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Breaking Down the Rotation - #3 - Jason Marquis

Sorry about the late post today, folks! Enjoy!

Coming into the 2009 season, the big question on every team's minds is who's gonna fill out their rotation. Well, I guess, except for the Yankees. Colorado feels like they have a good, deep rotation, comprised of homegrown players, trades, and the occasional free agent. This week we'll be looking into who I feel the Rockies #3 start will be.

Jason Marquis

#21 / Pitcher / Colorado Rockies





Aug 21, 1978

The Rockies acquired Marquis a while back in exchange for Luis Vizcaino. Good trade, in my opinion. We are spending more on Marquis than we'd like, but what we traded for was a breath of consistency. Vizcaino, while putting up excellent K rates and passable BB rates, let the ball fly out of the park as if it was late for a meeting.

What we got for Mr. Vizcaino was Jason Marquis, a much maligned starter who has spent his career between Atlanta, St. Louis, and Chicago. Marquis is a reputable inning-eater, and has a career history of being incredibly average.

You might think that the elements of pitching such as K/9, BB/9, HR/9, etc, make Vizcaino a better pitcher than Marquis. Obviously, a starting pitcher is more valuable than a relief pitcher, but that aside, I feel that the big difference is in, and I shudder to say it, the Intangibles. Consistency, specifically. Vizcaino's 1st/2nd half splits were very off the wall, but you can attribute that to injury and such. But anecdotally speaking, he had about a month of lockdown pitching, and the other outings were BB, BB, BB, 2B8, 3 runs score, etc. It was hard to depend on him, so at least getting a good, consistent SP is a move in the right direction, right?

Well let's take a look.

Marquis has pitched upwards of 190 innings in 4 of his past 5 seasons, and started 32 games also in 4 of the past 5. He only managed 167 IP over 28 starts in 2008, however. He missed at least 1 start with the flu. (If someone has more on that, I'd like to see it) Thing is, it seems any missed starts weren't to pitching-related injury. Which is a good thing.

So here's the thing with Marquis. His 2008 and career numbers are all below average. Not horribly below average, but just low enough that he's a slightly below average pitcher. In fact, his career ERA+ (which is a park-adjusted measure of ERA vs League ERA, where 100=Average) is about 96.
Career 4.55 5.33 3.53 1.18 1.42 4.99
2008 4.53 4.90 3.77 0.81 1.45 4.50
League 2008 4.30 6.99 3.77 1.02 1.39 4.29

So you can see that he's a bit below average. Nothing mindblowing, but he's at least right in line with his career numbers.

Marquis is kind of a vanilla pitcher. None of his splits are especially interesting in either direction, like DLR, and none of his pitching is absurdly favorable towards home or road. For his career, he's been a bit better on the road, and a bit better in the 1st half. The only really interesting split is that his April ERA is 4.15, and in May it's 4.02. This is promising at least for the Rockies, who, as we've discussed, do poorly in April. It's not fantastic, but he has a shot at helping the team get off to a good start. Pretty Average.

Now comes the issue of consistency. What do we define as consistency? Well, his season ERAs haven't wavered TOOO much from his 4.55 career ERA (excepting 2006), and he's put up a solid amount of innings each season. Marquis is the kind of pitcher we'd hope can just come out and give you the same kind of performance each outing, even if it isn't the flashiest.

Over the last 5 years, he's made 158 starts, amassing 952 2/3 innings during those starts (I intentionally pulled out the numbers when he came in relief). That's 190.52 innings per season. I think it's safe to say he'll be an inning eater. He looks alright if you just look at his season stats, but what should we expect to see when he takes the mound for us every 5th game?

I ran all of his starts over the past 5 years through a nice big spreadsheet, and got the following numbers.

Per start, Jason Marquis is good for 6IP, allowing 6H, 3ER, 1.34 HR, 3BB, and he'll punch out 3. Over his career, 49% of his starts have been Quality Starts (6IP, 3ER, or better). That is Jason Marquis. Decent control, passable stuff, and a career 48% GB. Prettty average.

What is the range of Marquis' starts though? How good does he get? The below table lists all the averages, and their standard deviations.

Average 6.06 6.31 3.06 1.34 2.89 3.13
StDev 1.41 2.23 2.26 1.33 1.83 1.56

Basically this is saying that for about 70% of Marquis' starts, he will give you between 4 2/3 innings and 7 1/3 innings, allowing 1-5 ER.

To compare, Brandon Webb, a notably consistent starter, will give between 5 2/3 and 8 1/3 innings (mean of 6.9 IP and StDev of 1.27IP). More consistent than Marquis, that's for sure, but not by a horrible margin. About half an out.

You might comment on how his ER, HR, BB, and K have Standard Deviations that are very high, and suggest that he's actually an inconsistent pitcher. To respond, Brandon Webb's deviations were similar, even worse in some cases. When I say I have a consistent starter, I mean that he'll give you X many innings of passable baseball, give the bullpen a bit of a break, etc. (What do you guys consider as "consistent"? Good point for discussion.)

Baseball Reference finds Marquis to be most similar to Gil Meche, which isn't an awful comparison. His career ERA+ of 102 and Marquis' 96 both hover around that 100 mark for Average.

Another comparison that I hate to make is 2007 Josh Fogg, with better home run control.

That all said, it looks like Marquis stacks in up in the "consistent" category. Nothing too great, nothing too awful, pretty regular outing.

Bill James 29 27 9 10 167 94 65 1.45 1.19 5.07 3.50 1.43 .287 5.05
CHONE 29 29 8 10 167 92 68 1.35 1.08 4.96 3.66 1.52 .305 5.04
Marcel 10 9 162 96 66 1.45 1.00 5.33 3.67 1.43 ..291 4.78
RMN 30 30 9 8 177 96 73 1.30 0.94 4.90 3.71 1.50 .299 4.74 4.71

To wrap up Marquis, he seemingly has the same upside that Josh Fogg did when he first came to the Rockies. Decent inning-eating potential with an effective sinker. However, Marquis has a pretty solid bat as well. Maybe that will counteract Baldo's non-existent one.

My projections seem just a shade more optimistic than do the others, and I think that has more to do with the good dinger control he's displayed over the past 2 seasons.

Marquis, once again, is nothing special, I'm afraid. He's very average. But sometimes average is what you need.