Bill James on Pineda and Ogando ...


... well, on contract extensions that apply to pitchers like them, anyway.  :- )  Dr. D has had his fill with the non-baseball chat.  Back on topic :- )

At Bill James Online you can pay $3 a month (is it possible to pay any less?) and, aside from everything else going on at that site, he'll personally respond to your questions.  I think the last time I asked an online attorney for an opinion on property boundary lines, it was $80 or something for two paragraphs...

BJOL gave us fair-use approval to exerpt them, with credit.  We asked a few questions about contract extensions for young pitchers:



Regarding the recent 21-23 year old pitchers who have had 1-2 excellent full seasons (with good K/BB) in the majors -- such as Matt Cain after 2006, Lincecum after 2007, Brett Anderson after 2009, Pineda after 2011, Verlander after 2006 --

Do you have any thoughts as to their likely future health, as compared to 21-23 year olds who are still in the minors ...


And as compared to rookie pitching stars who were older in their first full excellent seasons (such as Ogando, maybe Jered Weaver, and Lester)?


Would you invest in a Matt Moore-type contract for Ogando or Pineda right now, if the terms were moderately favorable to the ballclub?

Asked by: jemanji

Answered: 1/10/2012




JAMES:  There is an opportunity to make a deal with those type of players because the money they can earn now on a multi-year dwarfs their current assets.    It may be that a certain young pitcher, IF he is healthy, is likely to earn $25 million over the next four years, and it may be that the rational discount because of his likelihood of an injury is no more than $5 million.    However, the player's net assets as of now might be a collection of pirated CDs, a couch and an old pickup truck.    You know the old saw that if you have one foot in a block of ice and the other in a fire, on average you're comfortable?    This is that situation; the average is misleading from the standpoint of the player; if the player can guarantee $15 million when there is otherwise a 20% chance that he will walk away from the game broke, it is irrational for him to pass it up, even though accepting it lowers his expected earnings in his career.   Thus, in that situation it is often in the best interests of both the player and the team to pursue a multi-year.


Not sure that that answered your question, which contrasted a 21 year old pitcher with a 26 year old.   I'm leery of a too-young pitcher with a starting pitcher workload.   I'd rather have a 26 year old rookie starting pitcher than a 22 year old, although, again, the average expected wins for the 22 year old are higher.





Yes, absolutely, if I'm in Ogando's shoes, I lock in that first $10M because that first $10M alters my life more than the next $100M will, right? I weight the first $10M more than any amount of money thereafter. ...


The crux of my question goes to the issue of whether it's in the ballclub's interest to sign Ogando or Pineda *even at* (say) a 30% "discount" off his arb expectations.


Do we figure that a 2nd-year Verlander, Lincecum, Ogando, or Pineda have gotten past *most* injury hurdles that take down other young pitchers, so that we're reasonably comfortable paying them?


- jemanji




JAMES:  Well, here's a little bit of data.   In the years 1970 to 2005 there were 657 major league pitchers who started 25 games in a season for the first time (counting 18 starts as 25 in 1981 and 1994).    Of those 657 young pitchers, 378 started 25 games again the next year, 305 the second year following, 268 the third year following, 259 the fourth year following.


This includes "decay" both from injury and ineffectiveness (being dropped from the rotation.)   Suppose we focus only on pitchers whose ERAs are no more than 5% higher than the league ERA.   Then we have 428 first-year starting pitchers, of whom 288 make 25 or more starts the next season (two-thirds), 233 the second year following, 206 the third year following, 191 the fourth year following.    So a 30% discount for injury risk seems reasonable.


Suppose that we segregate those by age.   Of those 428 starting pitchers, 112 were aged 23 or younger.   Of those 112, 76 made 25 or more starts the next year following, essentially the same percentage as at a higher age.    The 20- and 21-year old starting pitchers in the group include a very large number of pitchers who got hurt and had short careers (Edwin Correia, Dave Rozema, Rick Ankiel, Dennis Blair, Scott Kazmir, Mark Lemongello, Wayne Simpson), but also a number of pitchers who got to about 80-110 wins before they burned out (Britt Burns, Larry Christenson, Storm Davis, Steve Avery, Don Gullett, Dan Petry), a handful who had longer careers (Bret Saberhagen, Frank Tanana, Fernando Valenzuela, Vida Blue) and one Hall of Famer (Dennis Eckersley).   

=== Qwibbles and Bits, Dept. ===

Seeing this, Tom Tango offered this article link also.  It's a light, informative, fun read.  I like Tom's observation that --- > for any given extension, 4-year, 5-year, 6-year, the GM will give a young pitcher a price.


I was going to use Bill's and Tom's paradigms to calculate an extension price point for Pineda, because Bill's database for pitcher attrition allows us to begin to put our arms around it.

Notice that the question is not as simple as, "with young pitchers, 60% of good, durable seasons are followed by durable seasons the year following ... so Pineda's chance is 60% in 2012."   Okay, we know that about 60% of pitchers like Pineda and Ogando have continued to roll in the short term, and about 40% have continued to roll over the next 5+ years.  

But that's just a starting point.  My son drives a Camaro, and let's say 60% of men aged 18-25 total their cars before they're 25.  Does that mean my son has a 60% chance also?  Of course not.  The percentage would change if you isolated to men with 3.0 averages in school.  The percentage would change if you isolated to men who never drink.  The percentage would change based on 100 variables.

With young pitchers in Pineda's class, the chances are 60-70% they'll have a durable season next year, and perhaps 40% will make it through year 5 healthy and effective.  How do you tweak the scales for Pineda himself?  Which variables weigh heavily?  That's what we wanted to write about. 

Am swamped this week.  Hopefully will get to it shortly.


=== MORNING SUDOKU, Dept. ===

Notice that 58% of all 25-start rookie starters had 25-start seasons in Y2 ... whereas 68% of all 25-start rookies, age 23 and under, did.

That leaves 55% of those aged 24 and over, who stayed in the rotation in Y2.  About half of all older rookies were healthy and effective in Y2; about two-thirds of the kiddies were, and about 2/3 of all good pitchers got 25+ starts in Y2.

In this data set, the variable of "effectiveness" predicted future workload far better than age did.


Dr D



... along with a certain husband of hers.  Our phones have 8 megapixel capability these days, so we'll be leaving the dedicated cameras at home...
If Prince is there, great; if not, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen will be...

Seen.'s picture

Makes this moot, i guess. This means no Prince, right? Damn...

M-Pops's picture

Looks like SSI is again prophetic in calling a deal for an impact hitter to expedite Boras' decision making process.
Would hate to see any of Pineda/Smoak/Paxton go in the rumored trade. Z would be selling low if he included any of those three in a deal, IMO.

Dixarone's picture

Looks like a done deal. M's are suddenly positioning themselves very well for 2013+, with good upside for 2012. As Pujols starts to diminish in the skills dep't, we could have a tremendous young RH hitter of our own in Montero. And we've got the pitching depth to cover Pineda's spot, since we're rolling the dice on a number of excellent pitching prospects.
From Doc's article on Montero 18 months ago:
Even on the big-league level, I'd be just about as happy as if the M's moved for Adrian Gonzalez or Joey Votto, 'cause Montero looks that good and you are talking sixxxxxxxxxxxxx years.  Take Montero over Prince Fielder like I'd take Ichiro over Luis Polonia.(empashis mine)
I'm okay with this.

glmuskie's picture

Barring a trade involving Justin Smoak, of course.  Smoak-Montero-Fielder-Carp all on the same roster doesn't make too much sense.  Sounds like a nice 3-4-5-6 though...

Anonymous's picture

Uh.....I hate this.  At least until Hultzen goes 7 innings with 2 hits. 
Until then, yuck.
- moe

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