Just What Is Vance Worley Worth?


Vance Worley, the man who spawned a thousand trade rumors. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The most common name mentioned in any trade talks regarding the Phillies is that of the be-goggled one, Vance Worley.

CSNPhilly.com reported on Tuesday that the Phillies are actively shopping both Worley and Trevor May for outfield help. Worley has been linked to players like Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson, Shin Soo Choo, Josh Willingham, Justin Upton, and any other potential outfielder who can hit a baseball with any regularity and force.

But what is Worley worth? What makes him such a commodity? And if he’s really this valuable, is it smart for the Phils to consider letting him go?

First, the negatives. Worley does not throw overly hard, averaging anywhere from 89-91, topping out at 93 mph. His breaking stuff isn’t anything dynamic, and he was hurt for much of last season with bone chips in his elbow.

Worley, at his best, is a low-end #3 pitcher, and a very solid #4.

But to discount the value of a good #4 pitcher is to make a serious mistake. Pitchers at #4 in the rotation pitch playoff games. Their turn in the rotation does not get skipped. A good number four starter can sometimes be worth an addition two to four wins a season.

In 2011, when Worley was fully healthy, his WAR was 3.2. That’s not insignificant.

Not only that, Worley knows how to use the stuff he has, especially against left-handers. His two-seam fastball that starts in on a lefties’ hip then darts over the plate is what is responsible for these remarkable splits.

vs RHB as RHP535975325714638114391042.67.274.329.429.758.317
vs LHB as RHP53597524591322959581342.31.252.327.378.705.319

Check out those strikeout numbers. As a right-handed pitcher, Worley has faced the exact same number of right-handed and left-handed batters throughout his career. And in his career, he has struck out 134 lefties compared to 104 righties. His walk rate against lefties is a bit higher, but not much. And he has actually held left-handed hitters to a lower batting average and lower OPS during his career.

It is insane that a right-handed pitcher can have that kind of success against left-handed hitters.

Those numbers include last year’s injury-marred half-season, in which he pitched through much of the summer with bone chips in his throwing elbow.

3 Yrs1813.5813.505346277.227823972381121.3519.
162 Game Avg.129.5813.50363219119116671631121.3519.

In his first 12 starts last year, from April through the end of June, Worley had an ERA of 2.92, with 66 Ks and 25 BBs in 74 innings. It wasn’t until he started dealing with his elbow problems that his season cratered, posting a 5.80 ERA in his last 11 starts. And even much of that was due to bad luck, with opponents’ BAbip a robust .404, leading to a .350 batting average and .905 OPS against. His strikeouts were down (41 in 59 innings) and his walks were up (22 in 59 innings).

Clearly, he was not the same pitcher after he got hurt.

Phillies officials say Worley is completely healthy now, and a return to his 2011 and first-half 2012 numbers seems like an reasonable expectation.

Simply put, the guy is a good pitcher.

Not only that, he’s cheap, due for a slight race this year to about $800,000, most likely. He’s also under team control for a long time. His first year of arbitration isn’t until after next year, and the earliest he can become a free agent is 2018.

In Vance Worley, the Phillies have a cheap and effective pitcher who is under their control for another five years.

You don’t just give those away.

So when discussing Worley in any of these package deals, understand that this isn’t J.A. Happ the Phils are giving away. This is a real life starting pitcher, someone who will be difficult to replace.

That doesn’t mean the Phillies shouldn’t be shopping him right now. Trading Vance Worley for Ellsbury, Granderson, Choo, Willingham, and Upton would make perfect sense, and the Phils should absolutely pull the trigger if they can acquire any decent bat with pop (notice I did not include Dexter Fowler in that list).

But remember that Worley is a valuable commodity and should be looked upon as such. This is not a scrub.

Worley has a lot of value.

Probably more than you realized.