Castigated the world over as the worst free agent signing since Kevin Brown or Mike Hampton, the Giants’ Barry Zito will never be able to live up to his $126 million deal. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw Zito into the garbage bin like some mere bit of refuse. OK, I’m a Giants fan so I’m a bit biased, but in this case there clearly is support for the contention that Zito really hasn’t been as bad as you think he has been this season. In fact, since the All-Star break, is it possible that Zito has been the best Giants starter, better than Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain? Let’s take a look at the three hurlers performances since the break.
Lincecum: 2-2, 2.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in 57.2 IP
Cain: 2-2. 2.53 ERA, 0.96 WHIP in 53.1 IP
Zito: 3-2, 2.36 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 42 IP
Granted there is a lot more to look at with a pitcher than the few numbers I tossed out there, but the point is clearly made; Zito has pitched as well as the Giants “aces” since the All-Star break, a fact that appears to have been lost on almost everyone in the game. I mean a 2.36 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP is some serious pitching folks, and though we are only talking about seven starts, Zito has been better in those seven appearances than Cain has been this season (2.43 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). Looking for some more data? How about this.
Over the past 30 days —
Zito has a 2.51 ERA, the 10th best mark in baseball and better than guys like Jon Lester (2.70), Johan Santana (3.19) and CC Sabathia (3.35).
Zito has a 3.43 K/BB ratio better than guys like Lincecum (3.29) and Zack Greinke (3.27).
Zito has a 1.12 WHIP better than Gavin Floyd (1.18), John Lackey (1.24) and Tommy Hanson (1.24) to name a few.
Obviously, Zito is trending in the right direction and doing so with resounding vigor.
Should you be surprised by this? Well yes, if you are one of the thousands who castigate the Giants and Zito on a daily basis because of the fact that he can burn dollar bills in the fireplace for the rest of his life and never run out of money. Still, history shows us that Mr. Zito is usually a much better pitcher in the second half after the All-Star break. Here are the career numbers.
Pre Break: 58-66, 4.23 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 1.65 K/BB
Post Break: 73-38, 3.42 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 1.91 K/BB
Moreover, Zito has posted the best number of his career in August with a 2.96 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 58 games and his career record in September is 24-12.
Does all of this mean that Zito is better than Cain or Lincecum? What you think, I dropped some acid this morning before writing this piece? The point is that Zito has been really, really good of late and that his career record supports the position that he may indeed be a valuable fantasy part the rest of the way. Give the guy a break, it’s not like you would turn down $126 million if someone offered it to you, so don’t wish the guy ill simply because he was smart enough to sign the outrageous deal. Look at the numbers – they say that Zito should be rostered in mixed leagues and counted on for the rest of 2009.
By Ray Flowers