Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. Our reviews are all edited by Carl Pavano himself to insure they're up to the stringent "Pavano Tough" standards.
RHP Chien-Ming Wang
Since joining the Yankees in 2005 Chien-Ming Wang has emerged as the most dominant pitcher on the Yankees staff. While many in Yankeeland were hoping to land a "true" # 1 in Santana earlier this winter, Andy Pettitte dismissed the idea that Wang was anything but an ace, calling him "a stud."
After rehabing a rotator cuff injury at the end of the 2005 campaign, Wang has had two consecutive 19 win seasons, and leads the majors in wins during that time. He also has a 3.74 career ERA despite being a young pitcher in AL East, one of the most offensively formidable divisions in baseball if not the most.
Despite these figures many fans feel Wang will never be a true ace since he is not a power pitcher (his fastball is only in th 94-96mph range, how lame is that!) with high strike out totals. Respectjetersgangster contends that these people need to watch less sportscenter, have better historical memory, and learn more about baseball. It's true, Wang relies on a sinker to get groundball outs, not a fastball in order to tally strike outs. But it's also true that he is incredibly effective, the win totals don't lie. And it's not just the Yankee offense pulling him to victory, his low ERA (for an American League pitcher) is evidence of his effectiveness, but more importantly, anyone who watches this kid with regularity knows just how dominant he is.
Groundballs will never be highlights the way strike outs will, but that is hardly reason to suggest Wang is not an ace or a stopper. While Wang performed poorly in the 2007 postseason, he's performed excellently in the previous two. You can't take one bad playoff performance and write off a player's role in the pitching staff. It just doesn't make sense in a game like baseball to judge a pitcher's "aceness" based on a five game series.
Many fans will point to a number of "tell-tale" statistics ("his ERA is 7.68 on night games on odd numbered days after a rainy day") to try to make the case for Wang's lack of ace status. These individuals need to spend less time doing statistical analysis and check their eharmony profiles more often.
Not So Bold Prediction:
Wang will continue to be the ace of the staff and make another run at 20 wins, ending with a win total somewhere between 18 and 21. He will also pitch well in the 2008 playoffs.
Little Known Fact About Chien-Ming Wang:
Chien-Ming Wang actually throws a 102mph fastball, But after he killed a moose who strayed onto the practice field while he was firing away in 2004 he vowed to never throw that hard again.