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December 21, 2012 5:00 am

Overthinking It: The Mike Minor Mystery

7

Ben Lindbergh

How can we tell whether a player's performance improved because he did something different or because he had better luck?

Through his first four starts and 26 1/3 innings of 2012, Braves starter Mike Minor allowed one home run, striking out 21 and walking five. He had a 3.42 ERA, and the Braves were 3-1 when he pitched.

Then came his next six starts. In those six starts (four of which Atlanta lost) and 31 2/3 innings, Minor still struck out 30, but he walked 16 and gave up 12 home runs—as many as Tim Hudson allowed all season. Minor’s outings got so ugly that on May 21st, after the fifth of those sixth starts, Fredi Gonzalez defended him—sort of—by saying, “he only gave up four solo home runs.”

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