Rotoprofessor’s Five Late Round Options for WHIP

Mar 11, 2009

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

WHIP is a category that is tough to draft for to begin with.  Once the true aces are off the board, the middle tier pitchers threaten of mediocrity.  Felix Hernandez posted a 1.39 last season.  Daisuke Matsuzaka had a 1.32.  Edinson Volquez had a 1.33.  All usable, but far from elite.

So, if you are in need of help in the WHIP department late in your draft, where do you turn?  Let’s take a look at five potential options who could not only not hurt you, but have the potential to help.

Scott Baker – Minnesota Twins
To be able to get someone of Baker’s potential this late in the draft is really surprising to me.  Last season he posted a WHIP of 1.18 over 172.1 innings, a tremendous sign of just how good he could be.  He walked just 2.19 batters per 9 innings last season, and unbelievably that was his worst number since making his debut in 2005:

  • 2005 – BB/9 = 2.35 over 53.2 IP
  • 2006 – BB/9 = 1.73 over 83.1 IP
  • 2007 – BB/9 = 1.82 over 143.2 IP

The reason for his WHIP being inflated prior to 2008 was the hits, as he posted BABIP’s of .359 and .327, respectively, in ‘06 & ‘07.  Can we expect him to match the .290 he posted last season or his minuscule WHIP?  Probably not, as I’ve already mentioned when I discussed my trade for him a few weeks back.

Still, with the control he has a WHIP under 1.30 is a given and considering what he did last season, there’s a chance to be among the elite here.  That makes him a must draft in my eyes, especially if you are in need of some WHIP help.

Jered Weaver – Los Angeles Angels
It wasn’t long ago that fantasy owners were lusting for Weaver, especially after the splash he made in 2006 (11-2, 2.56 ERA, 1.03 WHIP).  Unfortunately he followed that up with a sub par 2007, posting a WHIP of 1.39.  That certainly helped to steer owners away from him and still haunts him a bit, despite having been able to right the ship last season (1.28 WHIP, despite a 4.33 ERA).

He has extremely good control, as you can see by his BB/9 since his debut:

  • 2006 – 2.41
  • 2007 – 2.52
  • 2008 – 2.75

That goes a long way to allowing a pitcher to post a very good WHIP.  Granted, his low number in 2006 came with a BABIP of .246, a number that we can never expect him to repeat.  His 2008 number was at .306, which he certainly could match in 2009, if not even better a bit.  If he does that, as well stop the upward trend of his walks, he has the ability to significantly help you here.  It’s no guarantee, but he seems like a great gamble late in your draft.

Koji Uehara – Baltimore Orioles
I could have also included Kenshin Kawakami, but Uehara had the better numbers in Japan so he got the nod.  His strength comes in his control, having walked just 206 batters over 1,549 innings, good for a BB/9 of 1.20.  As a comparison, the best pitcher in the majors last season was Cliff Lee, who posted a BB/9 of 1.37.

Uehara’s career WHIP in Japan was a 1.01, an amazing number.  Of course, moving into the AL East, where he will routinely be facing the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays, is a good deterrent for fantasy owners.  While he may throw strikes and avoid giving batters free passes, it is a lot more likely that he is going to get hit pitching in that division.

He’s a real wild card and given where he will be calling home, I would only recommend grabbing him you are pretty desperate.

David Purcey – Toronto Blue Jays
How could someone who posted a WHIP of 1.48 over 65 major league innings last season be considered here?  Just look at his 1.12 number at Triple A, and you’ll know why.

Purcey struggled with his control in his first two spot starts with the team, walking 11 batters in just 7.1 innings (he posted a BB/9 of 2.62 at Triple A).  After he was recalled for good in July, he made 10 starts never walking more then 3 batters, much more indicative of the skills that earned him the rotation spot.  That certainly should go a long way in helping him correct a number that is certainly an eye sore for owners looking to take the gamble on him.

He’s got a ton of strikeout potential, which I’m just throwing out there since it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.  It’s just as likely that he posts a WHIP of 1.40 as it is of him posting a 1.25.  Last round, maybe, otherwise snatch him off the waiver wire if he gets off to a good start

Anthony Reyes – Cleveland Indians
We all know the story of Anthony Reyes, being freed from the shackles of St. Louis and quickly resurrecting his career in Cleveland, where he posted a WHIP of 1.25 (and an ERA of 1.83, though that’s a different story all together).  While he may have other problems, he has a career minor league WHIP of 1.11, showing you right off the bat that he has the ability to significantly help your team.

He’s posted a career BB/9 in the major leagues of 3.4, over a walk per 9 innings more then he had during his minor league stints (2.2).  That certainly one of the reasons his WHIP has not been all that impressive (1.34 for his career).  He’s also given up more hits, though considering that he’s facing the best talent in the world, that’s to be expected.  If he can get the walks back in order, he’ll have the opportunity to post a very good WHIP once again, making him worth watching.

Are there any other pitchers who can potentially help in WHIP that you are targeting late in your draft?  Let’s hear them!

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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