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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Week 11 Update: Nick Blackburn is Actually "Good"


I was reading an article at Sportsfrog.com a little while ago... it demanded that I trade Nick Blackburn.  Bronto, the author, suggests:
"Blackburn has benefited from a better-than average BABIP, which stood at .278 before today’s game compared to last season’s .308 BABIP. And he’s walking more hitters too. After walking just 39 last year, Blackburn has walked 25 people this season after walking just 39 in 2008."
Yes, this is all 100% accurate.  However, with this all know, do we think anyone would be willing to deal anything for Blackburn and if so, what?  Personally, I don't think you're going to pull the wool over anyone's eyes if you're in a competitive league.  Blackburn is what he is: a nice option in mixed-leagues and a really, really good option in AL-Only leagues.

...and though everything Bronto said was accurate, I'm not ready to sell on Blackburn yet.  I look at his GB-rate and think there may be something more here.  The Twins have historically preached speed and defense to their position players.  This is blatantly obvious in the fact that the Twins lead baseball with only 24 Errors allows all year!  It's mind-boggling, but it's true.  With that all said, why not take a chance on a kid who's decreasing his HR/FB rate and pitching to a better-than-50% GB rate?

My point is that Blackburn's BABIP is so low because his GB Rate is so steady and his HR/FB is severely decreased from what it was last year.  As Brian Pietrzak suggests in his "Inside Nick Blackburn's last five starts," Blackburn's reputation is a bit misleading:
"Blackburn has garnered a reputation as a "fly-ball pitcher," especially from Twins' announcers Bert Blyleven and Dick Bremer. However, Blackburn's ground ball to fly ball ratio is 1.21 through his first 13 starts of 2009. As a contrast, Carlos Silva was often considered by many, including Blyleven and Bremer, to be a "sinkerball pitcher" who induced many ground balls. In his final season as a Twin in 2007, Silva had a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 1.41."
In the end, it comes down to whether or not YOU like Blackburn.  You can find all the stats in the world to support either side as Bronto and Pietrzak deliver above.  For me, I say stick with him.  Let him ride your bench next week and throw him in for two-starts in Week 13.  Unless the Twins trade their top-flight defenders, I'd expect more of the same.

2 comments:

Ian H. said...

Can you believe that up until a few days ago, Blackburn was actually available in my 14 team league? I immediately picked him up and already he has a win.

Thanks for the advice, Brian!

bfadds said...

Can you believe he was available in my 12-team H2H about an hour before I published, haha.

It's just interesting to note the wide range of opinion about the guy. He's only a sophomore pitcher. I just don't think it's a large enough sample size to base some of these facts off of.