When the Minnesota Twins signed Jason Marquis to a 1-year/$3 million dollar deal a lot of people said he was another Carl Pavano type. A pitcher who would throw a lot of innings, throw strikes (but infrequently strikes hitters out), and relies on the defense behind him to turn ground balls into outs. Over his last five seasons, dating back to the 2007 season, Jason Marquis has averaged 153 innings, posted an ERA of 4.55, and gave up just 3.4 walks per game. Basically, he’s been average. His value over those 5 years add up to just 3.5 WAR, with an ERA+ of 98. While he is not going to wow anyone with his stuff, Marquis adds consistency to the pitching staff, and allows the Twins to move Brian Duensing back to the bullpen where he can fill a bigger hole for the 2012 Twins.
Bill James does not project a rosy season for Marquis, penciling him in for just 118 innings. In addition to the decreased innings, James expects Marquis to have a lower K/9 and higher BB/9 rates while also increasing his HR/9 rate. When a pitcher’s k rate drops below 5, as James projects (4.96) his success has to be in his ability to limit walks and home runs. James projects Marquis to go the wrong way on all of those stats, yet he believes that hitters will hit just .276 against him with a .300 BABIP, both of which represent a slight improvement over 2011 numbers. James also projects a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 4.50, which is higher than the 4.42 James projects, meaning that Marquis will be helped by the the Twins’ improved infield defense, and the speed of the Twins’ outfielders Ben Revere and Denard Span. I think James does a good job projecting Marquis with the exception of the number of innings pitched. I have Marquis throwing 180 innings. He will benefit from a switch to the American League and should enjoy a great deal of success his first time through the lineups, allowing him to pitch deeper into games, accumulating extra innings each time out. He’s not going to suddenly start striking hitters out, so a K/9 rate of 5.0 is reasonable. I believe that his BB/9 rate will go down, as Marquis will have that improved defense behind him which will allow him to pitch more aggressively in the strike zone, keeping his walk totals down. Marquis’ career BB/9 rate is 3.5, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was all the way down to 3. Marquis will definitely take a hit from having to regularly face the DH for the first time in his career, and his ERA will likely increase in 2012 to something like 4.65. Pitching to those stats Marquis will be worth 2.4 WAR, good enough for more than $11 million dollars, far out pacing the $3 million dollars the Twins gave up for him.
Marquis will never be a front line starter again, but he will be a solid number 4 pitcher, eating up innings and holding his own as an average Major Leaguer. And remember, Twins Fans, every inning he pitches will be one less inning for a bullpen full of question marks.
Previous 2012 Projections can be found here.