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Astros' signing of Mike Hampton more than palatable

HLP here for my cameo post of the week. I'm 3/5 done with my finals, as I have Evidence on Friday and Constitutional Criminal Procedure on Monday. After that, I'll be back to help ease the load. Anyway, enough about me. The Hampton deal is official, and I just wanted to add my two cents, albeit in abbreviated fashion:

  • At the outset it seems like a good deal. Hampy has shown the ability to be a ground ball pitcher, even after his injury troubles. In his 78 IPs in 2008, he had a GB% of nearly 53, to match a GB% of 50.9 over the past five seasons
  • True, he also struggled with the home run ball this past season (a 15.2% HR/FB rate in 2008), but that is not something a pitcher has a ton of control over. Ask Roy O. His career numbers say that his sinker is a pitch that will enable him to induce a sufficient amount of ground balls, compensating for his less than stellar control (1.53 career K/BB ratio)
  • He's being signed to be a middle to back end of the rotation type guy. The Marcel and Bill James average FIP for Hampton in 2009 is a manageable 4.80. For a $2-4 million contract, if he can put up a FIP that is .7 of a run lower than replacement level, I would call this a savvy move by Ed Wade. Tom Tango's salary scale tells us that a pitcher whose WARP is at 1 was worth $4.4 million before this past season. With the economics of baseball being affected more and more by the economics of the country as a whole, this value may change, but probably not dramatically. If we can pencil in (and I do mean pencil..actually, dry erase marker may be more appropriate) Hampton for 100-120 IP in 2009, he would certainly be around the WARP value of 1, basically saving the Astros 10 runs or so over a replacement level player. Even if Hampy reaches all the incentives in his contract and it reaches the $4 million level, his signing will have been extremely reasonable