Landing Buerhle a Great Move
The Buerhle Deal
Much has been written about the Buerhle deal – some good observations but some really odd stuff as well, particularly in attempting to select Buerhle’s peers. I mean, selecting pitchers that posted a 4.50 ERA prior to 1993-94 is peculiar as a Buerhle peer. Moreover, Mark has thrown 1500+ innings since he entered the major leagues, and he’s only 28 this season. Looking at going forward, I want to select his peers – people who performed as Mark Buerhle has – not guys who didn’t perform as well as Mark Buerhle has in many fewer innings. That’s not terribly interesting.
So what has Mark Buerhle done? He’s thrown 1540 innings at an ERA+ of 123. Since I am going to be pulling data from the past, and Mark is in good shape to finish this season with 200 innings, we’ll make selecting his peers as 1500 IP through age 28 season. I also want to minimize era effects. The strike zones of the 60s really ate many pitchers arms up – Jim Maloney, Drysdale, and there weren’t nearly the corrective practices that are in place since the 1970s, with pitch count restrictions, arm surgeries and Tommy John too. That’s important because injuries that ended careers prior to about 1975 wouldn’t end careers anymore. It would be like saying John Smoltz’ career would be over about 5 years ago. He’s still pretty good.
I also want to allow for some players that haven’t performed quite as well as Buerhle – it’d be nice if he were near the middle of the pack (although closer to the bottom, since he hasn’t finished this year). Buerhle’s ERA+ is 123, so we’ll set the bar slightly lower – about 117. We can quibble with that.
Given those criteria and choosing slightly different ones is fine, as long as we still are attempting to paint an accurate picture of who Buerhle’s comps are. They have to be around for modern medicines. They have to have been durable from 20-28, and they have to have been really good with respect to the league in which he pitched.
Fortunately this type of “lookup” is simple because Sean Forman is one of the greatest men in the universe.
Running Play Index Pitching season Finder where the date range is 1973 to 2007, the age requirements are 20 to 28, 1500 IP and an ERA+ of 117 (95% of Buehrle’s present mark), we get som nice information.
Through age 28, these pitchers averaged 215 IP/season. Averages for the next few seasons look like this:
Year Pit Year Ag G GS IP
n+1 mb 2008 29 27 27 185.7
n+2 mb 2009 30 28 28 196.7
n+3 mb 2010 31 25 25 161.7
n+4 mb 2011 32 25 25 162.2
n+5 mb 2012 33 24 24 168.3
That’s right. Buerhle’s peers do see a drop off in IP initially as other looks have found. But it doesn’t continue to drop. It bounces backs some and then declines some, but each year is still producing a good year. And the ERA+ marks are in the 130 range.
Who are these guys that have produced like Buerhle has?
Derf. Pitchers like Mark Buerhle do not come along very often. He’s already demonstrated durability beyond the arm damage that “should have” happened. The odds that Buerhle will be very good over the next four seasons are very, very good. He’s easily going to be very good for four more seasons, and very likely five. Heck, he’s likely to be good for another ten. He’s the next generation’s best bet to win 300 games, and the key to being a successful GM is identifying the true stars that will decline atypically, and signing them relatively cheaply and enjoying the ride. Okay, the purer economics may not make it a great deal, but it’s going to get them a discount after four years if Buerhle continues on like his peers.
When doing analyses like this, you have to select your peers more carefully.
Posted: July 13, 2007 at 01:11 AM | 79 comment(s)
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