The Yankees locked up Brian Bruney today ($1.25 million), as he was their last arbitration-eligible player. Based on last year’s numbers, Bruney would seem like the best option in the 8th. He posted a superb ERA of 1.83 in 34.1 IP. He walked 16 and struck out 33. But, using my new best friend, it appears as though those numbers are likely to regress in 2009.
Analyzing his 2008 numbers, we see Bruney’s FIP was actually 3.45 (think of it numerically as an ERA with defense and other factors outside of the pitcher’s control, eliminated). Basically, Bruney’s Mariano-like ERA should have been closer to that number. For instance, Bruney’s career ERA is 4.34 and his career FIP is 4.59. Despite a poor defensive team, Bruney’s numbers were helped a bit by luck, defense, etc. This is just one aspect of Bruney’s numbers that foretells a significant regression in 2009.
His BABIP forecasts a similar future.
Bruney’s BABIP (BA on balls put in play) in 2008 was .200. His career BABIP is .290 (with 2008 factored in). Most pitchers, I believe, feature a BABIP closer to .300 and Bruney is no different. Even Mariano Rivera’s BABIP in 2008 was higher than Bruney’s (.232 with a .277 career). Again, we see here that Bruney has been messing around with Lady Luck. It’s always been apparent though, since he walks so many people. Expect his 2009 BABIP to be a lot higher which would then mean that his ERA and WHIP will also be higher. Bill James’ ’09 projections for Bruney are in congruence with this theory:
4.50 ERA, 4.63 FIP, 1.56 WHIP, 52 IP
Yup, looks like a sensible regression/projection to me. CHONE also notes a regression—4.11 ERA, 4.29 FIP, 1.50 WHIP—although it’s a more optimistic line. In the end, I think we’ll see a battle to be the bridge in 2009. Edwar, Veras, Bruney (I think he’ll lose, despite his live arm) and Mark Melancon could make it very interesting.