Community Projection Review: Paul Maholm

Let's review our 2006 projections for starter Paul Maholm.

Community 178 IP, 110 K, 63 BB, 4.00 ERA
ZiPS 145 IP, 104 K, 48 BB, 4.10 ERA
Actual 176 IP, 117 K, 81 BB, 4.76 ERA

The closest guesser in the BD community was, once again, Bolton, who predicted Maholm would be good for 160 IP, 90 K, 70 BB, and a 4.75 ERA. Obviously, Bolton was a tad off on the innings pitched, but he or she nailed the ERA, and the shape of Bolton's strikeouts and walks was very close given the number of innings projected.

As for the rest of us, we weren't perfect, but almost all the difference between our projections and what actually happened can be explained by Maholm's walks, which were excessive, to say the least. We were hoping for, oh I don't know, 2006-era Jeff Suppan, who put up a 4.12 ERA while walking 69 batters; instead we got 2006-era Miguel Batista, who walked 15 more batters and had an ERA half a run higher.

Maholm never allowed too many walks in the minors, so we were probably justified in guessing they wouldn't be a big deal in a full season in the majors. It'd also be reasonable to hope he can control them somewhat next year.

He'd better, because if he doesn't, he's never going to be more than a mediocre innings eater. Opponents reached base against him at a .378 clip last year, and a substantial portion of that OBP comes from the walks, and from Maholm's lack of strikeouts.

Part of that, though, was the fault of the Pirates' crappy defense - Zach Duke, Ian Snell and Maholm all had among the worst averages against in baseball on balls in play. Left-handed pitchers like Maholm and Duke may make a lot of sense for the Pirates as far as PNC Park is concerned, but the Pirates are very poorly positioned to take advantage of those pitchers' finesse, groundball-producing styles. Duke and Maholm's ERAs would probably improve substantially if the Pirates had better defensive players - the 2006 Pirates ranked last in the majors in defensive efficiency. It's a shame that the Pirates are relying so heavily on players who can't field to help pitchers who can't strike batters out. Moreover, the Pirates' best defender, Chris Duffy, is poorly positioned to help Maholm and Duke since those pitchers don't allow many fly balls.

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