The Prospect Corner with Adam G.

9 01 2008

Joba Chamberlain III – The Finale!

I really didn’t want to write about Joba again, but it seems that every time I post something about him, a few people bring up a point or two that I feel are worth addressing. Here are 2 points that were recently brought up that I’d like to take the time to address:

1. Joba will not be as successful when he is moved to a starting position. Just look at Jon Papelbon.
2. He won’t stay healthy.

In response to point #1, Papelbon – as great as Red Sox fans think he is – does not provide an accurate comparison to measure Chamberlain by. Just look at the stats (I don’t have his GB% from the minors, so I’m just going to give you his major league GB% average):

As you can see, Papelbon never had the K/9 rates or GB% average that Chamberlain has, and Chamberlain posted his numbers at 21 years old, whereas Papelbon was 23 and 24 years old during the majority of his minor league career.

If we really want to find a good comparison for Joba as a starter, then I think using a guy like Tim Lincecum is much better than Papelbon. He and Chamberlain went through the minors at about the same pace and posted very similar numbers. Last winter a lot of people doubted Lincecum, but as a rookie with the Giants this year, he posted a K/9 rate virtually equal to Jake Peavy and suddenly people believe the hype.

Joba and Lincecum had generally similar K/9 and GB% numbers, but Joba has displayed better control at an earlier age. Plain and simple, Joba is for real. Chamberlain is in an elite class of pitchers that includes other guys like Dwight Gooden.

Now for point #2. Injury is a part of baseball and it’s only natural to take a player’s health into consideration when analyzing prospects. There are plenty of excellent young pitchers – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Rick Ankiel – that blew up just a few years into their careers. But injuries and breakdowns happen, and every player will be injured at some point. If collectors only collected cards of guys that had a 100% chance of never being injured, then the hobby would be absolutely void of demand. Don’t let injury talk keep you from accepting talent.
Once again, thanks for all the comments.


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