Jake Peavy has a secret buried deep within his 2008 performance. The secret isn’t easy to see, although that has to be true because it’s what defines a secret.
Sabermetricians are pretty good at finding this type of hidden knowledge. One method of finding truth and escaping prejudices in a player’s pitching ability is to use a statistic called tRA. This metric breaks the result of every plate appearance down to a level that allows us to accurately assign credit or blame to the pitcher.
Some of these plate appearance results tRA takes into account are line drives, fly balls, pop-ups, home runs, strikeouts, and walks. Again, the purpose here is to value as accurately as possible the influence on run prevention that pitchers have direct control over. tRA is park and league neutral, and set to the same Runs per 9 innings scale as ERA, a statistic that does poor job predicting future success compared to tRA.
This is a similar process to the FIP stat, though tRA incorporates more detail. Here is more information on tRA, along with some background from Dave Cameron about why ERA isn’t as great as you might think.
Ok, I promised a Jake Peavy secret, and you want one ASAP, am I right? Here you go:
|Jake Peavy’s tRA|
See that there? See the number that jumps out a little bit? Maybe a little jumping? Holy crap. I flipped a lid when I saw that 2008 number.
Seriously, don’t tell anyone. Call me paranoid and delusional, (ok, I’ll call myself paranoid and delusional) but it isn’t an accident this wasn’t posted until after the deals with Atlanta and Chicago fell through.
Though he probably employs more complex metrics than tRA, this information clearly corroborates why Sandy Alderson has held tight to his position that trading Jake is first and foremost a baseball move.
Of course Peavy’s unsightly tRA isn’t the only reason to make the trade. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, his age, the many needs within the organization, a poor chance the team will compete next year, and the injury risk of pitchers are all motivating factors.
When you couple this reasoning with the the Padres passing on trade opportunities with two teams, and at least one passable offer from the Braves, it makes me think that someone making the case that trading Jake is primarily about lowering payroll has a lot more explaining to do.
An ERA that seems likely an abberation, and the other reasons mentioned above mean that now is a good time to make the right deal for Jake Peavy. Unfortunately, neither the Cubs nor the Braves seem prepared to offer value the Padres prefer. Hopefully Jake’s hidden slump doesn’t manifest itself in a higher ERA come July next season.