Yesterday, after my conference I went down to a sports bar and watched the Yankees/Reds game. Ivan Nova was pitching and there were times that he looked spectacular. With Pettitte retired and Hughes shelved for the foreseeable future, Nova has become the defacto second in rotation for the Yankees.
I have followed his career through the minors mainly because I am a Yankees fan and I love seeing how their farm has shaped up. He dominated at AAA and last year got the call to the show. The one problem I have had is, I don’t know if he is a must collect kind of player. He is a sink or swim kind of pitcher, either he comes out and dominates or he flounders. You never know what to expect of him.
He is a Yankee and like it or not that in itself makes him a desirable player to collect. He is a young pitcher (24) and that tends to make him desirable to collect as well. Also his 7-4 record this season doesn’t tarnish him either. That being said, is that record all smoke and mirrors? If you examine his stats this year, you will see, if he were on any other team, he would be a marginal starter.
For me, I believe in just a few stats, ERA, WHIP and batting average against him. Lets take a look at these stats over his major league career, his ERA this season is 4.46, last year it was 4.50. His career minor league ERA average over five seasons was 3.80. So clearly he lets up between 4 – 5 runs a game. This in itself is not a horrible thing especially with the lineup behind him. They are certainly good for 4-5 runs a game easy. However, now put him on any non-first place team and that ERA isn’t going to fly if he was going to become an elite pitcher.
In my opinion, great or even highly collectible pitchers have a WHIP of 1.25 or lower. I love the WHIP stat since it’s a good indicator of a pitcher’s effectiveness at getting outs. Nova has had a 1.38 career minor league WHIP. This is just not acceptable if he is an elite pitcher. He major league WHIP rate was 1.42 and 1.55 for his two seasons in the majors. Those to me would indicate a fringe starter. Someone who should be at the back of the rotation or a spot starter.
Finally let’s look at his BAA, for the past two seasons in the majors, it has been hovering around the 0.280 level. That’s Barry Zito like numbers, not even the old Zito, but the not effective getting outs Zito. In short, this also translates to a back of the rotation starter.
So the question remains, to collect or not? With his autographed cards running between $10 – $15, with some of his rarer parallels going for as much as $50. I just think that is too much for someone, who when he is traded and you know he will be, his career will most likely tank. My vote of whether to collect or not, is a resounding NOT.
How do you feel about collecting him?