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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Megdal: Mike Minor has suddenly become an ace in Atlanta

Minor threat: Guilty of being a brave (covers up neck)

What Minor is on pace to do is post the best season any Braves starter has logged in quite some time. His ERA+ of 138 is equal to Tim Hudson’s mark in 2010, his best as a Brave, and was last bettered by Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez in 2009. To find a Braves starter before that better than Minor’s pitched this season, you have to go back to John Smoltz, 2007.

Minor expressed gratitude that the Braves were so patient with him.

“It showed a lot from those guys to stick me out there, start after start after start,” Minor said. “I look back on it, and I think, I don’t know if I’d be able to do that… I guess they saw something in me, and they were sticking with me for a while.”

Everybody sees now what the Braves saw, even Minor, a year after he had nothing to lose. And what does he think that coaching staff he worried, correctly, was preparing to replace him thinks now?

“Hopefully they’re thinking, don’t mess with this guy,” Minor said with a small chuckle. “Just let him pitch, let him run his course. ‘Cause we know he can win.”

Repoz Posted: May 26, 2013 at 09:20 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves

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   1. bfan Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4452378)
please explain this:

kershaw

73.1 (IP) 42 (H) 14 (R) 11 (ER) 18 (W) 72 (SO) 3.3 (WAR) 0.82 (WHIP)

minor:

65.2 (IP) 47 (H) 18 (R) 18 (ER) 14 (W) 61 (SO) 1.8 (WAR) 0.93 (WHIP)

how does that translate to a war of nearly double?
   2. billyshears Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:13 AM (#4452379)
Well, Minor's ERA is nearly double that of Kershaw. Doesn't strike me as that out of whack.
   3. Barnaby Jones Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4452383)
What Minor is on pace to do is post the best season any Braves starter has logged in quite some time. His ERA+ of 138 is equal to Tim Hudson’s mark in 2010, his best as a Brave, and was last bettered by Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez in 2009. To find a Braves starter before that better than Minor’s pitched this season, you have to go back to John Smoltz, 2007.


Literally just last year the Braves had 2 starters (Beachy and Medlen) do better than this for longer. Granted, they just didn't pitch full seasons, but they had comfortably more innings than Minor has thrown this year. It's way too early to be talking about "on pace" in any meaningful way. I'm loving Mike Minor this year, but this description does a pretty bad job of contextualizing his performance.
   4. bfan Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4452386)
I thought WAR was based on hits, walks HRs and the like; their runs allowed are not that different. Here i the starter the Minor is 1.5 WAR up on (as opposed to down 1.5 WAR to):

58.0 (IP) 64 (H) 31 (R) 29 (ER) 21 (W) 43 (SO) 3 (HR) 0.3 (WAR) 1.47 (WHIP)

That line looks very different than Minor's.
   5. Barnaby Jones Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4452388)
please explain this:

kershaw

73.1 (IP) 42 (H) 14 (R) 11 (ER) 18 (W) 72 (SO) 3.3 (WAR) 0.82 (WHIP)

minor:

65.2 (IP) 47 (H) 18 (R) 18 (ER) 14 (W) 61 (SO) 1.8 (WAR) 0.93 (WHIP)

how does that translate to a war of nearly double?


Kershaw has an advantage in many different parts of the WAR calculation:

K vs. M (+ means "better")

IP: +12%
R: +22%
RA9opp: +0.82 (i.e., Kershaw has faced waaay tougher offenses).
RA9def: +0.07 (i.e., Kershaw has had a little less defensive help)

What it boils down to is Kershaw is being compared to a baseline "average pitcher" with a 4.53 ERA, whereas Minor is being compared to a baseline pitcher with a 4.14 ERA. And he's pitched more and better innings in that context.
   6. Barnaby Jones Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4452390)
I thought WAR was based on hits, walks HRs and the like; their runs allowed are not that different. Here i the starter the Minor is 1.5 WAR up on (as opposed to down 1.5 WAR to):


To oversimplify, the pitching WAR on bb-ref is mainly a function of IP and Runs, with adjustments figured in for team defense, park factors, strength of opposition, etc. Hits, walks, and the like aren't directly a part of the calculation except as they affect innings pitched and runs allowed. It doesn't matter how you prevent the runs, as long as they are prevented.

Fangraphs, which bases their pitching WAR on FIP (ergo, on BB, HR, and K), has them much closer at 1.2 for Minor and 2.0 for Kershaw.
   7. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4452398)
Literally just last year the Braves had 2 starters (Beachy and Medlen) do better than this for longer. Granted, they just didn't pitch full seasons, but they had comfortably more innings than Minor has thrown this year. It's way too early to be talking about "on pace" in any meaningful way. I'm loving Mike Minor this year, but this description does a pretty bad job of contextualizing his performance.


This is true, but misleading. Minor's put together a "full season" of this level of performance, split over two campaigns. Minor was overmatched in his first call up (40 innings in 2010) and pedestrian in his first full season (ERA of 4.14, ERA+ of 93 over 15 starts in 2011.) And he was pretty much abysmal in the first half of 2012. As the fifth starter, over the course of his first 10 starts last year, he posted an ERA of 6.98 and rarely lasted six innings. But in June of that year, something clicked*. From his 11th start of 2012, on June 7*, over the course of his last 20 starts of 2012, he posted an ERA of 2.74 and held batters to a slash line of .203/.266/.347. He became a completely different pitcher, and he has carried that more dominant form over into 2013.

That's 121+ innings of 2.74 to close out 2012, followed immediately by 65+ innings of 2.47 to open 2013. 187 innings of 2.60ish ERA is not something to write off as a fluke, IMHO. It is more impressive than, say, Kris Medlen's run to close 2012 (which was a fluke and hasn't been replicated in 2013, as the league has started to sit on his changeup and make him be perfect with it.)

*If you're wondering what "clicked" in those last 20 or so starts, it's anecdotal, but I'll argue all day long and twice on Sunday that the primary driver of Mike Minor "putting it all together" in the second half of 2012 was the call up of Andrelton Simmons on June 2, replacing Tyler Pastornicky. Pastornicky was _abysmal_ as a defensive shortstop, and Simmons is the complete opposite, and the difference seems to have convinced Minor to stop nibbling and trying to K everyone, and let his defense help him out occasionally. He's no longer trying to be perfect and that has made him far, far better as a pitcher.
   8. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 26, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4452399)
It should be said that, assuming Beachy returns healthy, the rotation, arranged by talent, would look something like:

Beachy
Minor
Medlen
Teheran
Maholm
Hudson
   9. bfan Posted: May 26, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4452402)
Fangraphs, which bases their pitching WAR on FIP (ergo, on BB, HR, and K), has them much closer at 1.2 for Minor and 2.0 for Kershaw.


Thanks; that was helpful.
   10. Knock on any Iorg Posted: May 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4452404)
Keep in mind that most teams are only a couple games shy of 54 games played which will be 1/3 of the season. I'd say that's a reasonable basis for "on pace" numbers.
   11. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: May 26, 2013 at 02:24 PM (#4452447)
Keep in mind that most teams are only a couple games shy of 54 games played which will be 1/3 of the season. I'd say that's a reasonable basis for "on pace" numbers.

Eh, for a SP you are talking about at most 10 games. That is comfortably in the range where an outlier performance or two (good or bad) can really skew stats out of proportion. Or where due to scheduling a starter can face a set of lineups that are dramatically off the average. Hell, the difference between whether or not a pitcher has faced the Marlins (team OPS+ 67) is huge in itself.

Take the aforementioned Minor, who has faced exactly one team (Detroit) in his 10 starts, with an OPS+ over 100. And yes, he's faced the Marlins.
   12. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 26, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4452458)
And again, we're not talking about 60 innings or 10 games. We're talking about 170+ innings over 30 games.
   13. HowardMegdal Posted: May 26, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4452462)
12. Exactly. FWIW, in the article I talk to Minor, at length, about the change he made last season and the roughly full season of starts that followed. this isn't just about 2013.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: May 26, 2013 at 05:40 PM (#4452664)
What Minor is on pace to do is post the best season any Braves starter has logged in quite some time. His ERA+ of 138 is equal to Tim Hudson’s mark in 2010, his best as a Brave, and was last bettered by Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez in 2009. To find a Braves starter before that better than Minor’s pitched this season, you have to go back to John Smoltz, 2007.

Nominated for a Primey for "least impressive-sounding paragraph of the year."

C'mon Howard! :-)
   15. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 26, 2013 at 07:15 PM (#4452711)
Keep in mind that most teams are only a couple games shy of 54 games played which will be 1/3 of the season. I'd say that's a reasonable basis for "on pace" numbers.

I'm excited that Cabrera is going to break the single season RBI record.
   16. zachtoma Posted: May 26, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4452741)
Pastornicky was _abysmal_ as a defensive shortstop, and Simmons is the complete opposite,


When the Braves decided last spring that Pastornicky could be their everyday shortstop, it reminded me a lot of when they thought Scott Thorman could be their everyday first-baseman, leading of course to the disastrous Teixeira trade. For a well-run organization, they have an alarming tendency to just punt on entire positions or go into the season with no real plan there (see also 3B, 2013).
   17. Brian White Posted: May 26, 2013 at 10:02 PM (#4452775)
When the Braves decided last spring that Pastornicky could be their everyday shortstop, it reminded me a lot of when they thought Scott Thorman could be their everyday first-baseman, leading of course to the disastrous Teixeira trade. For a well-run organization, they have an alarming tendency to just punt on entire positions or go into the season with no real plan there (see also 3B, 2013).


Their third basemen are hitting .296/.342/.487 on the year. With bad defense, but they're producing.

Likewise, I don't think SS last year is the best example of giving up on a position. It makes no sense to go out and spend cash on a position where you have two in house options. Pastornicky hit well in the high minors, and deserved a look at the big league level. Once that failed, they went to their second option, which ended up being pretty great. Sometimes you just have to give your young guys a shot.

If you want to use their inability to find more than one good outfielder at a time from 2007 to 2010, that's a good example. But I have no problem with how shortstop was handled last year.
   18. Gaylord Perry the Platypus (oi!) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:36 AM (#4452833)
Pastornicky was a stopgap last year. They were hoping his bat would make up for the glove. When he didn't hit, they pushed Simmons' start date up. The plan was always for Simmons to take over this year.
   19. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:58 AM (#4452835)
I hated this draft pick - glad to be wrong
   20. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:04 AM (#4452837)
You and Keith Law, as I recall. Somehow I'm not expecting to see him make such an admission soon.
   21. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: May 27, 2013 at 03:16 AM (#4452857)
One difference being - I *wanted* to be wrong. :)
   22. Barnaby Jones Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:14 AM (#4452859)
You and Keith Law, as I recall. Somehow I'm not expecting to see him make such an admission soon.


Keith Law didn't say anything substantially different that the rest of the prospect press. That picked was panned more or less across the board; BA had him outside the top 30 in their pre-draft rankings. Goldstein called it a "horrible pick," "indefensible," and said that it was "nuts" to take him over Alex White.

It's not really Law's style to say "Oops, I was wrong" but he did pick Minor as a breakout player this year.
   23. base ball chick Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:14 PM (#4453240)
oh that BA chat is HILARIOUS!!

goldstein is moaning on and on about chad james, already OOB who didn't get above high A, bobby borchering, who the astros have already dumped, and alex white, who was dumped by 2 teams already, and is getting TJ surgery

interesting that KG, now with the astros, went and got 2 of 3 prospects he preferred to minor.

and now minor has turned into an ace.

and he STILL doesn't have the "velo"
   24. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:30 PM (#4453253)
The lesson of the day is "if internet scouting mavens and the Braves scouting department disagree on a high draft choice pitcher, lean toward the Braves."
   25. base ball chick Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:44 PM (#4453268)
sammy

yeah - i had THAT lesson down by 1999. but then again, i am not a scout, being a female

also, if you talkin pitchers, the rule is - if the braves don't want him, don't pick him up.2 mistakes in 20 years is not a record to sneer at (am not counting marquis because that was personality - or odalis perez because 1 good year is not necessarily a mistake)
   26. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:45 PM (#4453269)
Wainwright and? Jason Schmidt?
   27. spike Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:35 PM (#4453290)
Bruce Chen?

//I was being not-very-funny - I suppose Feliz is the second.
   28. steagles Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:40 PM (#4453293)
i was actually a big fan of mike minor coming out of college. i did think he would develop more velocity than he has shown this year, but a LHP with his size and 3 above average off-speed pitches definitely did not deserve to be panned as universally as he was at that time.
   29. spike Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM (#4453309)
I hated the pick, to be honest. I had it chalked up to signing cost. As someone said above, very happy to be wrong.
   30. zachtoma Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4453337)
am not counting marquis because that was personality


Marquis doesn't count because he is terrible.

And I don't think Wainwright/Feliz were mistakes. In both cases I think the Braves knew how good they were, but they gambled that the short-term upside of adding a star to the lineup (JD Drew in the first case, Tex in the latter) would make it worthwhile. Failing to win a pennant with either player or to re-sign them, they ended up being wrong.
   31. Barnaby Jones Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:29 AM (#4453359)
I could buy that if Feliz was the center of a trade, but he was added to a trade where the Braves already were giving up their 3 best prospects (per BA's pre-season list). I'm gonna keep calling everything involved with both Teixeira trades mistakes.
   32. base ball chick Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:47 AM (#4453476)
i meant schmidt and wainwright - forgot about feliz, i guess because he's been a reliever. but he should be included - even 3 good years of relief are valuable. and yeah, he was a throw in for some unknown reason. when the braves include a pitcher in a trade, they don't think much of him. they usually manage to get rid of pitchers who don't turn out to be worth much.

bruce chen, well, he did have a whole lot of years pitching after leaving the braves, but except for the whatsisname chuck someone year, they didn't even need him as a number 5 and he didn't exaactly turn into an ace.

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