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2010 Season in Review: Jair Jurrjens

Written by Joe Lucia on .

After a season that saw him post a 2.60 ERA, many fans expected the world from Jair Jurrjens. They weren't looking at the 3.68 FIP he posted in 2009 though, and expected that he would be able to sustain that 2.60 ERA. 2010 showed that the numbers never lie, and JJ's ERA rose all the way up to 4.64 with a 4.19 FIP as he battled injuries and ineffectiveness all season, making only 20 starts and throwing 116 1/3 innings. Glancing over JJ's peripherals for 2010, its clear what the jump in FIP/ERA can be attributed to: home runs. His K rate stayed constant at 6.65 (career: 6.38), his walk rate stayed constant at 3.25 (career: 3.24), but his homer rate spiked all the way up to 1.01 (career: 0.70). If you're not into rate stats and just like round numbers, Jurrjens allowed 13 homers in those 116 1/3 innings in 2010...in 2009, he allowed 15 in 215 innings. 2008, he allowed 11 in 188 1/3 innings. So there is a definite jump there.

The injury that sidelined Jurrjens early in the season eventually faded, and he was solid if not unspectacular following his return in late June after a terrible April. The wheels completely fell off in September, as he allowed 4 homers in 15 2/3 innings and posted a 6.32 ERA. Then he missed a start against Philly with some knee tenderness. Further tests revealed he had a torn meniscus, which he had surgery to repair this offseason. Jurrjens will be at full health to start the season, or so the Braves hope. With Kris Medlen expected to miss a good chunk of the season, and Kenshin Kawakami cleared off the 40-man roster, Jurrjens is an important part of the Braves rotation. If his knee isn't ready, Brandon Beachy or Mike Minor could easily take over for a few starts and help keep the Braves' head above water, but neither is much of a long-term replacement at this point in their career.

If Jurrjens didn't get hurt at the end of the year, and Medlen also didn't get hurt, I was hypothesizing that he could be traded. His agent is Scott Boras, and he's going to be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, so a big raise will be in order for him. But alas, with the injuries, he's going to be staying put in Atlanta. I think trading him next offseason, provided that him and Medlen are both healthy, and that Jurrjens has a good season, could be a possibility. He's a young, solid #3 starter, and could probably fetch a decent return. The Braves farm system is very strong, but lacking in young hitting prospects. The team could definitely use a couple of young impact bats to fill out the prospect lists a little bit. Overall, I think Jurrjens is overvalued by those who put more faith in conventional stats as opposed to sabermetric ones. He's not an elite pitcher, despite what that 2009 ERA may say. If you're Frank Wren, and a team comes to you offering a couple of top 100 hitting prospects for him, that's a deal you need to do, right?

2011 will be a very important year in Jurrjens' career. If the Braves fall out of contention early on, I also wouldn't be surprised to see him be moved then depending on the progress of Beachy and Minor. Jurrjens is a polarizing figure among Braves fans, and the team has already gotten their money's worth and more out of him. If he gets spun off during the 2011 season or offseason, I'd expect some very angry fans who are going to need things explained to them in detail.
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