J.A. Happ‘s second go round with the Blue Jays has been so much better than the first go.
In 2016, he went 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA and a 3.2 fWAR.
2017, he had a bit of injury trouble, but went 10-11 with a 3.53 ERA and a 2.9 fWAR. His FIP was actually better in 2017 than 2016. It would be nice if he could pitch a little deeper into games, he averaged 5.8 innings per start, but we can’t have everything. .
When we signed him to the 3-year, $36 million contract. At the time, I wasn’t thrilled, but FanGraphs tells us he’s been worth $48.3 million over the first two years. So, I was wrong to worry.
Now that he’s in the last year of his contract, the troubles of this year’s free agent class must have J.A. wondering what will happen after this season ends. And more for him to think about, with both Happ and Estrada in the last year of their contracts, if the team falls out of the race, either or both could be shopped at the trade deadline.
Happ is 35 now. At some point he’ll start going into decline. But then, he’s really just become very good the last 3 years. He’s had an 11 year career, totaled 17.5 bWAR, but 10.5 of that has come in the last three seasons.
I’ve always thought that pitchers that come into their own in their 30s tend to age well. His ‘under age 30’ workload was lighter than most starters, as he bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, so maybe there is less wear and tear on his arm than your average pitcher. There hasn’t been a drop in his velocity, maybe he can be effective into his late 30s.
PECOTA projects Happ to have a 4.15 ERA in 27 starts and a 1.7 WAR. ZiPS is a little more optimistic, seeing a 3.85 ERA in 142 innings over 25 starts and a 2.7 WAR. Let’s hope ZiPS has it right.
Happ is starting to climb up our franchise leader boards. He is:
- 19th in bWAR for pitchers at 9.8. A 1.9 WAR would get him to the 11th spot.
- 12th in Wins at 49. His 3rd win this year will put him in the top 10.
- 17th in Strikeouts at 561. 102 more would get him into the top 10.
If we set the over/under on WAR at 2.5 I’d take the
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