SleepersJanuary 17, 2007

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Sleeper Watch
LIMA: Part One of a Series

By Eddie Siegel

Coined by Baseball Forecaster creator Ron Shandler, LIMA stands for Low Investment Mound Aces, a strategy used to get high-quality pitchers later in a draft or for cheap dollar values. The theory behind the strategy is to look for pitchers with high K/BB and K/9, and low HR/9 ratios; these stats more accurately predict the next season’s ERA than looking at the previous season’s ERA. However, I will take into account a few more bits of information then the three aforementioned stats when dealing with these pitchers throughout the off-season. My nominee for the LIMA of 2007 is Dave Bush, America’s third favorite Bush.

The shrubbery from Milwaukee had a mediocre 4.41 ERA last year (which in itself will likely drop him on a lot of people’s draft lists) and added a good-but-not-inspiring 166 Ks. But Bush’s Earned Runs Created, a sort of reverse RC/27, was 3.47 – a much more accurate indicator of his success. Not to mention his WHIP was 1.15, up with the elite of the NL. Furthermore, Bush is 27, one of the “magical ages” used to help predict breakout seasons.

Bush tied for first in the NL with a 4.31 K/BB ratio. The other names in the top ten in the NL? Oswalt. Carpenter. Smoltz. Webb. Peavy. Capuano. Harang. Maddux. He’s in pretty good company. High K/BB ratio? Check.

Bush also was third in the NL last year for percent of pitches in the strike zone – his control is definitely there – and he again places third in the NL with an average of 3.49 pitches per batter, highlighting his ability to get hitters out without straining himself. But when you realize his K/9 is 7.11, he is hardly just a Maddux-esque control pitcher. High K/9? Check.

He allowed 26 HRs in 32 games last year – not spectacular, but enough to see he isn’t offering them up on a silver platter.

He suffered at times from poor run support and poor defense behind him, but with emerging (and healthy) stars Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, and JJ Hardy, his run support should increase. Bringing in starter Jeff Suppan and coupling him with a hopefully healthy Ben Sheets (it’s a stretch, I know) should result in more rest for one of MLB’s worst bullpens. A full season of Francisco Cordero – who had a 1.89 ERA with the Brewers last year – and a decent bounce back from Derrick Turnbow should give the Brew Crew a pretty good eighth and ninth inning punch, holding onto a few more wins for Bush.

Fearless prediction: 3.65 ERA, 175 Ks, 1.15 WHIP, 14 Wins. Plus, you’ll get him cheap!

As a hopeful MLB General Manger, Eddie is biding his time by getting an economics degree and playing fantasy baseball. You can find Eddie posting in the Cafe's forums under the name of suppasonic.
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