Im sick of people bringing out these meaningless K/9 stats and everything else. All you gotta do is look at the guy's ERA and opposing batters average and see that the guy is absolutely fine. Who cares if his strikeout ratios are declining? since when was the only way to get someone out through K's? Zito has never been that type of pitcher, so why use the K/9 figure???
ERA and Opposing Batting Average are wildly fluctuating. I don't think they are reliable stats. Zito's expected ERA (given hits and walks allowed) were almost identical in 2002 and 2003 (3.09 and 3.05) but he had an actual ERA of 2.75 and 3.30. I'd say his lower ERA in 2002, as well as his 23-5 record, had a bit of good luck involved, just as his 3.30 ERA and 14-12 record last year had bad luck involved. He was nearly the same pitcher except for 36 less strikeouts and 10 more walks. Innings pitched and hits were very close.
If he stays at the level he was last season, he should be as good. If his K/9 drops another 1.5, he's in trouble.
Here are some projections for Zito I have handy, from assorted sources:
Baseball Forecaster: 225 inn, 15 wins, 3.84 era, 1.26 whip, 147 k
Rototimes: 230 inn, 16 wins, 3.25 era, 1.19 whip, 162 k
PECOTA: 202 inn, (no wins projection), 4.01 era, 1.29 whip, 143 k
And for Tim Hudson:
Baseball Forecaster: 240 inn, 20 wins, 2.93 era, 1.13 whip, 181 k
Rototimes: 235 inn, 16 wins, 2.91 era, 1.14 whip, 161 k
PECOTA: 215 inn, (no wins projection), 3.52 era, 1.26 whip, 140 k
Roger Angell: I was talking with Bob Gibson and I said: 'Are you always this competitive?' He said: 'Oh, I think so. I got a three-year old daughter, and I've played about 500 games of tic-tac-toe with her and she hasn't beat me yet.'