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DrungoHazewood

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Seriously, this is why stat guys like Silver need to stick to the major leagues and stay as far away from development as possible. It is absolutely silly in my opinion to think that pitchers don't improve after 21-22 or that pitching is not a skill.

Davearm has eloquently made most of the arguments I would make, but this could quite possibly be the silliest thing I've read.

I love you Jon, but you're waaaaaay off the mark here my friend. I don't see how anyone can suggest a 21 year kid is better off throwing 40-50 mop up innings in the major leagues instead of working on the things it will take to be a big league starter. Things like commanding three pitches, pitching without your best stuff, maintaining his stuff as his pitch counts goes up, picking up a routine for pitching every five days and learning how to set batters up.

I have a question for those of you who believe Mr. Silver's analysis, what measures is he using to systematically evaluate these pitchers in order to conclude "there is no systematic pattern of improvement after the age of 21 or so."

I hope he's not using stats in the minors, especially the low minors, because they are a tool, but you can not judge major league ability based SOLELY from them. Yes, statistical analysis can help in the total analysis of a player, but you can not judge a player just off his stats because he's playing against inferior players than major leaguers.

Ask Erik Bedard if he's a better pitcher now then when he was with Frederick? Does he throw harder? A little bit, but really he's learned to pitch better. He hits his spots better partly due to his muscle memory from repeated innings on the mound. I've seen Erik Bedard in Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie, and trust me, he's a better pitcher now. He has a much better changeup, and he his better command of his slider and fastball.

Maybe I'm missing the point of Mr. Silver's analysis, but I wholeheartedly reject his analysis that suggests pitching is not skill and pitchers don't improve after 21-years of age.

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Tony, it really looks to me like he's mainly talking about the rare Mike Mussina type(who comes out of college, spends a token few months in the minors and explode onto the scene young and are as good as they're going to get in their early 20's), and the guys who don't have good stuff and don't put up huge strikeout numbers in the minors that don't generally improve past age 21. The Bedard/Bailey/Erbe/Humber types who have good stuff and put up gaudy K numbers improve more often than not.

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Wow. Keeping the spirit of confusion and misinterpretation alive, I'll go double negative. The idea *is not* that location and changing speed are not learned skills (although the extent to which you likely think they are is likely inflated), but:

1) they are not skills that a pitching prospect is a certain to develop if he doesn't already possess them, and

2) they aren't skills that take years of repetition to develop, and most importantly

3) if they already are a pitching prospect they likely already possess these skills (meaning there isn't a whole lot of upside growth).

1) Wrong

2) Wrong

3) Wrong

Seriously, you can not possibly buy into this, can you?

There are plenty of pitching prospects in the low minors who will learn over time to improve their breaking ball or develop a change. You can't teach a good fastball, but you certainly can teach the other aspects of pitching and with the right muscle memory, a pitcher will continue to improve those pitches, either by improving the movement of the pitches, or the command of them through repetition and coaching.

I realize the guys who come up with these theories are probably pretty smart guys, and a lot of you who are buying into this hook line and sinker are smart guys as well, but you may want to think that the guys who have been developing pitchers for the last 30-40 years may know a a little something as well. Sometimes I really think some stat guys read Moneyball and now think every baseball professional is just some dumb jock who are so stupid because they don't bow down to the EQa and PECOTA Gods to do their evaluations.

I know it's hard to believe, but human beings are playing this game. They have feelings, react to pressure differently, learn through muscle memory and instruction, and mature both physically and mentally. To believe anything esle goes against simple psychology and biology.

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I realize the guys who come up with these theories are probably pretty smart guys, and a lot of you who are buying into this hook line and sinker are smart guys as well, but you may want to think that the guys who have been developing pitchers for the last 30-40 years may know a a little something as well. Sometimes I really think some stat guys read Moneyball and now think every baseball professional is just some dumb jock who are so stupid because they don't bow down to the EQa and PECOTA Gods to do their evaluations.

Is there any possible way I can make this my signature? A classic! Thanks Tony.:D

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Tony, it really looks to me like he's mainly talking about the rare Mike Mussina type(who comes out of college, spends a token few months in the minors and explode onto the scene young and are as good as they're going to get in their early 20's), and the guys who don't have good stuff and don't put up huge strikeout numbers in the minors that don't generally improve past age 21. The Bedard/Bailey/Erbe/Humber types who have good stuff and put up gaudy K numbers improve more often than not.

Why would anyone creat a thoery based off the rare elite player? Besides, I've already said that Bedard is a much better pitcher now then he was when he was 21-years old. Hell, if you don't believe me, look at his numbers in the major leagues. If Silver's thoery held any weight, pitchers would step into the major league and be dominant from the start.

No one can believe that the rare player like Doc Gooden, is the norm.

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This is another example of what he means when he says there's no systemic improvement:

Sometimes guys get better, of course, and sometimes they do so in a hurry — but you can’t take a young pitcher in a vacuum and expect him to improve the same way that you can for a hitting prospect. Mark Rogers (to pick on some low-hanging fruit) will probably never get his command sorted out, Yusemiro Petit will never add enough ticks to his fastball to become a useful major league starter, Gavin Floyd will never learn how to keep the ball down, and so forth. All of these things are possible — but they’re not very likely.

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Why would anyone creat a thoery based off the rare elite player? Besides, I've already said that Bedard is a much better pitcher now then he was when he was 21-years old. Hell, if you don't believe me, look at his numbers in the major leagues. If Silver's thoery held any weight, pitchers would step into the major league and be dominant from the start.

No one can believe that the rare player like Doc Gooden, is the norm.

Not just the rarities, but also the legions of prospects who fail, for whatever myriad reasons(no stuff, injury, uncoachable, etc.).

Overall, the point was that some of the guys destroying the minor leagues to the point where there is virtually no comparison could be as good as they're going to get, and that you can't count on incremental improvement from pitchers like you can from hitters.

There are certain types that improve post 21 more often than not - guys with stuff that strikeout a lot and aren't wild as Steve Dalkowski among them, but those guys are rarer than we think! Not every live-armed high school pitcher is Bailey and Erbe, quite a few are guys who never get their control down, never learn a good secondary offering, guys who have shoulder injuries and lose their stuff, etc.

Meanwhile, there's the Tim Lincecums and the Philip Hugheses and the like who could be as good as they're getting straight out of the gate.

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1. they are not skills that a pitching prospect is certain to develop if he doesn't already possess them
1) Wrong.

Tony, whether I agree with you in general or not - your response to this makes it appear like you didn't even read what was written. This isn't wrong - and can't possibly BE wrong. How can they be certain to develop anything?

Look, I'm going to take a different approach to this discussion. I think what he's saying is that top prospects only (often) have so many pitches in them. And, because their use can be structured such that they offer value to a major league team - even while young - there might not be any reason to fool around with them in the minors (where the risk of injury is high but where they have no value in terms of contributing wins).

This is, really, just an attempt to maximize value NOW because a lot of uncertainty exists about whether there ever WILL be a later.

It's a provocative theory - one that takes into account risk factors in pitching and attempts to maximize a prospects' value by not banking on a development that may not occur.

All you need to know is that if there's some potential value (in major league contribution to wins) in a prospect (at any age) then that value is wasted if the pitcher gets hurt in the minors. He's essentially saying teams should draw blood while there's still blood to be drawn.

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Not just the rarities, but also the legions of prospects who fail, for whatever myriad reasons(no stuff, injury, uncoachable, etc.).

Overall, the point was that some of the guys destroying the minor leagues to the point where there is virtually no comparison could be as good as they're going to get, and that you can't count on incremental improvement from pitchers like you can from hitters.

There are certain types that improve post 21 more often than not - guys with stuff that strikeout a lot and aren't wild as Steve Dalkowski among them, but those guys are rarer than we think! Not every live-armed high school pitcher is Bailey and Erbe, quite a few are guys who never get their control down, never learn a good secondary offering, guys who have shoulder injuries and lose their stuff, etc.

Meanwhile, there's the Tim Lincecums and the Philip Hugheses and the like who could be as good as their getting straight out of the gate.

I saw Lincecum in college last year out in Hawaii, and I said that he could pitch in the majors right then so we'll agree on that one. :)

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I have to fall on the Davearm, Tony-OH side of the ball on this one. I think that it not smart to think that a player does not improve with experience. There is the rare exception that throws lights out and can not think too much and still be successful, but this is the rare case, and at the very least bringing them to the ML might increase the chance of injury.

Look at Liriano. He comes to the bigs, and throws lights out. He's making the best hitters look like little leaguers. But to do it he is turning to speed rather than location. If he had stayed in the minors two things would have happened.

1. He wouldn't have to turn up the juice to get everyone out

2. He would be learning more about how hitters react to his pitchers. And subsequently how to get them out with less power.

I think pitchers learn in the minors. Things they can't learn in the majors.

1. They learn how to think, in HS or Latin America all these guys have to do is throw hard and get guys out. I would say that this cannot be totally learned in the ML, the minors has instructors who teach instead of coaches who adjust.

2. Young pitchers face young hitters in the minors. That means they are learning about the guys they are going to be facing for the majority of their careers.

3. You dont destroy sykes. Some guys just don't come back when they get rocked. The older a player is the more he understands the game.

These are just a few smaller argument. I believe the best ones have been made.

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1) they are not skills that a pitching prospect is a certain to develop if he doesn't already possess them, and

2) they aren't skills that take years of repetition to develop, and most importantly

3) if they already are a pitching prospect they likely already possess these skills (meaning there isn't a whole lot of upside growth).

I think #1 should read:

1) they are not skills that a pitching prospect is likely to develop if he doesn't already possess them

Yes? In this case, Tony's "wrong" makes a lot more sense.

I agree with him. There are LOTS of pitchers who have learned how to pitch in the minors and during the early part of their major league careers; there are very few pitchers who can come up & be as dominant as the several who are doing it now (perhaps this influx is what has led to Silver's, IMO, half-baked theory?). The particular danger with Silver's theory is that young pitchers who might continue to develop if given an opportunity won't be given that chance.

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Seriously, this is why stat guys like Solver need to stick to the major leagues and stay as far away from development as possible. It is absolutely silly in my opinion to think that pitchers don't improve after 21-22 or that pitching is not a skill.

Davearm has eloquently made most of the arguments I would make, but this could quite possibly be the silliest thing I've read.

I love you Jon, but you're waaaaaay off the mark here my friend. I don't see how anyone can suggest a 21 year kid is better off throwing 40-50 mop up innings in the major leagues instead of working on the things it will take to be a big league starter. Things like commanding three pitches, pitching without your best stuff, maintaining his stuff as his pitch counts goes up, picking up a routine for pitching every five days and learning how set batters up.

I have a question for those of you who believe Mr. Silver's analysis, what measures is he using to systematically evaluate these pitchers in order to conclude "there is no systematic pattern of improvement after the age of 21 or so."

I hope he's not using stats in the minors, especially the low minors, because they are a tool, but you can not judge major league ability based SOLELY from them. Yes, statistical analysis can help in the total analysis of a player, but you can not judge a player just off his stats because he's playing against inferior players than major leaguers.

Ask Erik Bedard if he's a better pitcher now then when he was with Frederick? Does he throw harder? A little bit, but really he's learned to pitch better. He hits his spots better partly due to his muscle memory from repeated innings on the mound. I've seen Erik Bedard in Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie, and trust me, he's a better pitcher now. He has a much better changeup, and he his better command of his slider and fastball.

Maybe I'm missing the point of Mr. Silver's analysis, but I wholeheartedly reject his analysis that suggests pitching is not skill and pitchers don't improve after 21-years of age.

I think you're drawing the wrong conclusion from this blurb. And I think there's a lot of truth to what he's saying.

I don't think the conclusion is (or should be) that 20-21 year old pitchers don't improve as they get older and more experience. Rather, I think the conclusion is that a pitcher's performance is more closely tied to 1: talent, and 2: his ability to remain healthy. I'll call these factors the God factor (since they're largely tied to genetics/god-given ability). Given these factors involved, it makes sense that there is no systematic pattern for improvement. This doesn't mean that all pitchers don't improve. It means that, based on the stastical analysis, we can't say for certain whether a pitcher will improve or not.

So what I draw from this blurb is that you need to evaluate each pitcher on a case-by-case basis. This means visual scouting, radar guns, videotape, etc.

I think Drungo is suggesting that we weigh a pitcher's potential for improvement against his risk of injury. There has to be a point where a pitcher's risk of future injury is greater than his potential for improvement. For these guys, maybe it's better to cash in on their value and stick them in long relief. This way, at least we get *something* out of their arms before they flame out. The application of this theory would be in mid ceiling guys who have performed well (Garrett Olson comes to mind) and pitchers with exceptional stuff that are an injury risk (I think Radhames Liz might fit this profile.)

I don't think Erbe fits this profile because he's not currently an injury risk, and he hasn't performed at a high enough level in the minors for me to confidently say that he won't pitch like Russ Ortiz in the Majors.

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Tony, whether I agree with you in general or not - your response to this makes it appear like you didn't even read what was written. This isn't wrong - and can't possibly BE wrong. How can they be certain to develop anything?

Look, I'm going to take a different approach to this discussion. I think what he's saying is that top prospects only (often) have so many pitches in them. And, because their use can be structured such that they offer value to a major league team - even while young - there might not be any reason to fool around with them in the minors (where the risk of injury is high but where they have no value in terms of contributing wins).

This is, really, just an attempt to maximize value NOW because a lot of uncertainty exists about whether there ever WILL be a later.

It's a provocative theory - one that takes into account risk factors in pitching and attempts to maximize a prospects' value by not banking on a development that may not occur.

All you need to know is that if there's some potential value (in major league contribution to wins) in a prospect (at any age) then that value is wasted if the pitcher gets hurt in the minors. He's essentially saying teams should draw blood while there's still blood to be drawn.

I don't understand Jim. Are you saying a pitcher can't develop a change up if he never had one when he was 21? Are you saying a pitcher can't improve his breaking ball after 21? I would disagree with both of those assessments. Velocity is the only thing that you can normally assess by the age of 21, although there are certainly cases where pitchers improve these numbers after the age of 21 as well.

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I think you're drawing the wrong conclusion from this blurb. And I think there's a lot of truth to what he's saying.

I don't think the conclusion is (or should be) that 20-21 year old pitchers don't improve as they get older and more experience. Rather, I think the conclusion is that a pitcher's performance is more closely tied to 1: talent, and 2: his ability to remain healthy. I'll call these factors the God factor (since they're largely tied to genetics/god-given ability). Given these factors involved, it makes sense that there is no systematic pattern for improvement. This doesn't mean that all pitchers don't improve. It means that, based on the stastical analysis, we can't say for certain whether a pitcher will improve or not.

So what I draw from this blurb is that you need to evaluate each pitcher on a case-by-case basis. This means visual scouting, radar guns, videotape, etc.

I think Drungo is suggesting that we weigh a pitcher's potential for improvement against his risk of injury. There has to be a point where a pitcher's risk of future injury is greater than his potential for improvement. For these guys, maybe it's better to cash in on their value and stick them in long relief. This way, at least we get *something* out of their arms before they flame out. The application of this theory would be in mid ceiling guys who have performed well (Garrett Olson comes to mind) and pitchers with exceptional stuff that are an injury risk (I think Radhames Liz might fit this profile.)

I don't think Erbe fits this profile because he's not currently an injury risk, and he hasn't performed at a high enough level in the minors for me to confidently say that he won't pitch like Russ Ortiz in the Majors.

Good God, if that's all he meant, then I agree. Pitchers with more talent and health will be more successful. I would hardly say this is a revelation though.

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I still disagree - I think the probability of a pitcher developing these things is difficult to quantify. And that it's impossible to say that the likelihood of developing them is greater than the likelihood that they won't. If you include the probability that a pitcher won't develop major-league caliber location/command and add to that possibility of injury - do we still assume that years in the minors (where no wins are contributed) are more valuable than what might be offered by that pitcher in the pros, now?

Even if he's not as good now as he would be then, the fact that the value offered now is real and quantifiable while the then remains entirely hypothetical points to some merit in what Silver is saying.

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