Home > Sports > The Mystery of Edwin Jackson–Could he be a Met?

The Mystery of Edwin Jackson–Could he be a Met?

Since 2005, Edwin Jackson has played for a total of six teams, only once completing consecutive season in the same uniform.  This comes at a time when every MLB team is desperate for pitching, even those loaded with arms.  Pitching is a scarce commodity in baseball and here is a relatively young pitcher, how is it possible that he’s been bounced around like a pinball and now remains an unsigned free agent well into the offseason?

Yesterday I saw Metsblog ask if “Edwin Jackson is an option for the Mets?”  I was intrigued, because I had seen the rumors about possible interest in Gio Gonzalez and was beside myself trying to figure out what we could offer that the A’s would want (answer: not much).  For several years, Jackson was a desirable late round pick/cheap dollar buy in fantasy baseball auctions, yet he was wildly inconsistent.  He exemplified your typical volatile young fantasy asset–the one where you start him against bad teams and he gets rocked, then sit him against great teams and he pitches shut outs.

This firmly shaped my opinion of the guy as a pitcher, but that’s from a fantasy perspective. The draw to him has consistently been the tremendous upside, but despite that, in real baseball he has been almost as undesirable as in the fantasy world. So, when I saw the Edwin Jackson rumors, I decided to do a little digging in Fangraphs to prove (or disprove) some of my hunches about Edwin Jackson, the pitcher.

Sure enough, Jackson is way better than I thought. Last year, his Wins Above Replacement (WAR) registered a 3.8.  Not quite All Star numbers, but comfortably above league average.  In fact, he was better than the following pitchers who all are perceived as “superior”: Tim Hudson, Jon Lester, Jaime Garcia, Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos, among others.

Some might chalk this up to luck, but this is the second consecutive season of a WAR of 3.8 and third in a row of 3.6 or higher.  Not bad for a 28 year old, and actually fairly consistent for a pitcher known for his inconsistency.  For those who want to brush this aside as a fluke, let me strike back with the following: Jackson actually improved his peripherals last year, as evidenced by a career low BB/9 of 2.79 (well below his 3.66 career avg), but the improvement was masked by an above average BABIP of 3.30.  Point being: there is further room for improvement in WAR.

Perhaps the reason Jackson remains so undesirable is his agent–Scott Boras–but I have to believe that the lack of good pitching available on the market would more than compensate for the Boras factor. Plenty of teams with money need pitching. This tells me that teams just aren’t all that interested, therefore I think the Mets should fill the market gap and step up as buyers.

At this point in his career, there is a decent margin of safety with Jackson–three consecutive years as an above average MLB player means that he should cement the bottom line as a decent #3 in an MLB rotation.  Plus the guy has some serious upside if he can continue the progress on his control from last year and reverse some of the bad luck.  28 is that ripe age where some frustrating pitchers with “stuff” put it all together and step into their prime. Jackson is right in that sweet spot today.

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