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Jeremy Bonderman – Is 2007 the Year?

It’s hard to argue that Jeremy Bonderman hasn’t gotten better in each of his four major league seasons.  He nearly doubled his 2003 strikout total (108) in his 2006 campaign (202) and the number of innings he’s logged has gone up in each of the four years while his ERA has come down in all four.  He still hasn’t broken through the 15 win barrier, but his 14-8 record in 2006 doesn’t do him justice.  Jeremy Bonderman is the best pitcher on the Tigers right now.  At some point, Justin Verlander and maybe even Andrew Miller could pass him, but Bonderman’s the ace and he showed flashes of being one in 2006.

So the question is, if he’s so good, when will we see that season where he finishes near, or even at, the top of the Cy Young voting?   I personally think that season could be 2007 and in a lot of ways, so does Baseball Prospectus.

Baseball Prospectus recently published their PECOTA cards for the 2007 season.  You can check out Bonderman’s card but here’s a quick run down.

The first thing that was noteworthy was that they put Jeremy Bonderman sixth in all of baseball and third in the American League in weighted mean VORP (44.7).  The guys in front of him are Pedro Martinez, Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy and of course the front runner, Johan Santana.  So if the projections end up being correct and he finishes as the sixth best pitcher to that group, I wouldn’t see a whole lot of shame in that.

The one thing I did find odd is even Bonderman’s 90 percentile doesn’t have him at 200 strikeouts.  It does have him at 16-6 with a 1.13 WHIP and a 2.62 ERA.  Although I have a feeling if he has a 2.62 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, that we’ll see closer to 20 wins with the lineup that the Tigers will be bringing in 2007.

Probably the most impressive part of the card was that BP gives Bonderman a 45% breakout rate and an 88% improve rate.  So they’re basically saying that in all likely hood, Bonderman should top that mean weighted average and then have a 50% of coming out close to the top.  I like those numbers especially when you combine them with only a 4% attrition and a 4% collages rating. 

Also impressive is Bonderman’s comparable pitchers.  He has a 42 similarity index which is okay for making comparisons and his most comparable pitcher is Larry Dierker who had a pretty solid career before flaming out. He won 22 games as a 22 year old but he was done by age 30.  Second is Bill Gullickson, who also had an early start and had a breakout season at the age of 24.  I thought the most optimistic one was Bert Blyleven, who is Bonderman’s fifth most comparable pitcher. 

The cards are a lot of fun to check out.  Sheffield’s card doesn’t look too hot but his 2006 injury plays a big factor in that.  They expect a pretty steep decline from Kenny Rogers and they have a pretty wide range for what Justin Verlander might do. 

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