Joe Blanton or Joe Saunders: Who would you rather have?

Photo credit: Ezra Shaw / Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Free agency is an exciting time in baseball. Everyone is anticipating the next big move. Not everyone is going to sign a stud though, so signing the cheap guys can be very important. Here we'll take a look at two of those.

Now, I originally got this idea while chatting with Lee Trocinski, the editor over at Tomahawk Take on the Fansided Network.

A couple of weeks ago MLB Trade Rumors put up an article and a poll about Joe Blanton and John Saunders. The post concluded with a poll that asked the readers if they would rather have Joe Blanton or John Saunders. To say the least the results surprised me. Last I checked, Saunders had over 75% of the vote with over 6,000 votes. At the end of this article I will also make a poll as well, but first I will make my case for who I'd select.

The case for Joe Blanton

Now Joe Blanton is not a great pitcher by any means, but he's still someone who can eat a lot of innings at the back end of your rotation. He doesn't strike many guys out, limits walks, and tops out at 89-90 MPH. After a season where he failed to post above 1 fWAR, Blanton bounced back in 2012 and produce 2.4 fWAR. So essentially in one season he went from almost replacement level all the way to above average. It's possible that Blanton does better next season, depending on where he ends up.

ERA

FIP

xFIP

4.71 3.91

3.39

Yes Blanton's 4.71 ERA was high this year, but if we look at his peripherals and look to next season we can see that he may have a chance for some impressive improvement. The difference in his ERA and FIP was -.80, but for the most part throughout his career Blanton's ERA has always been higher than his FIP. In fact, his career E-F is -.21.

Blanton did manage to post a 4.2 BB%, a mark that he also posted in 2007, but it isn't out of the question that he sees that increase next season. After sitting between 64-66% the past two seasons his f-strike% dropped down to 61%. During those two seasons his BB% was around 5-5.5%, which was the lowest since that 2007 season.His contact% also dropped below 80% for the first time in his career.

I could see a team like the Padres signing Blanton, especially since Petco is such a huge pitcher's park. Lee thought Blanton could get a deal around 2 years and $12 million, and I thought he could see something around 1 year and $7 million. Either way if he produced over 2 WAR in either scenario he'd earn his contract.

What about Joe Saunders?

In some ways Joe Saunders is the complete opposite though. For his career his FIP is actually higher than his ERA, the difference is +.41.

ERA

FIP

xFIP

4.07 4.08 4.25

This past season what you saw is essentially what you got with Saunders. The difference between his ERA and FIP was -.01, virtually identical. One thing that we should remain skeptical going forward when it comes to Saunders is his 5.2 BB%. His career average is 7.2%, so a 2% drop is somewhat surprising. Going forward is it something sustainable? Let's find out.

Year

O-Swing%

O-Contact%

Contact%

F-Strike%

2011 29.20% 76.10% 86% 60.60%
2012 28.80% 72.70% 85.50% 56.80%

In 2012 batters were swinging at balls outside of the strikezone less, and when they were they got less contact. Saunders also saw his f-strike% also decrease by almost 4%. These stats alone make it seem unlikely that Saunders repeats the low walk percentage next season. While lefties are always nice to have, he's a lefty that can barely touch 90 and strikes out batters even less than Blanton does. Saunders has a 13.4 K% for his career, compared to Blanton's 16% K%. Saunders did post 2.5 fWAR, but his peripherals don't bode well going forward.

I could still see Saunders getting 1 year and around $6-7 million, but I could also see him getting a similar 2 year deal for $12 million. Team wise I could see Baltimore bringing him back.

So Beyond the Box Score readers, who do you pick? Personally I would probably sign Blanton, mainly do to his lower peripherals. I just think he has the better potential as we head into next season.

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter

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