A look at the starting pitchers on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Once again, Ye Olde Winter Workload kept me from reaching the pitchers' portion of the Hall of Fame ballot before the arrival of the New Year, not to mention the December 31 deadline for postmarking ballots. Nonetheless, with the election results not due to drop until January 8, there's still plenty of time for readers to play along at home.
The basics of JAWS remain the same for the pitchers as for the hitters: we consider a player's career and peak WARP totals--the latter defined as his seven best seasons--using the all-time version of our WARP3 metric. Just as the worst elected Hall of Famer at each position was eliminated in the process of determining the JAWS benchmarks, we'll exclude a similar percentage of pitchers--four out of 60, in this case. Four more (Dennis Eckersley, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter) are excluded for use in creating the reliever benchmark, known as RAJAWS (Reliever Adjusted JAWS); while Eckersley had a significant career as a starter, his overall numbers are so close to the JAWS benchmark for starters that including or excluding him doesn't move any measure more than a few runs. In examining these pitchers, we'll also use Pitching Runs Above Average (PRAA) as a secondary measure for "peak" in conjunction with PRAR's "career" proxy. A pitcher with many PRAA but fewer PRAR likely had a high peak and a short career, while one with the same number of PRAA but more PRAR likely had a longer career. Although durability should not be confused with excellence, league-average performance has value, as anybody who's ever suffered through a fifth starter's pummeling knows.
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Will any of the 11 newly-eligible Cooperstown candidates make it into that exclusive fraternity?
What if the Hall of Fame selection process worked like this: Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt drop by Tim Raines' dorm room to invite him over for a kegger to see how he gets along with the rest of the fellas. Things go fine. Next thing he knows, he's been kidnapped in the middle of the night with a pillow case thrown over his head. When it's removed, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, and Sandy Koufax are standing over him, asking him to pledge. Several months of humiliation and team-building exercises follow until, one night, he finds himself in the candlelit basement of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, dressed in a black, hooded robe…
The Cubs take a big step toward making the playoffs. The Red Sox make a deal for the wrong reasons. The Expos and Devil Rays land nifty prospects for expendable veterans. The Giants fail to help themselves much. These and many more trade deadline happenings in a special weekend edition of Transaction Analysis.
Dayn Perry debuts his Can Of Corn column with a look at some of the greatest pitchers of this generation and how they fared in the minor leagues. Hint: not as well as you'd think.
What makes a pitching prospect? When we examine a minor leaguer from a statistical perspective, we depend upon a litany of familiar metrics and concepts--some empirically based, some articles of faith. We like pitchers with high strikeout rates, measurable success in the upper reaches of the minors, good control and strong strikeout-to-walk ratios. When we see these in tandem with sensible usage patterns and clean mechanics, we see a prospect. When we don't, we see a pitcher whose odds of succeeding in the majors aren't good. Right?
Before the Chuck Finley deal, the Cardinals had only one hitting prospect. Now they have none.
Before the Chuck Finley deal, the Cardinals had only one hitting prospect. Now they have none. They tried to trade their only pitching prospect, but he had the bad manners to hit the DL at the All-Star Break. They managed to complete the Scott Rolen deal by trading two major leaguers (Bud Smith's 132 2/3 major-league innings moving him off of any prospetct lists).
The trades may help them win the NL Central in 2002, but they left the organization with a lack of mature talent. This year's pennant race will mask the ugly truth that for the foreseeable future, this is as good as it's going to be for the Cardinals. Under Branch Rickey, the Cardinals created the minor-league system. This past spring, Baseball America rated the Cardinals' farm system the worst in all of baseball.
The current Cardinal roster is largely homegrown. In 2001, the NL Rookie of the Year Award went to Albert Pujols. In recent years the Cardinals have gotten solid rookie seasons from Rick Ankiel, Alan Benes and Matt Morris. J.D. Drew is a fragile, but excellent, player. The Cardinals have had a knack for developing players to play key roles on their good teams. So far, so good.
No Cardinals prospect appeared on the Baseball Prospectus preseason Top 40 Prospects list; only the Pirates, Devil Rays and Dodgers graded as poorly in this year's Minor League Scouting Notebook; and other than Jimmy Journell, who is on the disabled list and has a Tommy John surgery in his past, no Cardinal appeared on any of BA's four Top Prospects lists. If the Cardinals are going to win the World Series any time soon, the 2002 roster is going to have to make it happen.
The Cardinals had no pick in the first or second round of this year's draft, having lost their selections for signing Jason Isringhausen and Tino Martinez. In the third round, with their first pick, they selected Calvin Hayes, a high-school shortstop. Hayes remains unsigned, as does the Cards' third pick, high-school catcher Josh Bell.
The Cards took high-school hitters with three of their first four picks, then used the next 16 picks on college players. Of the 17 college players they took on the first day of the draft, 15 were from four-year college programs. Of their last 28 selections, 18 came from four-year colleges. When they took left-handed pitchers, they took them from colleges.