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July 11, 2013

Overthinking It

Phil Hughes, Homer Bailey, and the Diverging Paths of Pitching Prospects

by Ben Lindbergh


On the night that Homer Bailey pitched his second career no-hitter, fanning nine Giants against only one walk, Phil Hughes was also in action. Hughes had a good outing, but hardly a historic one: he threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Twins, striking out three and walking two. Bailey’s start was the one that led SporsCenter, but it’s appropriate that the pair’s spots in their respective rotations were synched.

Bailey and Hughes have been linked for a long time. Both were hard-throwing, right-handed high schoolers selected in the first round of the 2004 draft. Hughes stands 6’5”; Bailey stands 6’4.” Hughes is less than two months younger. On our list of the top 100 prospects of 2007, Hughes placed second and Bailey ranked fourth, which made comparisons between them inevitable. Just breathe in the August, 2006-ness of this excerpt from Future Shock:

Really, you are looking at 1a and 1b here. If I ranked them tomorrow I might take Bailey. The next day I might go back to Hughes. The two are remarkably similar.

Flip a coin here folks, but my gut gives Hughes the wafer-thin edge.

(PECOTA, for what it’s worth, made Tim Lincecum 1c in that discussion, but Nate Silver gave Hughes the edge anyway, calling him the “Practically Perfect Pitching Prospect.”)

Both Bailey and Hughes debuted in the majors in ’07 at age 21, and both slogged through some disappointing early seasons marred by underperformance and injury—including matching 73-game DL stints for right shoulder inflammation. And on a certain level, at least, their career stats look very similar:

Pitcher

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Premium Article The Call-Up: Danny Sal... (07/11)
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