Is Jered Weaver an Elite Fantasy Pitcher?

Oct 2, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver (36) pitches in the first inning in game one of the 2014 American League divisional series against the Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For his entire career, Jered Weaver has been consistently productive. Even when his peripherals might suggest otherwise, he has posted an above-.500 record every season of his career, leading the American League in wins twice.

But when you get right down to it, fantasy baseball is about more than just wins and losses. Depending on your league format, you might see pitching scoring categories as simple as strikeouts and ERA, or maybe somewhat more advanced with WHIP and quality starts. However, no matter the format, most of the time an elite pitcher will be elite across the board.

So where does Weaver line up? Looking at his numbers from 2012-14, the answer would be a resounding “nope.” And when you factor in that Weaver’s best statistical season was 2011, the case falls apart even more.

Per Baseball Reference, Weaver’s FIP for the past three seasons is 3.94, with a career-worst mark of 4.19 in 2014 alone. The growing tendency to give up home runs is quickly becoming the biggest issue for Weaver. He had 27 balls leave the park after Weaver threw them in 2014, which was a career worst.

In fact, despite leading the AL in wins for 2014, Weaver had one of his worst pitching seasons. Although throwing more than 200 innings for the first time since 2011, his walks/9 were up, his strikeouts/9 were down, and his average game score was the lowest its been since 2009.

Furthermore, Weaver made the most starts in the AL with 34, yet only managed a quality start in 22 of them. Elite pitchers do not have a quality start average of 65%.

After nine years in the majors, Weaver has built up a pretty solid career stat line. For a life-long American League player, a lifetime ERA of 3.28 is nothing to sneeze at, and a .655 winning percentage is impressive regardless of the importance of individual wins and losses. But Weaver seems to be regressing, with little sign of turning things around. And at 31, the chances of actually turning things around become slimmer.

Of course, this could all be an aberration and Weaver could just be going through a funk. He remains a worthwhile draft option in the later rounds simply because he plays on an Angels team that scores runs and wins games in general. As a second or third starter on your team, Jered Weaver has value, but putting too much stock in him to lead your pitching staff would be a mistake.