The Giants won the World Championship, my thoughts can be found in Nirvana... Again, and Barry Zito was a huge part of that run to greatness. After being left off the roster in the 2010 World Series, Zito proved his mettle by throwing two dominating games against the Cardinals in the NLCS (7.2 IP, 0 ER) and the Tigers in the World Series (5.2 IP, 1 ER). This came on the heels of a season in which he won 15 games for the G-men. Is he back to being someone to target in mixed leagues?
Barry Zito won 12 games in 2010-11. He was also limited to 53.2 innings in 2011, the only time since his rookie season that he has failed to throw 180 innings in a campaign. Those facts, not to mention that he hadn't been a pitcher anyone could count on in the fantasy game since 2006, led to Zito being on the majority of waiver-wire's at the start of the 2012 season. However, he blazed it up out of the gates with a 1.67 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over his first four starts on his way to his most successful season as a Giants' hurler. I already noted that he won 15 games, more than noted names like Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Mat Latos and Jordan Zimmerman. Heck, he won as many games as Stephen Strasburg. Does that mean that Zito is back to being someone to think about on draft day? Not really (you didn't really think I was going to say something else, did you?).
For the fourth straight season Zito posted an ERA over 4.00. It shouldn't be a shock given that his poor work with the Giants has ballooned his ERA to 3.93 for his career, so that 4.15 mark from last season is right in line with what expectations should be. There's no reason to expect improvement here. This is just the type of pitcher that Zito is at this point of his career. It should also be noted that his xFIP of 4.92 was a 4-year high, and as we continue our look at Zito it will become obvious why that is.
The major league average for WHIP in 2012 was 1.31. Barry Zito had a 1.39 mark in 2012. Moreover, the last time he posted a mark as low as 1.31 was 2005. That's an awful long time ago to not even be average. There is no reason to think his performance will improve in 2013 in this category either.
Zito struck out 5.57 batters per nine innings in 2012, a full batter below his career 6.64 mark. The 6.64 mark is bad, about a batter below the league average (7.56 in 2012), and that 5.57 mark? You know that is horrible. Does Zito augment that low strikeout total with a strong walk rate? Hardly. His 3.42 per nine mark in 2012 was a 10 year best, and it was worse than the league average of 3.05 in 2012. The resulting 1.63 K/BB ratio of Zito was only slightly off the 1.79 mark he is saddled with for his career, and both marks are pathetically low. When you combine a terrible K mark, a bad BB mark and an average 1.02 GB/FB ratio, the results are usually an average effort. And that's what we got from Zito – we got an average pitcher who was fortunate in the win-loss column (Zito didn't lose any of his last 14 starts, including the playoffs with his last “L” coming on August 2nd). There is no way he'll be able to keep up that winning streak in 2013.
Give Barry Zito full kudos for coming through down the stretch an into the playoffs for the Giants. His outing against the Cardinals is cited by many around the teams as the turnaround that propelled the Giants to their second World Championship in three seasons. On the other side of that glorious finish is the fact that Barry Zito is about as boring a pitcher as there is in the fantasy game. Don't let the name or the finish fool you into thinking anything else. If you're in a 12 team mixed league in 2013 don't even bother thinking about Zito on draft day, and if you are in an NL-only league he's still nothing more than a late round roster filler because he eats up innings and has a chance at wins.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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