How Does Aaron Cook Compare?

One of the Pirates two remaining needs is starting pitching. Today we hear that the Pirates are one of six teams interested in Aaron Cook. Cook is a right handed pitcher and has ties to Clint Hurdle which I think gives more weight to this rumor. Personally I am not a big fan of Cook and there are quite a few pitchers available, who are in the Pirates price range, that I would definitely take over him.

Looking at this from a pure statistical view point over the last 3 years Cook has produced the 11th highest WAR of all available free agent starters. Of the 10 in front of him six of them (Wilson, Jackson, Buehrle, Oswalt, Vazquez and Kuroda) are probably out of the Pirates price range. Even after eliminating those six from the discussion there are 9 pitchers available who I would take over Cook. They are Pineiro, Maholm, Hernandez, Marquis, Francis, Bedard, Harang, Capuano and Harden. I would also probably put him in the same category as Millwood, Penny and Garland but for now lets just focus on the 9 listed above and see how Cook compares. Below I will show how Cook compared to other nine last season, over the last 3 years and over the course of their careers. I am going to give Cook’s ranking out of 10, Cook’s number and the range these 10 players produced.

2011 Season

WAR: 8th, 1.0, 0.4 – 2.6

xFIP: 9th, 4.37, 3.56 – 4.38

K/9: 9th, 4.45, 3.83 – 9.91

BB/9: 10th, 3.43, 1.92 – 3.43

HR/9: 4th, 0.84, 0.61 – 1.85

GB%: 2nd, 55.1%, 31.5 – 55.1

IP: 9th, 97.0, 82.2 – 186.0

2009 – 2011 Season

WAR: 5th, 4.6, 1.7 – 8.5

xFIP: 8th, 4.33, 3.60 – 4.53

K/9: 10th, 4.42, 4.42 – 9.61

BB/9: 7th, 3.20, 1.74 – 4.56

HR/9: 5th, 0.92, 0.66 – 1.65

GB%: 1st, 56.8%, 35.0 – 56.8

IP: 4th, 444.2, 212.1 – 570.2

Career

xFIP: 7th, 4.40, 3.83 – 4.62

K/9: 10th, 3.83, 3.83 – 9.20

BB/9: 4th, 2.80, 2.50 – 4.09

HR/9: 1st, 0.76, 0.76 – 1.28

GB%: 1st, 57.4%, 38.2 – 57.4

IP/WAR*: 3rd , 62.1, 44.1 – 137.1

* Since WAR and IP are based on the number of seasons I thought it was better to compare how many innings it has taken each pitcher on average to accumulate 1 WAR.
To be honest I don’t care too much about career numbers. I am more interested in the last 3 seasons with an emphasis on the most recent one. Basically what these numbers show is that the one thing Cook did well last season was keep the ball on the ground. Considering the Pirates infield defense is likely to include at least two below average defensive players (Walker and Alvarez) keeping the ball on the ground is not necessary a good thing. All things considered though I prefer a ground ball pitcher over a fly ball pitcher though. Cook has posted a respectable WAR over the last 3 seasons but it needs pointed out that the number has been dropping each of the last 3 years. Taking a close look at these numbers I see a mediocre pitcher who is on the decline. To be fair Harang and Pineiro fit the same mold but I think those two have more upside than Cook plus I have those two near the bottom of my 9 man list.

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