"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

A Wang Wook At Chein-Ming

After ten major league appearances, Chien-Ming Wang heads into tonight’s game with a 4.31 ERA, and a 1.24 WHIP having held opposing batters to a .248/.305/.343 (.223 GPA) line with a staggering 2.57 ground ball to fly ball ratio (which would rank sixth in the major leagues among qualified pitchers if Wang himself actually qualified). All of which is more than most could have asked for from a rookie pitcher thrust into an essentially permanent rotation spot due to an injury on the major league club.

But then there are these numbers: 3.30 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, 1.28 K/BB. Those figures, particularly the K/9, which would be seventh worst in the majors if Wang qualified, have prompted some to call for Wang to be dealt before he is revealed as the phony they believe his low K-rate indicates he is. Taking that a step further, there are those who have accused Wang of feasting on poor-hitting teams, while struggling against more powerful offenses.

Well, thus far Chien-Ming has faced eight teams, and made starts against seven of them, here they are along with their current major league rank in runs scored and OPS:

Team Runs Rank OPS Rank AVG vs. Wang Wang ERA
Red Sox 1 1 .300 3.86
Cardinals 4 6 .350 9.00
Devil Rays 10 15 .327 7.50
Blue Jays 13 25 .222 2.57
Cubs 15 7 .185 1.13
Twins 17 22 .200 3.86
Tigers 21 23 .227 2.84
Mariners 27 29 .192 3.95

Against those eight teams, Wang has turned in six quality starts in nine opportunities. The three exceptions being his two starts against the Devil Rays and his one against the Cardinals. His one appearance against the Red Sox came in relief.

Those stats would seem to support the image of Wang as a pitcher whose success has been largely based on facing week offenses, but I’m not convinced. To begin with, his minor league strikeout and walk rates indicate that his current low K-rate is likely to improve. In four minor league seasons between A ball and Columbus, Wang’s worst K/9 was 6.20 and his career minor league mark is 7.16 K/9. Similarly, his worst BB/9 was 2.36. Both of those marks came in his first season at double-A in 2003 and both improved when he returned to Trenton in 2004, and then improved again when he was promoted to Columbus later that year. Similarly, Wang’s second most recent start, against the Cubs who rank well above Tampa and just behind St. Louis in OPS, was his best of his young major league career and saw him strike out five men in eight innings against just one walk.

Still, until Wang acquits himself against strong-hitting teams, the doubters will have the floor. Tonight, Chien-Ming makes his first career start against the Orioles, who rank fifth in the majors in runs scored and second in the bigs in OPS. Again, I’m optimistic.

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1 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 28, 2005 2:30 pm

1.  It's a small sample and Wang has no control over the schedule that the Yankees play. A note on K/IP ratio: too lazy to look up the numbers myself but I would bet that there is a correlation between declining K/IP ratios and pitching for Mel Stottlemyre. He emphasizes keeping everything down regardless in order to put balls in play on the ground...his personal pitching nirvana. I betcha all pitchers, whether acquired via trade, free agency, the minor leagues suffer mystifying declines in K/IP ratio accompanied by higher HR/IP ratio. The exceptions would be Clemens, Cone, perhaps Wells, who were not dependent upon Mel for much of anything during their tenures.

2 uburoisc   ~  Jun 28, 2005 5:05 pm

2.  1st and 2nd, no outs. Ruben and Tony get nothing. Joe, you should be fired for these two idiots.

3 tocho   ~  Jun 28, 2005 5:20 pm

3.  If the radar is right, Wang is reaching the advertized 97mph fastball pretty consistently and has 3 K already. I really hope the Yanks don't trade him.

4 Marcus   ~  Jun 28, 2005 5:33 pm

4.  Take a look at today's Yankees batting order. 4 guys batting over .300, two guys getting close (Cano at .287, Posada at .277), 1-7 with an OPS over .800. Then you look at 8 and 9 and you want to either laugh or cry. Womack is hitting .159 in June, with a .328 OPS (yes that's OPS). Ruben isn't much better at .513 OPS in June, .631 on the season.

Wow, to further emphasize how terrible he is, Ruben Sierra grounds into his second double play of the game. The least he could do is get it in the air.

5 tocho   ~  Jun 28, 2005 6:21 pm

5.  THREE DP by the fabulous combo of Sierra and Womack, six outs for the price of three, between the 2 of them. Nice.

Meanwhile, Wang is dealing but has a one-run lead only, should he be relieved?

6 Dan M   ~  Jun 28, 2005 6:49 pm

6.  If anyone still thinks that the Yankees are playing smart, they should look at their approach in the 8th. Ponson came into the inning having thrown 103 pitches, and then retired them on 5 pitches.

Ugh, Gordon.

7 Zack   ~  Jun 28, 2005 6:51 pm

7.  Well, Torre's magical formula does it again. Being only able to fathom Gordon in that situation, they blow the game.

Anyone got any insight as to my Gordon has been utterly unable to field bunts this year?

8 Zack   ~  Jun 28, 2005 6:53 pm

8.  Also, George made it official that Swindell will take over, who promptly claimed he will not be nearly as hands on as George and will "surround himself with the brightest minds in the game." Let us pray for this to be the truth and hope those minds include the Stick and others who will have control...

9 NealPhd   ~  Jun 28, 2005 7:27 pm

9.  WHY WHY WHY would Torre not use Mariano in the 10th??? He is the Yankees best pitcher, he is good for 2 innings, and the middle of the Yankee order is up in the 11th. Why save him for a "save" situation, when Stanton is libel, and just DID blow the game.

10 Dan M   ~  Jun 28, 2005 7:31 pm

10.  Liable. I don't think Mike printed anything slanderous about anybody ;)

Same reason he pitched Weaver in the WS.

11 Mike Z   ~  Jun 28, 2005 7:32 pm

11.  That has got to be the stupidest thing Torre has done all year. If I could see that coming, then certainly he should have too.

That was just inexcusable. They had better win tomorrow or I'll really be fuming.

12 NealPhd   ~  Jun 28, 2005 7:33 pm

12.  its late, you'll forgive the spelling error. Soon as I saw Stanton in, I called the Roberts HR.

13 JohnnyC   ~  Jun 28, 2005 8:38 pm

13.  Well, let's hope the rumors about Gene Michael (or Michaels as Whitey Ford always calls him) regaining some authority in the organization come true. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, those Dugout Cowboys, Joe and Mel, continue their rough-riding of Yankees hopes. Today's theme, for Mel, throw everything inside to Orioles' power hitters. Everybody! All together now. For the second time in as many games, the first pitch after Stottlemyre's conference on the mound is thrown inside and, yes, results in it getting whacked forthwith, verily. Good advice, Mel. And, as everyone has eloquently observed, Torre has no clue how to manage a bullpen. Clueless Joe indeed. I'm beyond commenting on his ridiculous line-ups.

14 brockdc   ~  Jun 28, 2005 10:49 pm

14.  When I saw that Stanton was up to start the inning (as opposed to Mo), I busted my remote. Does that count as "calling it"?

Either way, I still need to order a new DirecTV remote.

15 rbj   ~  Jun 29, 2005 5:44 pm

15.  Could Chein-Ming be Wookie of the Year? He's not furry enough.

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