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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Sunday, May 23, 2010

ESPN (Insider Req):  C.J. Wilson’s attempt at history

The move from the bullpen to the rotation is rarer than you think. The opposite path is far more common. Even in an age in which relief pitchers are highly valued and players such as Huston Street and Drew Storen are groomed as closers from the time they sign a professional contract, six of the 10 closers with the most saves in 2009 were converted starters.

In response to feedback from my entry last week, I’ve decided to start linking things that I do for Insider.  They will always appear in my personal area, never on the front page or in the newsstand, and will always say “Insider Req” so that people who have no interest in subscribing will instantly know to steer clear (though I’d still like to encourage you guys to subscribe, consider the most you ever have to pay is a dollar a month or so and you can frequently get this down as low as 40 cents a month).

Do keep in mind that there’s a more general type of audience there, so I try to write in a simpler, more straightforward manner for people who are not as immersed in sabermetrics as you guys are.

Edit: Removed the article link after changing the template to allow article links. Jim.

Dan Szymborski Posted: May 23, 2010 at 06:08 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. spivey Posted: May 23, 2010 at 07:59 PM (#3540629)
Is there a reason why you can't link to the actual article, or was it just an oversight?

Either way, CJ Wilson has been very good. He gave up some runs today but he had a lot of soft liners and bloops fall in and I thought he looked very effective. His fastball really has some late life on it, and it really cuts in on righties.
   2. spivey Posted: May 23, 2010 at 08:07 PM (#3540635)
From the article...

The Rangers should be pleased with how their experiment has worked out so far, but it still remains to be seen how durable Wilson will turn out to be as a starter.

This is definitely a question mark. And it is something the Rangers absolutely need from him, as even with 2 complete games from Wilson the Ranger are still leading the league in fewest innings from their starters.
   3. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: May 23, 2010 at 08:19 PM (#3540639)
How long was Derek Lowe a reliever? He went from closer to one of the most durable starters in the league overnight. Don't see that everyday.
   4. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 23, 2010 at 08:33 PM (#3540649)
I have the link at top now - TO isn't set up to have hyperlinks in titles unlike the news blog.
   5. Fresh Prince of Belisle Posted: May 24, 2010 at 01:42 AM (#3540930)
lost his job in 2001 when Boston acquired fireman Ugueth Urbina from the Montreal Expos.

   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2010 at 02:15 AM (#3540969)
The move from the bullpen to the rotation is rarer than you think.

Braden Looper is the only case I can think of off the top of my head. I know Kelvim Escobar went from closer to starter, but I think he had been a starter in the minors.
   7. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 24, 2010 at 02:34 AM (#3540985)
I was trying to get guys who were full-time relievers for a good bit of time before starting. I was actually surprised how few did it. I picked very generous definition (2 straight years of 90% relief and at least 40 IP a year and then a year of 80% starting and at least 80 IP) and only got 30 players in the entire history of baseball, none before the last 60s.

If you weed out the guys who were never starters, then you lose even most of those 30. I was surprised to find that Chuck Finley never started in the minors (except for rehab later in his career).
   8. Meatwad Posted: May 24, 2010 at 04:36 AM (#3541064)
i dont have insider, but ryan dempster did go starter reliever for a few years then starter again
   9. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: May 24, 2010 at 04:53 AM (#3541071)
I find Dempster's career path to be rather strange. From good young starter, to inning-eater young starter, to outright crappy starter, to decent closer, to below-average closer, to damn good starter.
   10. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: May 24, 2010 at 05:02 AM (#3541073)
I thought Robert Person was one of these guys, but it looks like the Phillies acquired him after his one and only season as a reliever. Never knew that before, I thought his conversion to starter was a shrewd Ed Wade success story.
   11. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 24, 2010 at 05:40 AM (#3541083)
I do mention Dempster in the article (I went down the specifics of some of the most successful conversions). Lowe and Finley were mentioned, but Wilbur Wood's was pretty groundbreaking at the time. He led the league in relief games 3 times and starts 4 times. The only pitcher before Wood to meet the criteria was Gary Bell, but he was nowhere near as good and did start regularly in the majors a ways before, which Wood never did.

I remembered the year Bedrosian was a starter (Sutter was brought in) but I had completely forgotten the year that Jim Frey decided Calvin Schiraldi was a starter. Of the experiments that teams stuck with for more than a few starts, the worst conversions seem to be Rick Aguilera in 1996 and, of course, the Danny Graves conversion we mostly made fun of back in 2003.

Hough should count too, though he didn't fit the criteria.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: May 24, 2010 at 06:36 AM (#3541092)
Ron Villone.

I also remember Chuck McElroy getting some starts just about when his career was over.
   13. Ron J Posted: May 24, 2010 at 07:52 AM (#3541109)
#11 Wood's not precisely groundbreaking. There's Hoyt Wilhelm as the precedent (right down to being a knuckler). The primary difference being that Wilhelm was switched back after a very successful run as a starter.

Did Don Mossi meet your definition? He started every now and then at the start of his career but was pretty clearly what would have been classified as a reliever in the majors (though he was a starter in the minors)

Did you find them to be disproportionately left-handed? Fassero, Wells, Mossi and Wood were the first names that came to mind when I read the concept.
   14. Dan Szymborski Posted: May 24, 2010 at 01:53 PM (#3541202)
Wilhelm only spent a year as a full-time starter. Wood, in 5 years and a bit, won 110 games and threw 104 complete games.
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 24, 2010 at 02:04 PM (#3541217)
I thought the Reds talked about making Scott Williamson a starter after his closing career started to slide, but I see he only made ten starts in his career in his second year.

There have been whispers about making Joakim Soria a starter, but I'll believe it when I see it.
   16. smileyy Posted: May 24, 2010 at 07:16 PM (#3541530)
The Reds tried Danny Graves as a starter as well. That didn't work out so well either. OTOH, Jose Rijo spent the first 5 years of his career as a reliever and spot-starter, before becoming a full-time starter in his second year with the Reds. Has that usage pattern pretty much gone away these days?
   17. Danny Posted: May 24, 2010 at 07:23 PM (#3541538)
Duchscherer misses your criteria because he was hurt in 2007, but he went from 188 straight relief appearances to 27 straight starts.

The A's also look like they're trying to convert Fernando Hernandez to a SP after 300+ relief appearances to start his pro career.

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