Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zach Britton vs. Alex Cobb

Nick wanted to know who would be a better pick-up in an A.L. only league, Zach Britton or Alex Cobb.

Zach Britton. 6-7, 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.91 xFIP, 104 1/3 IP, 9 HR, 64 K, 39 BB.
I kind of/sort of warned you that Britton's pretty, late May ERA wasn't sustainable, but I hardly expected Britton's numbers to crumble the way they did in June and July. A lot of that was because of a horrible start at Boston on July 8, but the bottom started falling out before that.

Britton is a poster child for ERA vs. xFIP, though; there's even a beautiful symmetry to his fall.

First nine starts: 59 IP, 33 K, 19 BB, 4 HR, 2.14 ERA, 3.95 xFIP
Last nine starts: 45 1/3 IP, 31 K, 17 BB, 5 HR, 6.55 ERA, 3.90 xFIP

Not much changed for Britton except the results on non-HR balls in play. He was very lucky in his first nine starts and very unlucky in his next nine.

I like Britton and think his profile speaks to improvement. The problems I have with him right now are: a) he's still learning in the super tough A.L. East and b) his defense behind him has been very poor. The xFIP might say that Britton is capable of putting up a 3.90 ERA, but it won't matter if his infield can't make the plays behind him.

Britton is scheduled to return from the minors on Saturday to face the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Alex Cobb 3-0, 2.57 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.95 xFIP, 42 IP, 1 HR, 24 K, 16 BB.
I wrote Cobb up fairly recently, so I'm not going write nearly as much about him as I wrote about Britton. It's interesting that I was asked to compare Cobb and Britton, because Cobb is where Britton was when Britton was outperforming his xFIP. Cobb is a solid pitcher (and better than I thought he'd be, I'll admit) but he isn't a sub-3 ERA guy. If I owned him, I'd worry a lot about regression. His defense is better than Britton's but the division is just as tough.

If I had to pick a pitcher for this year, I'd probably lean toward Cobb at the moment. In a keeper league, though, Britton wins for me hands down.

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