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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The 2005 draft produced a bumper crop of flycatchers that dominate the upper echelon of center field prospects.
Like most years, the center field list is packed to the gills with athletes and high-ceiling players. Like most years, many of these players are center fielders for now, but won't be by the time they get to the big leagues. The 2005 draft has the potential to go down as one of the best ever for outfielders--even with Justin Upton and Cameron Maybin already in the majors--and the first three players on the center field list are first-round picks from that year. Another shows up two slots later, and a fifth makes the honorable mention list despite a disappointing year. The usual caveats apply--one has to be in the minors, one has to be technically a prospect (fewer than 130 big league at-bats), and 2007 draftees are not eligible, but will be discussed separately.
This week's Ten Pack starts sad but gets happier, at least if you're a fan of the Orioles, Yankees, or Dodgers.
An eighth-round pick in 2004 out of The Citadel, Cannon put himself on the map last year by smacking 32 home runs across three levels, finishing up at Double-A. He stayed at that level all season long in 2006, and led the organization with 27 home runs. However, his overall line of .248/.335/.476 with 158 strikeouts in 475 at-bats reflected that the holes in his game began to get exposed. With a run of four home runs in three games last week, Cannon leads the AFL in homers with seven, and at .385/.484/.846, he leads the league in slugging while ranking among the top five in runs, RBI, and OBP. Cannon turns 25 next month, and his severe lack of athleticism limits him to first base, so this is not a performance that should get anyone too worked up. This is more like what Tagg Bozied did in Arizona a couple of years back.
Kevin moves on to the young corner outfielders, where there's more than a little controversy about the Devil Rays on the list.
Corner outfield spots tend to go to the sluggers, and there
are a good number of them here. The top five players on this list are among
the best bats in the minors, and number six would join them if not for
extenuating circumstances. This is an impressive group that will become even
better when some of the center field prospects play their way into a corner.