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As you’ll recall, last week we took a gander at the minor-league careers of today’s elite pitchers. This time around, it’s the less-than-stellar crowd that gets the once-over.

Last week, the study population included those starters who had pitched at least 1,000 innings at the major-league level as of the end of the 2002 season while maintaining a park-adjusted ERA+ (the pitcher’s ERA relative to the league average) of at least 110. That is, their career park-adjusted ERA is at least 10 percent better than the league average over that same span. Thrown in for good measure were those young hurlers who’d thrown at least 500 innings in the bigs while posting a park-adjusted ERA+ of at least 120. Now, we’ll meander to the other end of the quality continuum and look at something I like to call Group B: all active pitchers who have, as of the end of the 2002 season, pitched at least 500 innings and posted a park-adjusted ERA+ of 95 or less (at least five percent worse than the league average). Just like last time, I’ve attempted to isolate those minor-league innings that are developmental in nature–i.e., not an injury rehab assignment or late-career retread work.

Here are the minor-league cumulatives for those confined to the hinterlands of Group B:


               MLB              Minor League Statistics
Pitcher        ERA     IP    K/BB     K/9     BB/9    HR/9     ERA
------------------------------------------------------------------
Anderson, J.    86    755     1.7     6.8     4.0     0.4     3.55
Baldwin, J.     92    756     2.2     8.6     3.9     0.8     3.37
Banks, W.       90    756     1.3     7.0     5.5     0.4     3.79
Bere, J.        86    422     2.0     8.6     4.2     0.3     2.65
Castillo, F.    94    481     4.3     8.2     1.9     0.5     2.75
Clement, M.     93    726     2.1     9.0     4.3     0.4     3.57
Dempster, R.    89    484     2.4     7.8     3.3     1.0     3.85
Estes, S.       94    442     1.7     9.0     5.2     0.5     4.36
Hamilton, J.    95    327     2.0     6.2     3.2     0.3     3.44
Haney, C.       90    417     2.2     7.0     3.2     0.5     3.50
Hawkins, L.     90    827     2.7     7.1     2.6     0.5     3.45
Haynes, J.      87    893     2.8     8.8     3.1     0.7     3.13
Hernandez, L.   92    228     1.8     7.9     4.5     0.9     4.35
Hitchcock, S.   91    649     3.3     9.2     2.8     0.4     2.95
Jarvis, K.      77    653     2.6     6.9     2.7     0.6     3.45
Johnson, J.     88    704     2.6     7.6     3.0     0.6     3.78
Jones, B.J.     94    348     3.9     7.9     2.0     0.4     2.72
Lima, J.        87    777     3.1     7.4     2.4     1.0     4.14
Loaiza, E.      95    605     2.4     6.5     2.8     0.6     3.56
Mahomes, P.     83    851     1.8     8.9     5.0     0.5     3.13
Meadows, B.     82    533     2.7     5.6     2.1     0.8     4.02
Miceli, D.      91    243     2.7     11.1    4.2     0.6     3.19
Mlicki, D.      92    526     2.1     8.6     4.1     0.7     3.78
Mulholland, T.  94    707     1.4     5.9     4.4     0.4     3.70
Oliver, D.      94    324     1.9     9.1     4.7     0.2     2.50
Parque, J.      93    120     2.0     8.4     4.3     0.8     3.38
Pavano, C.      93    566     3.4     8.1     2.4     0.6     3.01
Rekar, B.       88    583     3.0     7.1     2.4     0.8     3.91
Rusch, G.       89    654     3.4     7.7     2.3     0.6     3.47
Springer, D.    88   1486     1.8     6.0     3.4     0.8     3.99
Sturtze, T.     90    969     1.4     5.8     4.1     0.7     4.38
Van Poppel, T.  81    293     1.3     8.1     6.1     0.3     4.02
Villone, R.     92    278     1.6     10.2    6.4     0.6     3.56
Weathers, D.    93    720     1.8     6.3     3.6     0.3     3.54
Wilson, P.      90    331     3.6     8.8     2.5     0.4     3.24
Witasick, J.    93    594     2.9     9.6     3.3     0.7     3.44
Woodard, S.     92    522     4.1     7.3     1.8     0.6     3.60
Wright, Jam.    93    471     1.8     6.3     3.5     0.3     3.55
Wright, Jar.    88    342     1.8     8.9     4.9     0.5     2.90

Now, a comparison of the two groups’ cumulative minor-league numbers. Remember, at the major-league level A = good, B = bad.


                     Minor League Statistics
Group    Mi IP    K/BB    K/9   BB/9   HR/9    ERA
--------------------------------------------------
A       12,657    2.00   7.50   3.74   0.48   3.38
B       22,363    2.17   7.58   3.49   0.57   3.55

While perhaps not as shocking as the fact that Krokus is still touring, these results are nonetheless surprising. Group B, whose collective major-league performance was manifestly inferior to that of Group A, fared better in the minors in several key measures. In fact, Group B outdoes A in the stathead trinity of pitching indicators: K/BB, K/9 and BB/9.

Other musings on the data:

  • 22.5% (nine of 40) of the pitchers in Group B posted a career K/BB ratio in the minors of 3.0 or better; in Group A, only 14.8% (four of 27) did.
  • While 65 percent of Group B pitchers managed a K/BB ratio of at least 2.0, that’s the case for only 37 percent of Group A.
  • Last week’s results hinted at a possible correlation between minor-league home-run rates and major-league success. It’s one of the two areas in which Group A was superior, although the variance isn’t particularly striking. Still, there may be something to it.
  • Predictably, Group A pitchers spent less developmental time in the minors than those of group B (468.8 innings on average against 559.1 innings on average).
  • You’d be hard-pressed to find two pitchers with better minor-league dossiers than Steve Woodard or Frank Castillo.
  • Is hits-per-nine a better augury of major-league success? Group A’s lower ERA in tandem with its inferior peripherals suggests an advantage in hit rate. Sounds like something to look into for next week…