This afternoon, San Diego Padres right-handed pitcher Jered Weaver announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. Weaver had a long and distinguished career with the Los Angeles Angels prior to signing with the Padres as a free agent this past winter. Let’s take a quick look at what Weaver was like as a prospect, and how he fits into historical context.
Jered Weaver was an excellent starting pitcher at Long Beach State University in California, going 14-4, 1.96 as a sophomore in 2003 then 15-1, 1.63 ERA and a stunning 213/21 K/BB in 144 innings as a junior in 2004. He had high bonus demands and lasted until the 12th overall pick, and even then the Angels had trouble signing him.
In the winter of 2004-2005, I wrote the following assessment:
Jeff Weaver’s younger brother Jered Weaver had a season for the ages last year, utterly dominating college baseball for Long Beach State. He would have been one of the first five picks in the draft, but his bonus demands scared teams off. As of this writing, Weaver has not signed, but there is supposedly a decent chance that he will before spring training. Weaver’s fastball is good at 90-93 MPH, with sinking action. He also uses a slider, curveball, and changeup. His stuff and delivery are similar to his brother’s, but Jered has much better command, and should be a better Major League pitcher. Grade B+.
Weaver finally signed of course and posted a 3.90 ERA in 76 innings in his pro debut split between High-A and Double-A, with a 95/26 K/BB. His velocity was down a bit, especially late in the year. Here was the assessment entering 2006:
2004 first-round pick Jered Weaver finally signed last spring, and pitched well enough in his pro debut to make the Angels feel good about their investment. He had to shake some rust off, and his velocity was rather inconsistent, at least in the Texas League, where his velocity dipped from the lower 90s into the upper 80s at times. He also had some surprising trouble with his command, but in general he pitched credibly. Weaver features a curve, slider, and changeup to go with his fastball. At his best, he combines superb precision with above- average stuff across the board. I saw him last year as a solid number two or three starter, and that assessment still sounds good. Grade B+.
Weaver ended up making 19 starts in the major leagues in 2006 and was quite impressive, posting a 2.56 ERA in 123 innings with a 105/33 K/BB. He held down a rotation spot with the Angels for the next decade, pitching brilliantly at times.
As you know his velocity sagged late in his career but he was so adept at smoke-and-mirrors he kept it going longer than most pitchers could have.
Overall, Weaver went 150-98 in his career with a 3.63 ERA, ERA+111, and a 1621/551 K/BB in 2067 innings. He made four All-Star teams, led the American League in strikeouts once and in wins twice. He finished with 30.3 fWAR, with peak seasons in 2010 (5.9) and 2011 (5.7). Jered did turn out to be similar to but overall better than his brother Jeff, who ran up a 23.3 fWAR in 1838 innings.
His most comparable pitchers by Sim Score: Tim Hudson, Roy Oswalt, Jimmy Key, Bartolo Colon, John Candelaria, Dennis Leonard, Don Newcombe, Kevin Brown, Cliff Lee, and Bret Saberhagen. Among pitchers with a similar number of career innings, Weaver’s fWAR is in the territory of Mike Boddicker (31), Charles Nagy (30.9), Floyd Bannister (30.8), Danny Jackson (30.6), Barry Zito (30.4), and throwbacks Van Mungo (30.2), Johnny Allen (29.9), and Claude Hendrix (29.6).
Every one of those guys was an highly successful pitcher, some as top-of-the-rotation aces and some as workhorse two/three types. Weaver was a true ace at his best and was refined enough to stay alive even when his stuff began to fail.