Early Player Thoughts: Mike Leake

I thought, as a way to get myself going, I’d take a look at how some players are doing, guys who either struggled last year or missed 2016 entirely.

Mike Leake, who we signed last year after we couldn’t get David Price, is off to a good start. Currently, Leake is 3-1 with a 1.35 ERA, a 0.990 WHIP and 1.9 WAR.

The problem is people are ecstatic over this, I’m not. we’re getting what we paid for. He signed for 6 years, roughly 93 million dollars, with the last year being a mutual option at 18 million dollars (gee 18 million dollars when he’s likely to have started his decline? I don’t see Leake being the one declining the option there…) I realize salaries in baseball are out of control and an averaged out salary of 15 million dollars a year isn’t quite what it used to be, but we definitely didn’t get what we paid for last year, even if you account for the fact that he made the lowest salary of his contract, 12 million.

If you’ve already forgotten last years ugliness, let me remind you: He went 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA, a 1.319 WHIP and 1.9 WAR.

In my mind, he’s starting to make up for what he did last year, and beginning to earn the salary.

If he were making, say 2 to 5 million, *then* I’d be ecstatic.

The next question is can he keep this up? Up until now, his career high in WAR was 2.8, so it doesn’t seem likely. While his BABIP of .277 isn’t outside of career norms, his 84.9 Left On Base percentage, or LOB%, is easily a career high. His best before this was in 2013, at 77.7 percent.

Also, before this year, he’d allowed 20 or more homers the last four years in a row. He’s allowed none so far. That seems flukey.

There’s also the fact that he’s on pace to earn more WAR in a half season than he had in any other *entire* season, as his career high of WAR for a season is 2.8.

I don’t think he’ll as bad as last year (I certainly hope not!) but I expect this to start normalizing out soon. If he ends up with an ERA between 3.50 to 3.80 with 3 to 4 WAR, he’ll have met my expectations.

As always, thanks for reading.

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