Fantasy Baseball 2014: What to Make of Jered Weaver
To cut right to the chase, Jered Weaver is a guy I’m avoiding in all of my fantasy baseball drafts in 2014. After posting back-to-back dominant seasons between 2010-11, Weaver’s skills have declined over each of the past two seasons and there are enough warning signs to scare me away from snagging the pitcher in any format.
The most significant red flag regarding Weaver is his now two-year decline in fastball velocity. These were Weaver’s average fastball velocities from when he entered the league in 2006 through the 2011 season (all numbers represent miles per hour): 90.2, 88.8, 89.9, 88.9, 89.9, 89.1. His average fastball velocity in 2012 dropped to 87.8 and it took an even bigger step down in 2013, all the way to 86.5.
The results of Weaver’s decreased velocity are pretty apparent, and they certainly aren’t good. Weaver’s strikeout per nine rate has fallen from 7.56 (just above his career average) in 2011 to 6.82 in 2013, and when batters did make contact, they drove the ball with greater success than ever before. Weaver’s line drive rate from 2010-13 (all numbers are percentages): 15.8, 18.9, 21.1, 22.4. Weaver is striking fewer people out than ever before and batters are making harder contact than they ever have before — not a good combination. Weaver has had an xFIP over four in each of the last two seasons, and his ERA has been trending north. I would be shocked if that trend didn’t continue in 2014.
I have Jered Weaver ranked as my 43rd starting pitcher entering 2014 (behind guys like Andrew Cashner, Patrick Corbin and John Lackey), and I have him projected to win 12 games, record a 3.81 ERA, 146 strikeouts and a 1.21 WHIP. So far in 2014, Weaver is being drafted as the 29th starting pitcher (according to www.fantasypros.com, they compile average draft positions from five major fantasy baseball sites), and that is way too high for me.
Avoid Weaver at all costs in 2014. In fact, if you’re shrewd, I’d suggest talking him up to the rest of your league, as he’s a pretty big name and I’m sure there are plenty of fantasy owners out there who are ready to waste a 9th or 10th round pick on him.