You get what you pay for
When the Mariners signed Jarrod Washburn last winter, they thought they were getting a better pitcher than the one they’ve seen in 2006. Their problem, though, was one of misconception. Take a look at ’05 vs ’06 Washburn:
2005: 177 1/3 IP, 184 H, 51 BB, 94 K, 19 HR, 8 HBP
2006: 180 1/3 IP, 184 H, 52 BB, 101 K, 22 HR, 7 HBP
In essentially the same number of innings, he’s given up exactly the same number of hits, one more walk, three more home runs, and struck out 7 more batters while hitting one less. You couldn’t find a more consistent pitcher from last year to this year if you tried.
The rise in ERA, from 3.20 to 4.39, is completely due to amount of baserunners he’s allowed to score. Last year, he had the highest LOB% of any pitcher in the AL at 81.8%. This year, it’s down to a league average 70.2%.
The moral, as always: ERA is useless.