Joba Chamberlain 2009 v. Phil Hughes 2010

When people talk about Joba Chamberlain’s 2009, they view it as a total failure. When people talk about Phil Hughes’ 2010, they view it as a success. But were their seasons that different from one another? I want to focus on that to look towards 2011.

In 2009 Joba made 31 starts and threw 157 innings. His line was:

4.75 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 4.56 xFIP, 7.61 K/9, 4.35 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9, 42.9 GB%, 35.8 FB%.

In 2010, Phil has made 29 starts and thrown 176 innings. His line is:

4.19 ERA, 4.26 FIP, 4.33 xFIP, 7.45 K/9, 2.96 BB/9, 1.28 HR/9, 36.1 GB%, 47.4 FB%.

Relatively similar if you ask me.

Both had similar K rates and HR rates. What separates them is the walk. Joba had poor control, while Phil limited his walks for the most of the season. People lambasted Joba in 2009, but he did finish with an average xFIP which is not too much worse than Phil’s in 2010.

What I want to focus on though is the GB and FB rates of the two pitchers. Joba is not an extreme GB pitcher, but he can induce his fair share of GB. Meanwhile, Phil is a big-time FB pitcher. That is NOT good for Yankee Stadium. The reason he has a high HR/9 is because of the amount of FB he allows- which is troublesome since NYS is a home run park in right field.

Moreover, in 2009 Joba was coming off an arm injury. His velocity was way down and the result was a shitty fastball. I fully believe that was to blame for his poor HR and BB numbers. But Joba has recovered his velocity in 2010 and the result is clear in his numbers. He is striking more guys out, allowing less homers, and walking less batters. Sure, numbers are always better out of the pen. But he is healthy. I fully believe that if he got another chance to start, we’d see numbers more reminiscent of his 2008 season rather than his 2009 season.

Joba does not give up HR. His career HR/9 is 0.82. Going year by year it’s been: 0.38, 0.45, 1.20, and 0.64. In 2009 Joba gave up more FB than he usually does and was torched through home runs. But we have enough data on him to say he does a good job keeping the ball in the park.

In 2011, Joba Chamberlain should start. Why? Well, his 2009 was not that much worse than Phil Hughes. He induced more grounders, and had a better K/9 and HR/9. The one difference was BB. However, Joba had a terrible HR season that season. He’s proven that he can limit HR allowed. On the other hand, it’s quite clear Phil is what he is when it comes to FB and HR. He can be an effective pitcher, but he will never be a complete ace who can constrain the long ball. Adding Joba to the rotation would give the Yankees a strikeout pitcher who keeps the ball in the ballpark. I believe he can still be better than Phil Hughes. When looking to add a potential SP this off-season, New York should look inwards to Joba Chamberlain.

I was hoping to make this a better, more analytical piece, but time is short for me. The gist is clear enough.

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2 Comments on “Joba Chamberlain 2009 v. Phil Hughes 2010”

  1. AMusingFool Says:

    Is 195.2 innings really enough to conclude that homers aren’t an issue?

    • Disco Says:

      Thanks for the reply!

      In those 195, there has been some difference.

      We know in 2009 his FB was horrible, and something tells me it is somewhat related to velocity drop/arm problems of 2009.

      Before 2009 he was healthy and this season he has been healthy. His velocity is better (out of the pen, I know, but its better enough that if he was starting it would be better than 2009). His FB is better.

      I believe he gave up so many HR because his FB simply was not good. Now that he has it back again as a plus pitch, the ball isn’t being hit as hard. Thus less HR.

      With Phil, he’s always had high fly ball rates, so I see him continuing to struggle with the long ball until proven otherwise.

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