulders above the rest.

Hiroki Kuroda - He's not young, but he's been damned good over the last four years. A long-term deal is risky, but I have a feeling he's only interested in playing on the coasts.

Anibal Sanchez - Young for a free agent starting pitcher and he's been very good over the last three years. He had poor numbers four years ago due to starts missed from injury. But he's been healthy since.

Jake Peavy - He's a curious case. His 2012 numbers were great, but iffy before that and he dealt with injuries. Has he figured out how to be successful in the AL, or was 2012 a blip? Will he be healthy?

Ryan Dempster - Pretty consistently good over the last four years. But he's no youngster.

Edwin Jackson - Consistently good fWAR due to his very good FIP, but his rWAR has been a little shakier as he's gave up a fair number of runs in 2012 and 2010.

Dan Haren - His number above is dragged down by his injury-plagued 2012 season. His 2009-2011 numbers are spectacular, better than Greinke. So his value going forward is all about his back injury. If healthy, he's a clear ace. If not, he could be the next Roy Oswalt.

Shaun Marcum - He's been good when healthy. Very good numbers in 2010 and 2011. Poor numbers in 2009 and 2012 and that's because of injuries. The team that signs him will be the one that is willing to take on the most risk and trade guaranteed money for the high upside.

Kyle Lohse - Another odd case. Awful numbers in 2009 and 2010, largely due to injury. And then he turned things around the last two years. Will he stay healthy? How would he handle the AL? And of course his age is a concern.

Brandon McCarthy - See Marcum. Lots of talent, lots of injuries. His most recent injury and surgery is just another big question mark. Who knows when he'll be ready to pitch. And when he does, how will his shoulder hold up?

Jeremy Guthrie - Usually he's had consistently meh results. His average WAR over the last four years have been 1.45, 3.35, 1.80 and 1.15. So he's probably decent, but probably not average. And at that age, he's not getting better.

Like I said, this is far from the last word on how good these pitchers are. But the data is interesting and instructive. Clearly there are some gems and also red flags in this list. I think many of the weaknesses and question marks, along with the number of good pitchers on the market, are going to lead to some good values.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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