Key Stats: Since missing the 2009 season with Tommy John surgery Shaun Marcum has been ranked in the top 125 in the Yahoo player rater two years in a row. The greatest strength of Marcum statistically is his WHIP. Going back to the season before he had Tommy John surgery, Marcum has finished with a 1.16, 1.15, and 1.16 WHIP each of the last three seasons.
Skeptics Say: Marcum had one quality start in his last seven starts including the playoffs. In fact, he was probably the main reason that the Brewers did not advance to the World Series. In those starts he gave up 34 earned runs in 34 innings. It leaves a very bad taste in your mouth heading into this season.
Also, the WHIP was nice last year, but given how the power in baseball has shifted to pitchers in recent years, it wasn’t that great. Marcum’s WHIP was tied with two others for 22nd in all of baseball. Hardly elite.
Peer Comparison: There’s a huge gap between the CBS starting pitcher rankings and the ESPN starting pitcher rankings in the What They’re Saying section below. Here are three players that CBS ranks higher than Marcum that ESPN does not have: Max Scherzer, Brandon Beachy, and Adam Wainwright. I agree with CBS on all three counts.
Scherzer vs. Marcum: Marcum was the better pitcher last year in ERA and WHIP by a very large margin, but Scherzer was better in wins and strikeouts. Essentially that’s a push, but digging deeper the numbers favor Scherzer. Scherzer will not lose a hitter of the caliber of Fielder, so he should be able to sustain his win total. Scherzer actually had a better xFIP than Marcum last year which should change as the Tigers defense improves without Magglio Ordonez and with Victor Martinez playing catcher even less. Scherzer is also three years younger.
Beachy vs. Marcum: Marcum is the safer pick. Depending upon where a fantasy rotation is when they have the choice of Beachy or Marcum, you can make a case for taking either player. If they were the first two players thrown out in an auction, I’d put more on Beachy though. He struck out more than 3.5 more batters per 9 innings than Marcum and finished with an xFIP almost a full run lower. Sure, some of Beachy’s success could have been a fluke and a result of having a low profile as a rookie, but taking him after Marcum doesn’t make a sense in a vacuum.
Beachy vs. Wainwright: The upside of Wainwright is that he’s a top ten starting pitcher (he was the sixth best overall player in 2010). Marcum obviously doesn’t have that going for him. Look no further than Marcum (among others) to see if a player can come back from Tommy John surgery.
Team Outlook: In case you haven’t heard Prince Fielder is a free agent, and the chances of him resigning with the Brewers are lower than finding snow on the equator. Marcum has never won more than 13 in a season, and Fielder’s departure won’t help him up that total. Fielder was third in the NL in runs created last year. The Brewers can’t replace that with smaller parts.
Projection: Marcum’s WHIP will continue to be a safe number at age 30, but he’s not a top thirty starting pitcher.
12 wins 3.60 ERA 1.18 WHIP 159 K in 204 innings