With Daniel Cabrera moving down the road to the Nationals, I wondered what he might look like next season. Not literally. Literally he'll look like a 6'7" guy from the Dominican Republic with a red cap. But how will he fare pitching in Nationals Park?
To begin, I'll steal some work by Derek Carty at The Hardball Times who did a study earlier this year on the effect that switching leagues had on pitchers. Using his formula on Cabrera's 2008 stats, we may get an idea of what he'll do for Washington in 2009.
K/9 BB/9 HR/F LOB% LD% GB% IF/F ERA ERA+
Cabrera '08 4.5 4.2 12.7% 72.4% 19.7% 48.0% 7.7% 5.25 86
Cabrera WSN 5.1 3.7 12.9% 72.9% 20.1% 48.3% 7.8% 4.86 88
If you're going to face a pitcher every ninth at bat, in addition to banjo-hitting bench players and defensive specialists, you would expect to have a better ERA. The changes for most of these rate stats are marginal and they go both for and against the pitcher. Where Daniel is helped is by the slight uptick in K's he can expect and a supposed drop in walks. Cabrera has dropped his walk rate every year for the past three seasons but I don't see it dropping this much next season. With less imposing hitters in the lineup, there is less chance of a pitcher "pitching around" batters but I don't think Daniel ever consciously did that. You have to know where the ball is going to pitch around a guy.
Barring the long-awaited quantum leap, Cabrera will provide the Nationals what he provided for the Orioles last year; a mercurial season with more than 180 IP and an ERA+ in the high 80's. Oh, he'll be their second best pitcher too.
(I have a moratorium on the whole Teixeira deal, much like I finally did for Brian Roberts and Erik Bedard trade rumors last season. I'll comment on it once it's done...)