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02-19-2010, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by FlyHigh View Post
I think I was having an argument with somebody last year about Hamels and the Verducci effect and how I didn't put a lot of stock in it.

I have all kinds of problems with the analysis taking place there...the most obvious question being, who is laying the gypsy curse on the non-Verducci group in their 2nd season? A 14% increase in DL trips, and an average of 70 days spent there once they arrive?

I would like to know about the minor league seasons that preceded these seasons, as those are important as well (and I know Verducci has included minor league seasons in the past).

The other issue is that Verducci effect is a risk factor, not a predictor of performance.

More than a decade ago, with the help of then-Oakland pitching coach Rick Peterson, I began tracking one element of overuse which seemed entirely avoidable: working young pitchers too much too soon. Pitchers not yet fully conditioned and physically matured were at risk if clubs asked them to pitch far more innings than they did the previous season -- like asking a 10K runner to crank out a marathon. The task wasn't impossible, but the after-effects were debilitating. I defined an at-risk pitcher as any 25-and-under pitcher who increased his innings log by more than 30 in a year in which he pitched in the big leagues. Each year the breakdown rate of such red-flagged pitchers -- either by injury or drop in performance -- was staggering.

I try to stress that the effect is not a predictor -- it's just a guideline of risk. In the previous four years, I have identified 34 at-risk pitchers. Only four of them made it through that year without injury and with a lower ERA: Jimenez and three studs who did it last year, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw and Jair Jurrjens. (Jurrjens may not have escaped the effect after all. He reported to camp this week with a sore shoulder and will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the problem.) Jon Lester, with only a slightly higher ERA in a fine 2009 season, merits mention, too. The at-risk pitchers last year who confirmed the effect included Pelfrey, Cole Hamels, Chad Billingsley, John Danks and Dana Eveland.

While the use of ERA here is flawed (you cannot consistently lower your ERA), an almost 10% tick upward in injuries stands out. Of course, the non-Verducci group had a 14% increase in their 2nd, who knows? However, any analysis that finds that high an attrition rate and doesn't pause to figure out what is going on...problematic.

Cole Hamels had a bum elbow in spring training last year, and then had command problems all of last season.

EDIT: 140 pitchers in 8 years is also 17.5 pitchers a season... I haven't paid that much attention to Verducci's lists, but has been purposefully non-exhaustive?

Last edited by Jester: 02-19-2010 at 10:57 AM.
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