South Korean right hander Chan Ho Park was just signed by the Yankees and he will likely be the long man out of the bullpen. Before getting into the numbers, I like this deal. At $1.2MM base, this is a pretty good deal for the Yankees. It’s relatively cheap and Park is pretty versatile. He can be called on for multiple inning duty, which I love, and can do the one inning stuff as well. Basically, he’s an older version of Alfredo Aceves. Having two men out of the bullpen who can go multiple innings is very valuable, because it can give the late inning guys a big break if they need it.
As the Phillies’ swingman last year, Park was worth 1.5 WAR, which was 7th among NL relievers. A big part of Park’s improvement was that he did a very good job of keep the ball in the park. His HR/9 was a minuscule 0.54, which is way better than his career mark of 1.03; the league average for his career has been 1.05 HR/9. With Park moving to the ultra-powerful A.L. East, it will be interesting to see if he can keep the homers down. Now, let’s look at what we can reasonably expect from Chan Ho in 2010.
The average projected line for Park is basically what we could expect from him: 73.75 IP in 53 G, 61 SO, 29 BB (2.10 K/BB), and a 4.45 FIP. Using the WAR Spreadsheet from BTB (thanks to Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues for sending that along), we can predict that Park will be worth a relatively underwhelming 0.2 WAR, which is what Sergio Mitre was worth in 2009. It is, however, better than Phil Coke’s 0.1 mark.
For a 37 year old reliever who hasn’t pitched in the A.L. since 2004, that projection seems about right. The projection systems are confident that his HR/9 will bounce back towards his career average (the avg. projection is 1.1 HR/9), so that’s influencing the higher than normal FIP. It’s also worth noting that Park has pitched to an FIP under 4.45 in three of his last four full seasons.
If Park ends up pitching much worse than this, his salary will likely not be an obstacle to cutting him loose. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. If it does, though, it won’t be the end of the world for the Yankees.
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