Lance Lynn inks new deal.

Well, as usual, it takes a disagreement to get me to write something. Not a heated disagreement, but I don’t necessarily like hashing these long discussions out on Twitter because it’s very quick and lots of people can jump in very quickly, and also because 140 characters aren’t enough for someone like me that routinely has 2000 words or more to say on a subject.

It was announced today that Lance Lynn has signed a deal for 3 years and $22 million. I am very, very weary of the deal. I have not been a fan of Lance Lynn in the past, and I have been pretty vocal about it. Until the second half of his 2014 season, I didn’t think he was really worth much at all. Many people talk about his wins, but if you want me to talk about how little wins mean, then I will, but let’s just assume that I think wins don’t account for much.

Many people put alot of value on his innings, and I do like a guy who can get innings as much as the next guy, but I’d take quality innings over non-quality innings. There was his near-4 ERA. I guess I can’t technically call it a 4 ERA, but 3.97 is about as close as you can get. If you were to ask Fangraphs, a 4.00 ERA is “average”. I’d say it sorta depends on what you’re looking at, but Lynn’s 3.97 in 2013 was 58th of 79 qualified pitchers. That’s not exactly right in the middle.

The reason I note quality innings was because of something I wrote back on May 14th, 2014. When I was talking about Lynn, I said: “Since 2012, if you look at everybody who has pitched in a Cardinal uniform, and you eliminate the guys who have less than 5 starts (Carpenter 3, Gast 3, Martinez 1), then Lynn has the third lowest percentage of quality starts. Lyons is 5/12 (41.7%), Miller is 17/40 (42.5%) and Lynn is 39/71 (54.9%). That said, Lynn is really close to a few others, notably Kelly (55.9%), Westbrook (55.3%), and Garcia (55.2%).” Other than Miller, who the Cardinals did trade, all of the other guys are persona-non-grata among most of the Cardinals fans.

Then, he had a good 3-4 months, and I appreciated that. I just don’t know if you can stake a whole 3 year contract on what essentially was one great year at best, and I do think that they overpaid him somewhat significantly.

Last year, two notable pitchers in their first year of arbitration (just like Lynn was this year) both signed long term contracts to buy out their arbitration years. Madison Bumgarner signed a deal for 5 years – $35 million and Chris Sale got a deal for 5 years – $32.5 million. Those are close to the average yearly value as Lynn’s deal, but both are lower, and if you look at the pitchers named, Lynn is by far the worst of the bunch. I think a good deal for Lynn would have been about $15 million. $4 mil for 2015, $5 for 2016, and $6 for 2017. You could maybe add $1-2 million to that, but anything over $18 million ($4-$6-$8) is more than I would have paid.

Mo knows what he’s doing, and he’s been great, so I’m not questioning the deal, only the amount. If Lynn can keep up what he was doing for the last few months, it’ll turn out to be a good deal. If he reverts back, not so much. I’m not sold that his 2014 is going to be how good he is going forward. It may turn out that it is or it may turn out that 2014 was his best year and he’ll never hit that again in his career. That’s the risk inherent in any contract, but we’ll just have to monitor the progress going forward.

If you want other peoples’ perspectives on it, you can check Bill Ivie’s on I70 and (this was written before the contract actually came out as he missed it by a day) Bob Netherton’s view on On the Outside Corner.


  1. Marilyn Green

    Why are you referring to Lynn’s 2013 ERA and not his 2014 ERA, which was 2.74? Moreover, why is ERA important at all? ERA is defense dependent anyway, so stats like FIP are more indicative of true talent. Lynn has a career FIP of 3.34, which is pretty dang good. Lynn has basically been a 3 WAR pitcher for the last 3 seasons, has a better K rate than Wainwright, and has been more durable. His walk rate needs to come down some, but basically he has been a solid pitcher.

    We may see eye to eye on Bourjos, but definitely not on Lynn. But disagreement makes the world go round I guess.

    • Ben Chambers

      I was talking about his 2013 ERA because I was building the case of why I didn’t think much of him, but then later noted that he had a great second half of 2014.

      I’m not sold on FIP. I feel it weighs strikeouts too heavily, likely because I don’t put too much on strikeouts. Of all the advanced metrics, I like SIERA the best, but still stick to ERA as I still prefer it for starters (I look at WHIP with relievers). And WAR (especially fWAR) is based almost solely on FIP, so I’m also not very sold on WAR for pitchers. Mainly only look at WAR for position players.

      He had a great 2014, and if he keeps it up, then he’ll be fine, but to hinge the money of a contract essentially based on 4 months instead of the whole body of work is what I feel like happened compared to the other deals.

      • Marilyn Green

        I don’t think they hinged it on 4 months, they hinged it on his entire body of work. He has been a good, solid pitcher the whole time he has been a Cardinal. I get that you don’t like a particular stat, I don’t like ERA or WHIP, fwiw. The body of his stats, w/o cherry picking, show a durable, solid, pitcher (with warts, as all pitchers have) with a very good K rate. I don’t understand, please enlighten me, why you devalue strike outs? They are the best kind of out there is. No muss, no fuss, no risk of bad defense or other unlucky factors, just you’re out, sit down.

  2. Ben Chambers

    To me, an out is an out. It doesn’t matter if it’s a grounder to second, a fly out, or a strikeout. Other than runners moving up, etc, it doesn’t matter how a person gets out when it comes to run probability or win probability. It doesn’t change anything.

    And I know that there is a “luck” factor to balls in play and you have to trust your defense, but if you pitch well enough to get weak contact (on the ground or in the air), then you can still get plenty of outs.

    Also, the reason I de-value FIP is because it doesn’t take into account defense. Even if you are a high-K pitcher, you still are going to have balls put into play. If the official scorers are fairly reliable, then you can assume that a ball that should have been played for an out is going to not get put on someone’s ERA most of the time, but still takes into account when the defense does its job.

    • Marilyn Green

      Why should defense, good or bad, count for or against a pitcher? Defense is out of the pitcher’s control, therefore not indicative of true talent level. That’s like saying I should be evaluated by my boss based in part upon the performance of my co-workers. I like FIP BECAUSE it ignores defense. You have way more confidence in official scorer’s than I do, in fact I think they are mostly terrible, so something so subjective should not be considered in evaluating players. That just goes against fairness and good sense, imo. That is why I completely ignore error counts and fielding percentage for defense, way too subjective. Defensive metrics have their flaws but I think they are far more accurate than stats comprised of subjective evaluations from poorly trained (and they are) official scorers.

      As for outs all being the same, technically that is true, but I would much rather have a pitcher who can get a lot of outs with a K, than one who has to rely heavily on defense or luck to keep runs from scoring. Therefore, a pitcher who is highly skilled in getting Ks, is more valuable.

      I respect your opinion, and your right to have it. I just don’t understand it.

      Maybe we should stick to promoting Bourjos? :>)

      • Ben Chambers

        Maybe we should stick to Bourjos, but an interesting note on being graded by your boss based on the talent level of your co-workers: My wife is the GM of a Books-A-Million, and she is graded almost solely on the performance of the associates and managers under her in her store. haha

      • Marilyn Green

        I think what your wife does is totally different than the scenario to which I was referring . Of course someone in a supervisory position is going to be evaluated on the performance of who they supervise. But those people aren’t “co-workers” in the traditional meaning of the term. Which was the point I was making.

        I’m done. :<)

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