I love Kevin Goldstein’s Twitter feed. He’s conversational, blunt, and isn’t afraid to say what he feels. This caught my eye last Thursday:
I really, really hate the term “#1 starter.” I think its a useless thing to say, because it doesn’t mean a thing. At any given time, there are at least 150 starting pitchers in the major leagues. Technically, 30 are #1 starters. Obviously, not all of them are top quality. I’m willing to say that the Rockies do not have a #1 starter right now.
If we consider a #1 starter, say, the top 20% of all MLB starting pitchers, we’re probably looking at something like this list. Those are all MLB pitchers who threw at least 350 innings between 2009 and 2012 sorted by ERA-. The #30 pitcher (20% cut off) is Dan Haren. I think that’s a pretty fair cut off, which includes quite a few prospects with that kind of ceiling, but Kevin Goldstein doesn’t:
So, he’s actually talking about consistent Cy Young candidates. To call a prospect a potential #1 starter is to call him the next Roy Halladay, C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, or Felix Hernandez. Instead of top 20%, he’s probably referring to something closer to two standard deviations, or top 2.5% – one of the top 4 starters in the league. Over the 2009-2012 time frame, those starters (by WAR) are Zach Greinke, Justin Verlander, Cliff Lee, and Roy Halladay (Sabathia is #5). If this is what Kevin Goldstein is referring to, I think it is very fair to say that only prospects like Gerrit Cole and Dylan Bundy are #1 starter prospects.
But that begs the question: How effective are these labels? Why do we use them in the first place? I tried to design a prospect rating system to get around this problem, but defining pitchers by their peak WAR:
Something like this is how we should talk about prospects. Kevin Goldstein would probably say that Manuel Banuelos is a potential #3 starter. By definition, that’s a league average starting pitcher. In 2012, that means an ERA of 4.37. Banuelos is a much better prospect than that. “#3 starter on the best team in the league” might be a better way to say it, but at that point the label loses most of its meaning.
This isn’t a post to pick on Kevin Goldstein. He’s a great baseball commentator because he’s both very smart and very sure of what he wants to say. His examples clearly illustrate his intended meaning of the terms he uses. But the term still leads to ambiguity, needless argument, and confusion. I would give Manuel Banuelos the #1 starting pitcher prospect title, because I think he can be one of those top-30 in the league type guys. But that’s my definition, not everyone’s. I also think that Banuelos is the type of pitcher who could put up a 3.50-ish ERA and fairly consistently give a team a solid 5 WAR in his prime, if he hits his ceiling.
LIKE TYA ON FACEBOOK
- TYA To Merge With It’s About The Money, Stupid
- What about Kevin Youkilis?
- Teix Now Front And Center On The “Needs To Produce” Radar
- Cashman: Heathcott A Dark Horse Candidate
- A Dog Chasing Cars
- Outfield Trade Targets
- The Problem With Brett Gardner
- A Look At Relief Prospect Branden Pinder
- The Yankees Should Be Realistic, Put Team on Short Leash in 2013
- Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson
- Louis Vuitton Outlet Sale Singapore on The Monthly Prospector: April Edition
- Authentic Louis Vuitton Outlet Store on The Monthly Prospector: June Edition
- related web site on The Great Subway Race
- get your lover back on Contact Us
- Dorothy Silvan on Pineda’s Torn Labrum, or Does the lemon law apply to baseball?
- tao of badass on Open Thread | Game 3 | Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees | Sunday, April 3, 2011
- tube launch review on Why Has Attendance Fallen Year-To-Year?
- Evon Znidarsic on Teixeira MRI Update, Babe Ruth Pitching In Pinstripes, And Jeter’s Gift Baskets
- Sacramento PC Repair on Yanks finally sign non-Yankee free agent in Russell Martin
TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees