Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Saturday, March 09, 2013

McCoy: Prediction: Chapman will be closer

Tapping into that Hal McCoy knowledge…

A: On Sept. 1 the Reds are in a three-way tie for first place and Aroldis Chapman owns 19 wins. How will the fans react when it is announced Chapman is being shut down for the season? — Dave, Miamisburg/CentervilleBeavercreek

A: A lot of assumptions are in that question. First of all, it is tough to win 19 games out of the bullpen, which is where I believe Chapman will be. And by Sept. 1, the Reds will have a six-game lead in the National League Central. There isn’t one team in the division that can keep up with them, let alone two. And when Johnny Cueto has 19 wins, they won’t shut him down.

Q: If Aroldis Chapman makes the rotation, barring injury, where do you see the next opening in the rotation for Mike Leake. — Will, Independence, Ky.

A: If you’ve been listening and reading between the lines, manager Dusty Baker wants Chapman right where he was last year, right where he blew everybody away — as the closer. My prediction. No “ifs” about it. When the season opens Chapman will be back as closer and Leake will be in the rotation. If that isn’t the case, then I wonder if the Reds really are trying to win.

Q: Name the four best Reds first basemen you have covered and rank them? — Mike, Arlington, Va.

A: You’re trying to get Joey Votto mad at me, aren’t you? I’m going with Tony Perez as No. 1 because Votto is just beginning his career, but it is good enough for No. 2. Pete Rose doesn’t qualify. Didn’t play there enough. No. 3, for me, is Sean Casey. No. 4 is Dan Driessen, and I have to throw in a couple of honorable mentions in Hal Morris and Nick Esasky.

Repoz Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:13 AM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: reds

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1.   Posted: March 09, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4385011)
Imagine if the Expos and the Red Sox decided they wanted Pedro Martinez as a closer. Holy crap the numbers he would have put up. But he also would have been less valuable. This isn't very hard.
   2. jyjjy Posted: March 09, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4385016)
Given his issues with rest/overuse in his 30's I'm not so sure Pedro wouldn't have burned out quickly if used as a closer. Doing so may have relegated Pedro to a Gagnesque career.
   3. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 09, 2013 at 02:27 PM (#4385017)
Imagine if the Expos and the Red Sox decided they wanted Pedro Martinez as a closer. Holy crap the numbers he would have put up. But he also would have been less valuable. This isn't very hard.

Including Cuba, Chapman's next season as a good, consistent, durable starter would be his first.* Theoretically, his value is much higher as a starter, but it's not remotely a given that he can make the transition, especially at the ML level.


(* Maybe second, if you count Cuba's dead-ball year.)
   4. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 09, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4385018)
i agree joe, which is not to say that i wouldn't like to see the reds try it
   5. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 09, 2013 at 02:33 PM (#4385021)
It's a tough call. Trying Chapman as a starter again seems like a no-brainer from a long-term standpoint, but it's also a big gamble for the Reds, who clearly see 2013 as their year in the NL Central.

Making things more difficult, I'm not sure Cincinnati could count on Chapman immediately going back to being a lights-out reliever if he failed as a starter, which could turn 2013 into something of a lost year for him.
   6. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 09, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4385025)
agree on all of that as well
   7. Jim Wisinski Posted: March 09, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4385075)
Making things more difficult, I'm not sure Cincinnati could count on Chapman immediately going back to being a lights-out reliever if he failed as a starter, which could turn 2013 into something of a lost year for him.


It sure as hell didn't work out well for Daniel Bard in either aspect. Joba Chamberlain hasn't really done a whole lot either since they tried to transition him to starting.

Edit: Looking it up I see Chamberlain was actually very good in his partial season starting in 2008 after they switched him so there was some success; it didn't hold up for long though.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 06:39 PM (#4385096)
Edit: Looking it up I see Chamberlain was actually very good in his partial season starting in 2008 after they switched him so there was some success; it didn't hold up for long though.

He hurt his shoulder in Texas on August 4th.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: March 09, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4385114)
There are undoubtedly guys who aren't made out for starting but unless you've got a very good crystal ball to tell you which are which, the payoff from a good starter vs. a good reliever makes it clear you should try. Barring injury (which could happen anywhere anytime), the worst-case scenario is that you shift them back to the pen. Granted, as #5 points out, the Reds are at a spot where they'd certainly like to avoid giving 8-12 starts to a guy to find out.

Including Cuba, Chapman's next season as a good, consistent, durable starter would be his first.*

As opposed to the typical good, consistent, durable 20-year-old starters?





   10. KJOK Posted: March 09, 2013 at 07:18 PM (#4385134)
the Reds are at a spot where they'd certainly like to avoid giving 8-12 starts to a guy to find out.

So instead they give those starts to a pitcher who is obviously less talented, and they lose a bunch of games 8-2 while Chapman sits in the bullpen waiting to 'close' the game.

As a Cardinal fan, I approve.

   11. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 09, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4385146)
As opposed to the typical good, consistent, durable 20-year-old starters?

In the big leagues, or in lower-level leagues from which 20-year-old pitchers are drafted or signed? There aren't many of the former, but there are more than a few of the latter.

Chapman failed as a starter in 2010, and then he spent the next two years averaging a little less than an inning per appearance as a reliever. The confidence a lot of people seem to have in Chapman's ability to not only transition back to starter but to do so at the ML level is rather unexplained.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:21 PM (#4385193)
Chapman failed as a starter in 2010

Chapman has zero GS in MLB. How exactly did he "fail"?

The confidence a lot of people seem to have in Chapman's ability to not only transition back to starter but to do so at the ML level is rather unexplained.

Even if the odds are 25% he succeeds as a SP, and 75% he washes out of baseball in 2 years, they should try. Relievers are so volatile, and have such a short shelf life, that they have very little value.
   13. sinicalypse Posted: March 09, 2013 at 09:28 PM (#4385198)
I wouldn't do it, but then again I do understand the thinking that goes into this. If I'm not mistaken Aroldis signed for 6yrs/30mil with a lot of that being some sort of a bonus because from what I can tell he's making $1-2mil annually, which means that in the big picture having an aggregate $5mil/yr reliever is hardly any sort of financial albatross, or at least a situation where, say, you threw $100mil at the guy and if you kept him as a reliver, dominant or otherwise, you wouldn't be getting your money's worth. Not to mention, there is the preconception of Dusty Baker and his relation to his "horses" hearkening back to his treatment of the 03/04 Cubs "horses" who averaged up to ~120 pitches/start and would go on to have storied careers after their early success, especially Mark "Calfzilla" Prior, norse god of the thrown towel.

The two other recent high profile/velocity reliever/closer-to-starter cases, Neftali Feliz and Joba Chamberlain, don't necessarily have any sort of definitive "lesson" to be learned. One can easily argue that the injuries that befell Neftali could and/or would have happened anyways, and with Joba it's quite fair to say that his early dominance was eventually washed out by the league catching up with him as opposed to just being due to the move to starter. Regardless, Joba has had a couple'a nice seasons since his five-alarm debut in 2007, but nothing that really touches that early !!!!! he had going on.

I'm in the camp that thinks that since Aroldis wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire as a starter in 2010 and it took him a couple'a years to get into a groove where he was tapping into his potential, I'd be reticent to try and move him out of a role/situation where he's having success as good, if not better, than his peers in the role/situation. If Cincy has enough SP depth alongside their traditionally-mashing offense and you're in a NL Central that isn't exactly known as a collective of worldbeaters, I'd like to have that veritable exclamation point in my bullpen to drop in and say "F-YOU" to teams later on in games. However, I suppose the temptation of thinking "hey, if he's THAT dominant what if we could get that for 7 innings as opposed to ~1?" is probably too much to pass up, even tho I'm pretty sure he'll have some sort of nagging/injuries and he'll lose velocity and start maxing out circa 93mph (didn't he already have a period of velocity issues during last season?) and then you'll end up with a guy who can potentially be a solid SP, but will always be remembered for that little window of absolute dominance.

Godspeed, Dusty, godspeed! You've certainly got your horses so let's see you find new and exciting ways to choke in the playoffs! =D
   14. Walt Davis Posted: March 09, 2013 at 10:43 PM (#4385232)
So instead they give those starts to a pitcher who is obviously less talented, and they lose a bunch of games 8-2 while Chapman sits in the bullpen waiting to 'close' the game.

Well, such is the decision the Reds have to make and we shouldn't pretend that the uncertainty around that decision is so small as to make it an obvious choice. Almost any team would be happy to have Leake in their rotation and every team would love to have Chapman in their bullpen (where he supposedly delivered 3.6 WAR last year (between Arroyo and Latos in pitching WAR). How many more WAR can you expect a move of Chapman to the rotation to deliver vs. his role in the pen?

In the absence of much player-specific information, I'd put him in the rotation no questions asked. But if I had substantial doubts about his ability to transition, I might make the opposite decision (dependent on the alternatives I have at my disposal). It's all well and good for us to talk about the fungibility of relievers but this is a guy who (in his mere 135 career IP) has given up only 1 hit every other inning. That's not "standard issue closer", that's ... Carlos Marmol and Armando Benitez! :-)

All I'm saying is there's always something to be said for "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
   15. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: March 09, 2013 at 10:51 PM (#4385239)
Of course the trouble with "It ain't broke don't fix it" with respect to Chapman is you could wind up with a Joakim Soria situation. He gets injured nevertheless, you never maximized his trade value, and you look back on his career and say, "Jeez, this guy had one of the all-time great relief-ace seasons and still only managed 3.6 WAR in it" and you kind of rue your decision not to put the guy at a position where if he had an all-time great season there it might push the needle just a little bit more
   16. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 09, 2013 at 11:14 PM (#4385256)
Does Chapman's preference for relief matter here?

Even if the odds are 25% he succeeds as a SP, and 75% he washes out of baseball in 2 years, they should try. Relievers are so volatile, and have such a short shelf life, that they have very little value.

Dial it back a bit, snapper. :)
   17. PreservedFish Posted: March 10, 2013 at 12:50 AM (#4385323)
Even if the odds are 25% he succeeds as a SP, and 75% he washes out of baseball in 2 years, they should try. Relievers are so volatile, and have such a short shelf life, that they have very little value.


This seems exaggerated to me too.
   18. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: March 10, 2013 at 01:29 AM (#4385343)
Relievers are so volatile, and have such a short shelf life, that they have very little value.


OTOH, CIN beat their pythag by about 6 games last year, and having a lights-out closer is one of the most important factors to beating your pythag. OTGH, although very good, Aroldis wasn't exactly lights out last year...

Still, would almost rather see CIN keep him in the bullpen, just to see if that ridiculous pythag beat is repeatable.
   19. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4385450)
That's actually already dialed a notch back from his opinions in the Rivera threads where volatility and shelf life are unquestionably(and perhaps to a unique level) not an issue. Snapper essentially thinks all relievers are failed starters with intrinsically less talent with, "If they weren't why wouldn't they be starting?" as seemingly his only real justification. Curiously that Ray is totally onboard with this doesn't give him pause.
   20. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4385460)
Snapper essentially thinks all relievers are failed starters with intrinsically less talent with, "If they weren't why wouldn't they be starting?" as seemingly his only real justification. Curiously that Ray is totally onboard with this doesn't give him pause.

I think this too...except for Hoyt Wilhelm who could have been a great starter. I can't think of a single other reliever who wasn't either a failure or really brittle as a starter. I guess Eckersley wasn't a terrible starter when he was converted but he wasn't great any more either.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:31 AM (#4385464)
That's actually already dialed a notch back from his opinions in the Rivera threads where volatility and shelf life are unquestionably(and perhaps to a unique level) not an issue. Snapper essentially thinks all relievers are failed starters with intrinsically less talent with, "If they weren't why wouldn't they be starting?" as seemingly his only real justification. Curiously that Ray is totally onboard with this doesn't give him pause.

Forgive me if, 5 months removed from seeing a 35 y.o. Fernando Rodney throw up one of the greatest closing seasons of all time, one year after 35 y.o. Kyle Freaking Farnsworth was an excellent closer (173 ERA+) for the same team, I don't think there's anything particularly rare or scarce about the ability to succeed as a 1-inning RP.
   22. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4385473)
Apart from the o, 100-200 other relievers that don't pitch that well every year you mean? Including the very guys you mentioned?

EDIT: You are confusing the prevalence of outliers when looking at small sample sizes (a single reliever season always being such) with there being no signal beyond the noise, even when you add enough data that it is obviously not true in a mathematical sense.
   23. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4385488)
I think this too...except for Hoyt Wilhelm who could have been a great starter. I can't think of a single other reliever who wasn't either a failure or really brittle as a starter. I guess Eckersley wasn't a terrible starter when he was converted but he wasn't great any more either.

The topic is covered extensively in the recent Rivera retirement threads if you are actually interested.
   24. PreservedFish Posted: March 10, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4385528)
Forgive me if, 5 months removed from seeing a 35 y.o. Fernando Rodney throw up one of the greatest closing seasons of all time, one year after 35 y.o. Kyle Freaking Farnsworth was an excellent closer (173 ERA+) for the same team, I don't think there's anything particularly rare or scarce about the ability to succeed as a 1-inning RP.


Quick snapper, who is next year's Fernando Rodney? You can't predict these performances. All this comment is stating is "funny things happen in small samples."
   25. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4385539)
Quick snapper, who is next year's Fernando Rodney?

Mo is the only deserving answer to any of the ways to take that question.Though 43 and coming off a missed year... He has defied nearly all expected decline/inconsistencies(does his post season performance count as an "inconsistency" at this point?) thus far but I guess this will be a real test of his ability to do so.
   26. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4385546)
Quick snapper, who is next year's Fernando Rodney? You can't predict these performances. All this comment is stating is "funny things happen in small samples."

And you can't tell me which "established closer" is going to be next year's Jose Valverde, or Carlos Marmol, or Heath Bell, or Brian Wilson. Don't pretend "established closers" are consistent performers.

TB has a very good pen every year while spending very, very little. So does Oakland. It is easy enough to assemble 8-10 live arms who have potential to have good to great seasons, and exploit the ones who do. As long as you're not married to titles like "closer" and "8th inning guy" or locked in to big contracts. Team after team has an "established closer" go down and just plugs in another good RP, and doesn't miss a beat. Like the World Champions.

The issue is not small sample size, it's the inherent volatility of RP. That's the only reason we even discuss Rivera for the HoF; because he's one of a tiny, tiny handful of elite relievers that could sustain it for a career.

If Chapman can make it as a SP, he has a really good chance of being an excellent player for 10 years. As a reliever, his expected career is much shorter.
   27. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4385570)
As a reliever, his expected career is much shorter.

I don't understand snapper. Why would The Easiest Pitching Role Ever that any competent starter could pull off shorten their career?
   28. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4385572)
The topic is covered extensively in the recent Rivera retirement threads if you are actually interested.

Thanks.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4385573)
The two other recent high profile/velocity reliever/closer-to-starter cases, Neftali Feliz and Joba Chamberlain, don't necessarily have any sort of definitive "lesson" to be learned


Why must it by high profile as the only cases we would look at? Transitioning from reliever to starter is not that uncommon, and has been used with success for most of the history of baseball. Now if you are saying established reliver/closer, then that is slightly different, but it's not unusual for a quality pitcher to spend a season or two as a reliever before becoming a starter, including Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. It is a little unusual for an established reliever(2+ seasons as a reliever to transition to a starting pitcher though, except in your weird cases like John Smoltz or Derek Lowe) Best examples of guys who spent a season as a reliever before being given a starting job is Wainwright and Johan Santana(although he did get spot starts).

That's actually already dialed a notch back from his opinions in the Rivera threads where volatility and shelf life are unquestionably(and perhaps to a unique level) not an issue. Snapper essentially thinks all relievers are failed starters with intrinsically less talent with, "If they weren't why wouldn't they be starting?" as seemingly his only real justification. Curiously that Ray is totally onboard with this doesn't give him pause.


I'm with Snapper and Ray? Not all are failed starters of course, but I fully expect that an average starter major league starter put into a closers role would almost instantly be the class of the league.
Why would The Easiest Pitching Role Ever that any competent starter could pull off shorten their career?


It's easier to perform at a higher level, but it also has a tendency to shred arms.
   30. PreservedFish Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:14 PM (#4385575)
If Chapman can make it as a SP, he has a really good chance of being an excellent player for 10 years. As a reliever, his expected career is much shorter.


I would really like to see some evidence of this.

It's easier to perform at a higher level, but it also has a tendency to shred arms.


Is this conventional stathead wisdom that I missed? I have never heard this, ever.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:26 PM (#4385582)
Is this conventional stathead wisdom that I missed? I have never heard this, ever.


Really? I guess it's just seems like that is the case, you don't have many relievers enjoying more than a 6+ year career as an above average reliever, not at the same rate that you do as starters, even with a season losing injury in there.

But I'm not sure how to prove something like that. As relievers are often barely hanging onto their jobs, and any drop in performance gets them bouncing around the league. K-rod is having the career ark that is slightly longer than typical for closers, but it's about what to expect from relievers.

   32. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:32 PM (#4385585)
I'm with Snapper and Ray? Not all are failed starters of course, but I fully expect that an average starter major league starter put into a closers role would almost instantly be the class of the league.

What are your thoughts on tango's "Rule of 17" in that case?

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/rule_of_17/

A lot of people seem to think we don't have any real idea what reliever advantage is but that it is simply gigantic apparently. The research says 17%. Large but nothing that supports Snapper or Rays or even your lesser claim here.
   33. bigboy1234 Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4385595)
OTOH, CIN beat their pythag by about 6 games last year, and having a lights-out closer is one of the most important factors to beating your pythag. OTGH, although very good, Aroldis wasn't exactly lights out last year...

Still, would almost rather see CIN keep him in the bullpen, just to see if that ridiculous pythag beat is repeatable.

He wasn't lights out last year? You are like, joking, right? I mean it wasn't '12 Kimbrel or '03 Gagne, but that is setting the bar quite high and he was probably right below that tier.

I can't believe anybody who wants to see the Reds suceed think it's a better idea to keep him in the bullpen.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4385596)
A lot of people seem to think we don't have any real idea what reliever advantage is but that it is simply gigantic apparently. The research says 17%. Large but nothing that supports Snapper or Rays or even your lesser claim here.


17% is pretty large. Isn't the platoon difference for a left handed batter around 9%?

On top of that, the research is mostly filled with performances of players who are probably by definition lesser than quality starters. The 17% is the adjustment you would make to compare the players performance against the average. It's not a hard and fast rule about the performances of when a player changes roles. It is a great piece of evidence that replacement for relievers has to be considered higher than replacement for starters when figuring out closers.

   35. greenback calls it soccer Posted: March 10, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4385597)
I can't believe anybody who wants to see the Reds suceed think it's a better idea to keep him in the bullpen.


Sleepy is a Cardinals fan. Although he wasn't a big Rasmus fan, so maybe he has been faking it.
   36. Nasty Nate Posted: March 10, 2013 at 03:08 PM (#4385606)
He wasn't lights out last year? You are like, joking, right? I mean it wasn't '12 Kimbrel or '03 Gagne, but that is setting the bar quite high and he was probably right below that tier.


He had his share of blown saves and losses (some or complete overlap), so his dominance and stinginess wouldn't be what explains the Reds outplaying their pythag record.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: March 10, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4385609)
I can't believe anybody who wants to see the Reds suceed think it's a better idea to keep him in the bullpen.


I don't think it's obvious either way, at least for the 2013 Reds. They have 5 other healthy and strong starters. Chapman, by bWAR and fWAR, was a 3.5ish win player in the bullpen last year. Starters around the same number: Jordan Zimmerman, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Dempster, Kyle Lohse. Nobody would be surprised to see him basically match his WAR number as a starter, or fall short of it.

I want to see him start* because I think it's cool for baseball to see if he can throw 102 as a starter, and I agree that the Reds ought to find out if he's capable of starting, because he is potentially a more valuable pitcher as a starter.

*I don't want to see him start because I just picked up Mike Leake for peanuts in a keeper league.
   38. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 10, 2013 at 03:39 PM (#4385623)
Chapman has zero GS in MLB. How exactly did he "fail"?

By being so inconsistent in the minors as a starter that he was moved to the bullpen, where he was left for the next two and a half seasons.

Chapman has been dominant in the big leagues by throwing 100 mph in mostly one-inning appearances. He's not going to sustain 100 mph for 5 to 7 innings, and he lacks a third pitch.

It's not like Chapman was the 2003 version of Jose Contreras, who had been an elite starter for a decade but found himself the odd man out in a veteran, mostly star-studded rotation in New York. Chapman's still looking for his first 100-inning season as a quality starter, and the assumption that he can jump back into the rotation and accomplish such a thing on the fly in the majors is incredibly optimistic, almost to the point of being cavalier.
   39. jyjjy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4385632)
The 17% is the adjustment you would make to compare the players performance against the average.

Well sure and your claim was an average starter should be fully expected to be a top closer in that role. 17% doesn't really do that and you seem to be making the mistake I'm complaining about with others; you are applying the 17% then coming up with things I guess you think tango didn't consider to assume it is really even more.
   40. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 10, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4385655)
I'd kinda like to see Chapman in an old school fireman role, going 1-3 innings at a time, maybe stretching into 100 IP this year, then maybe converting to a starter next year with limited innings to say 160.
   41. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4385665)
I do think the importance of a quality third pitch for a starter is somewhat overstated. Not nil, just... overstated.
Chapman's relative lack of control and endurance within a start (though that could be a function of usage) also point to his being more optimally a reliever, all thing equal (note: things are never equal). The available of options like Leake (and where we are on the calendar) also suggests that replacement level, in this scenario, is above 0 WAR - which further moderates a potential advantage from using him in the rotation.
Again, I'd like to see Cincinnati try it, but I'd understand why they wouldn't. (And, imo, they won't.)
   42. cardsfanboy Posted: March 10, 2013 at 05:31 PM (#4385686)
Well sure and your claim was an average starter should be fully expected to be a top closer in that role. 17% doesn't really do that and you seem to be making the mistake I'm complaining about with others; you are applying the 17% then coming up with things I guess you think tango didn't consider to assume it is really even more.


Not sure what you mean. The study you pointed to showed how relievers perform relative to starters. It doesn't say one thing about the performance of starters who are converted to the pen, except to say that you start at comparing the baseline at 17% better.

If the league average era for starters was 3.00, then the league average era for relievers would be 2.49(17% better). If you are a 100 Fip era+(3.00) starting pitcher, and you were converted to a reliever, you would be expected to post a 2.49 based simply on the factors that he figured in(one time through the lineup, pitching when it's colder, no need to pace etc) That puts a 100 era+ pitcher in the range of 120 era+ pitcher. And that is going by the assumption that the average reliever is the same quality as the average starter. Other words, Tangos study takes the entire group of relievers and compares them to the entire group of starters and comes up with the 17% performance improvement by virtue of being relievers. It doesn't factor in the relative quality difference between pitchers, when it's more than likely that the average starter is a higher quality pitcher than the average reliever. Which is why I think if you are an average starter and converted to reliever you are going to be among the better relievers in the game.


   43. Walt Davis Posted: March 10, 2013 at 09:34 PM (#4385951)
A lot of people seem to think we don't have any real idea what reliever advantage is but that it is simply gigantic apparently. The research says 17%. Large but nothing that supports Snapper or Rays or even your lesser claim here.

Partly covered by cfb but also because this is looking at the whole population of relievers, not the 1-inning guys.

Good starters are almost NEVER transitioned to the pen barring injury. So the guys who go to the pen are, at best, (perceived to be) average starters. (I'm putting aside young guys who are put in the pen to break them in and keep their innings down a la Pedro and Santana. I don't imagine including them either way makes much difference.)

From 2010-2012 there have been 225 seasons of 100% relief and 60-80 IP. The median ERA+ is 132 about 35-40 points higher than the average starter ERA+. That is roughly an ERA of 3.00, about 25% lower than the average starter ERA.

Now by putting a bottom limit on the IP, I'm selecting for the guys who succeeded. So let's replace the innings limits with the criteria that IP < 1.2*G. There have been 917 such seasons over the last 3 years and that's where you get the ERA+ of 110 as the median which, give or take, meets the rule of 17.

So, shockingly enough, many failed starters also fail as relievers. You noticed I hope that we went from 225 seasons to over 900. Teams are doing exactly what Snapper says they're doing -- trying a guy for 10 innings and discarding if he's struggling. I don't have a clue who Dusty Hughes is but I know that 79 of his 80 ML appearances have been in relief yet he has a career gmLI under 1. He pitches nothing but garbage time -- he's not a guy we want in any comp list that will tell us about starters transitioning to leveraged relievers, he's just a replacement level pitcher.

Looking at 2010-12 ccmbined, Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty are blowing Mo out of the water with ERA+ of 269 and 246 with over 150 IP the last 3 seasons. Given the Braves also have Venters at 175 and had one season of Wagner at 275, it appears they have little problem finding dominant short-inning relievers. Texas has also been good about laying their hands on (but not keeping long-term) these guys -- Ross, Adams, Oliver, Uehera, O'Day, all 173 or higher.

Look at some of these names. Oliver was given up for dead. Ayala at ages 33-34 posted a 177. Uehara from 35-37 put up a 184. I don't know who Jared Burton is but he just had his second season of 185 and is at 140 for his "career." As we know, Eck seemed on his way out the door as a starter (although he was a good candidate for a bounce back) and from 32-37 put up a 178 with a CYA/MVP.

Old guys who are too sore or too bad to start anymore, minor-league journeymen, guys who don't make the majors until 25-26. That's where relievers come from. Even Mo didn't make the majors until 25. From ages 22-24 Mo's minor-league K-rate was about 6.5/9. In the majors at 25 it was 6.9 then it jumped to 11 in relief (followed by 8.5 then back to the high 6s then jumped over 9). Everything about these guys, even the elite ones, tells us they were nowhere near the most talented pitchers around. Wagner made the majors at 24, Hoffman not until 25 and he wasn't consistently good until 28, Nathan at 28.

Yes, this is changing and we are seeing more guys like KRod, Street, Kimbrel, etc. at younger ages and developed as relievers. Teams seem increasingly reluctant to move their successful Pedro/Santana break-ins (Papelbon, Chapman) into the rotation which puts more talent in the pen. It's a little harder to say that these guys are less talented than their starting counterparts. But for the existing history of the 1-inning reliever, we are clearly talking about less talented and/or injured guys.

Note, that's not about Rivera really. One can obviously make the case that Rivera has been so consistently outstanding that he is one of the most talented pitchers of his era. I don't quite buy it but obviously that argument can't be dismissed out of hand, especially if our comp is a 100 ERA+ starter. I'm willing to consider that Mo's 1200 innings are as good as the best 4-5 seasons of, say, Kevin Brown's career.

But we have tons and tons and tons of evidence that short relief is comparatively very easy. It has been reserved for old guys and guys who can't make the majors until age 26 or later.

And it may be getting easier. When I looked at this about 10 years ago, using a start/relief split like Tango's, the gap was only about 9% (2% of which Tango figured was due to the fact that ERA is not a good fit for relievers). But the gap for short relievers (if I recall right) was about 20%. Now the standard gap is the "rule of 17" and the "real reliever" gap might be more on the order of 25-30? That's a sign more talent is being shifted to the pen and it is a lot easier.

In his first 6 years, K-Rod posted a 187 ERA+. Using the rule of 17 suggests his starter ERA+ would have been on the order of 150-160. Halladay's best season was 167. K-Rod has run into a bit of trouble since then but has still managed a 122 ERA+ with a K/9 pushing 10 so he'd be ... Anibal Sanchez as a starter? Kimbrel is K'ing 15 guys per 9, are we to believe he'd be K'ing about 13/9 if he was a starter? I'm pretty sure the Braves aren't that dumb.

And finally there's money. Top relievers (i.e. Mo) get paid $15 M per year and usually the best ones are capped around $12 or lower. That's about a half-Greinke.
   44. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 10, 2013 at 10:15 PM (#4385967)
Chapman has zero GS in MLB. How exactly did he "fail"?

By being so inconsistent in the minors as a starter that he was moved to the bullpen, where he was left for the next two and a half seasons.


Not entirely true. The Reds surprisingly found themselves in contention in 2010, so they called him up in late August to help in the bullpen. Had they not been in contention it's unlikely they would have tinkered with his development as a starter. He wasn't coming up against an innings limit.

The Reds' mistake was not recommitting to Chapman in the rotation in 2011. They had six other starters, but all were disappointments save for Cueto.
   45. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 10, 2013 at 11:16 PM (#4386000)
Not entirely true. The Reds surprisingly found themselves in contention in 2010, so they called him up in late August to help in the bullpen. Had they not been in contention it's unlikely they would have tinkered with his development as a starter. He wasn't coming up against an innings limit.

Perhaps, but they moved him to the bullpen in late June and didn't bring him up until late August. Despite what the Reds might have said, it's hard to imagine they thought Chapman was on track to become a dominant ML starter but moved him to the 'pen just to have an extra reliever available, especially given the Reds' less-than-dominant rotation that year. More likely, the Reds saw that Chapman wasn't ready to start in the big leagues and wanted to start getting some ROI on the $36M they gave him (which, while actually worth less than $36M due to deferred money, was still a major investment for Cincy).

The Reds' mistake was not recommitting to Chapman in the rotation in 2011. They had six other starters, but all were disappointments save for Cueto.

I'm not sold on Chapman as a starter in general, but I thought the Reds erred by sending him to 3A to start 2010. He would have been better off away from the spotlight in 2A or even High-A, where he could have worked on command and a third pitch, and done so without being distracted by being one level away from the ML.
   46. jyjjy Posted: March 11, 2013 at 07:41 AM (#4386067)
Good starters are almost NEVER transitioned to the pen barring injury.

I believe this to be dramatically untrue for the last few decades. I believe plenty of pitchers that have systematically denied the chance to develop into good starters because they have been transitioned to relief at a point before their eventual possible ability as a starter has been remotely fully explored. I believe this to be a very obvious, public and ongoing issue resulting from baseball media, management and fans in general overvaluing relievers and closers specifically. I really don't understand how someone like yourself can think otherwise to the point that you use it to assume our best statistical analysis of the subject is flawed in a way OPPOSITE of how it actually IS flawed as tango points out in that rule of 17 link when he says this;

"a failed starter turned into a reliever will, by selective sampling, “improve” because he was unlucky to have failed as a starter to begin with, more likely than no"

Your consistent use of short term anecdotal evidence to discuss a role intrinsically built on small sample sizes I find the opposite of convincing or impressive.
   47. Honkie Kong Posted: March 11, 2013 at 08:30 AM (#4386078)
One thing I wanted to mention regarding the longevity of relievers. As has been mentioned earlier in the thread, relievers tend to be failed starters or journeymen.
So they cannot afford another drop in their level of performance ( be it stuff or control ) and be as successful as before.
Secondly, relief pitchers might have the highest replacement level in baseball. There are always a few failed starters and transitioning journeymen in the minors.
So even a partially ineffective season might mean that you are discarded for the latest phenom.
And now with the proliferation of pitchers drafted as relief pitchers, the replacement level is just getting higher.

Which is why a career like Rivera/Hoffman/Wagner is significant, as they maintained their performance level through a lot of years and issues.
   48. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: March 12, 2013 at 12:35 AM (#4386720)
He wasn't lights out last year? You are like, joking, right? I mean it wasn't '12 Kimbrel or '03 Gagne, but that is setting the bar quite high and he was probably right below that tier.

Mostly, I was trying to ward off the "but he had five blown saves and a loss last year" comment by qualifying my "lights-out closer" remark. Wasn't meant to be an insult, but the point is, he DID have five blown saves last year. To put that in perspective, Jason Motte also had five blown saves, saved more games, was 4-5 instead of 5-5, and no one is really considering him "lights out". He's "acceptable". And awesome, because he's slightly crazy, has a ginormous natural red beard, and talks to his glove.

Anyway, yes, I think it's an open question whether the reds will be better with Chapman starting or relieving. It'll definitely be an interesting experiment, either way.

And to the other dude, I never harbored any ill will towards rasmus, other than the fact that I made a point of observing him during Spring training, 2009, was massively disappointed by what appeared to be a half-assed effort, and went on record saying he wasn't ready for MLB, and even if he was ready, it would do him well to spend some additional time in the minors to let him develop. And then didn't give him any benefit of the doubt for "bad luck", after. At the time, I was concerned he would turn into Cory Patterson (seriously, that was the comp I used, prior to the freakish age-23 spike both experienced). And then kind of reacted a bit to the predictable backlash on STL forums, including the interesting bit where the dude's loser dad got involved.

I honestly hope Colby does well, in the future, and hey- replica rings shine forever, and without Dotel, there's no way STL wins that WS :)
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: March 12, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4387087)
Mostly, I was trying to ward off the "but he had five blown saves and a loss last year" comment by qualifying my "lights-out closer" remark.


Most of that was before June 24th, after that, I wouldn't hesitate to say he was lights out. (Of course that is almost half of his appearances, realisitically if you remove June 7th-24th out of the equation, he was lights out---in that time frame he made 7 appearances, pitched 6.1 innings allowed 8 of his 12 earned runs for the year, posted an 0-4 record as he blew 3 saves)
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: March 17, 2013 at 08:38 PM (#4390151)
"The truth is, if they were to make the decision, I would want to be the closer," Chapman said, "but it's not in my hands."

Chapman said he relishes the role of closer because of the rush of pitching in the ninth inning. Baker said he'd planned to speak with Chapman about it after he'd pitched.

"You hear all kinds of stuff. You hear it from his camp. You hear it from people talking and everybody thinks they're in the know," Baker said after the game. "We are going to do what's best for the team and for him. But it makes it a lot easier when you get the person's blessing."


Interesting comments from Chapman. Given that, plus the other issues raised above, I'd probably be inclined to leave him in the pen. Of course, I'm only a year removed from living through the Daniel Bard Experience, so I'm probably less likely to pull the trigger on the short reliever to starter moves at the moment.
   51. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 17, 2013 at 09:59 PM (#4390176)
He's said it before, hence my 16 above.
   52. Squash Posted: March 18, 2013 at 01:47 AM (#4390336)
"The truth is, if they were to make the decision, I would want to be the closer," Chapman said, "but it's not in my hands."

If I was breaking in a young pitcher in the bullpen with the intention of turning them into a starter I would never make them into a closer. Middle relief all the way. Pitchers hardly ever want to stop being a closer and rightfully so. Who wouldn't want to be a closer? You're a big star, you're paid incredibly well, by nature of the job you're pretty much only in when the team's winning the game, you go out there and light up the radar gun for 15 pitches, they shake your hand at the end, etc. Who the hell would want to stop doing that? The Twins did it right with Santana.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14!
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8-28-2014
(57 - 1:25am, Aug 29)
Last: PeteF3

NewsblogRingolsby: Pete Incaviglia paying dues as independent league manager
(12 - 1:20am, Aug 29)
Last: zonk

NewsblogBusiness Week: Houston Astros' Jeff Luhnow Lets Data Reign
(3 - 1:13am, Aug 29)
Last: Weratych

NewsblogPosnanski: Alex Gordon and the M-V-P chants
(25 - 1:10am, Aug 29)
Last: DKDC

NewsblogAfter awkward attempt at game-saving catch, Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki gets testy with reporters
(3 - 1:07am, Aug 29)
Last: DKDC

NewsblogJonny Venters Tears UCL, Facing Third Tommy John Surgery
(2 - 12:52am, Aug 29)
Last: CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck

NewsblogDavid Justice Says Put Barry Bonds in Baseball Hall of Fame Despite Steroid Use Late In Career
(145 - 12:42am, Aug 29)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogMets call up Dilson Herrera, have "talked about" d'Arnaud to LF
(3 - 12:42am, Aug 29)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogJack White, Eddie Vedder, and Paul Simon take in a Seattle Mariners game
(148 - 12:14am, Aug 29)
Last: Greg K

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - August 2014
(364 - 11:48pm, Aug 28)
Last: RollingWave

NewsblogMcCoy: Bryan Price sees throwback style in current state of baseball
(8 - 11:42pm, Aug 28)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread August, 2014
(770 - 11:39pm, Aug 28)
Last: Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman

NewsblogOT: Politics, August 2014: DNC criticizes Christie’s economic record with baseball video
(6027 - 11:29pm, Aug 28)
Last: Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip

NewsblogFG: A Good Reason To Watch Yusmeiro Petit Pitch
(15 - 11:25pm, Aug 28)
Last: SoSHially Unacceptable

NewsblogBrooklyn Cyclones, Nickelodeon to host '90s night
(30 - 10:49pm, Aug 28)
Last: bigglou115

Page rendered in 0.8430 seconds
52 querie(s) executed