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Hypothetical rule change: remove DH when pitcher is removed

Other Baseball Today, 09:50 AM
I just read this potential rule change on Twitter and I am intrigued:   https://twitter.com/...4091739136?s=20     For th...
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The Robes

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It’s hokey, but I don’t think the fact that Donaldson gifted everyone on the team their own robes, and they have turned it into a “thing”...
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White Sox make changes

Other Baseball Today, 09:50 AM
Both Manager Rick Rentaria and pitching coach Don Cooper were let go.     Was a bit surprised by this, because the White S...
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Nelson Cruz wants 2 years

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 10:31 AM
https://www.mlbtrade...-year-deal.html
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Target Field Tax Status

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Been reading about all the losses (alleged or not) that MLB has (and maybe will again) taken with the pandemic, and wondered how the tax...
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Will José Berríos Be an Ace in 2020? What History Tells Us About the Age-26 Season

While the Twins struck out on signing an “impact” starting pitcher via free agency this offseason, they still do possess an impact starting pitcher of their own heading into the prime of his career — José Berríos. What does history tell us about starting pitchers entering their age-26 season in the majors? Let’s discuss!
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
The aging curve for starting pitchers in baseball probably looks like what you would expect. Starters come into the league with flaming velocity and a high walk rate, their stats improve as they age until they peak, and then we see a steady statistical decline from that peak until the end of their career. What age does that peak come, though?

Attached Image: Pitcher_Curves_Starters.png

As you can see from the graph above from Fangraphs, the peak age for starting pitchers comes at 26. It’s after age 26 that pitcher velocity and strikeout rates begin to really decline and walk rates and FIP begin to steadily rise. It’s at age 26 that we can expect top performance from starting pitchers, which is good for Twins fans as their ace heading into the 2020 season, José Berríos, will turn 26 in May.

Until this point in his career, Berríos has improved each season and followed the general aging curve shown in the graph above. His velocity (slightly) and walk rate (greatly) have declined while his strikeout rate and FIP have improved in each season. If Berríos continues to follow the aging curve that he has followed throughout his career, we could be looking at a peak Berríos season in 2020.

Another thing that I looked at while I was studying the starting pitcher aging curve was to look at other recent examples of starting pitchers and how their age 26 season compared to the rest of the career. For this exercise I looked at starting pitchers who were free agents this season as we have them all fresh in our minds.

Attached Image: BumStrasDK.jpg

In the graph above I compiled statistics from Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and Dallas Keuchel before, during and after their age-26 season to see how they compared. I highlighted in green when their age-26 stats represented a “peak” meaning they improved upon their career stats up until their age-26 season as well as showed a career decline in that statistic following their age-26 season. As you can see, most of these players posted career bests in their age-26 season, supporting our aging curve discussed above to be an accurate depiction of a pitcher’s career.

So what does this mean for José Berríos? To this point in his career, José Berríos has posted a 4.21 ERA, 4.10 FIP, 8.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9. Expecting Berríos to improve on those career statistics in 2020 seems like a certainty. But just how much will he improve? If he can continue on his career trajectory and follow the starting pitcher aging curve, I think we should all be really excited about what next season could bring for the Puerto Rican right-hander. He could really be the ace that we were unable to acquire in free agency.

What do you think we can expect from José Berríos heading into 2020? Leave a comment below to start the conversation.

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24 Comments

Both Bumgarner and Strasburg had better ERAs and FIPs going into their age 26 season. Still, I expect we will get a very good year from Jose.

I look forward to it. And we apparently need to hope for near-career years from some other pitchers, too.

Alas...

Go Twins!

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Ben Derflott
Jan 05 2020 10:58 PM

I think Jose Berrios would really benefit if we were somehow able to find the Nelson Cruz of pitchers.

 

Much like Miguel Sano, Berrios has all the talent in the world and could easily rattle off a handful of Cy Young Award-level seasons before he retires. Unfortunately he, much like Sano did prior to Cruz's arrival, seems to put too much pressure on himself and tends to fall apart physically, mentally, or both right when we need him the most.

 

If we find the pitching version of Nelson Cruz, I think we'll find we have a real ace in Berrios for the next handful of years.

    • Captain Torii likes this
As we all know, Berrios has faded in the second halves of seasons. If he can maintain for a full season, we have an Ace. Can he and his coaches find a way to do this? That is the number one question.
    • DocBauer and puckstopper1 like this

Max Scherzer has a far better history after age 36. The big thing with pitching is injuries . You can pick a trend and an age but injuries are more likely to be the cause of decline rather than just age

    • Oxtung likes this

To answer your question:Yes, probably, maybe.

 

Berrios would have been amongst the best in the league last year had his terrible August been so-so.Fix that and the answer will be yes! 

    • Danchat, DocBauer, puckstopper1 and 1 other like this
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Old Twins Cap
Jan 06 2020 08:11 AM

He will rise as high as he can control his curve ball, and be consistent with it.

 

Don't know if it's release point, feel, or the weather, but Jose and his curve ball are not always in synch. Sometimes it's loopy, sometimes it's sharp, sometimes it sweeps, sometimes he can't throw it for strikes.

 

That inconsistency, and abandonment of his pitch mix when it's off, allows hitters to sit on the fast ball and change-up.

    • lukeduke1980 likes this
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lukeduke1980
Jan 06 2020 08:33 AM

 

He will rise as high as he can control his curve ball, and be consistent with it.

 

Don't know if it's release point, feel, or the weather, but Jose and his curve ball are not always in synch. Sometimes it's loopy, sometimes it's sharp, sometimes it sweeps, sometimes he can't throw it for strikes.

 

That inconsistency, and abandonment of his pitch mix when it's off, allows hitters to sit on the fast ball and change-up.

Exactly this.The curve ball flattens out, I assume is release point related, or mechanics affecting release point.

You forgot Gerrit Cole as a free agent SP. He has become dominant after age 26. He's put up 13.8 fWAR the past two seasons.

 

Better to look at who the top SP are right now:

  • Seven of the 2019 Top Ten SP by fWAR were 30 or older. Eight were over 26. 
  • 14 of the top 20 were over the age of 26.

IMO, three characteristics separate "aces" from the masses:

  • Talent
  • Health
  • Continued Improvement (learning how to pitch)

Berrios has a lot of talent and has been healthy. He has a great work ethic. He can get better. He probably won't be a top 5 SP but he has the potential for a Top 10 season or two.

 

His one potential drawback is his small size. All of the eight older SP in the 2019 Top Ten are 6'2" or taller. Six are at least 6'4". 

 

 

    • Minny505 and wabene like this

You forgot Gerrit Cole as a free agent SP. He has become dominant after age 26. He's put up 13.8 fWAR the past two seasons.

Better to look at who the top SP are right now:

  • Seven of the 2019 Top Ten SP by fWAR were 30 or older. Eight were over 26.
  • 14 of the top 20 were over the age of 26.
IMO, three characteristics separate "aces" from the masses:
  • Talent
  • Health
  • Continued Improvement (learning how to pitch)
Berrios has a lot of talent and has been healthy. He has a great work ethic. He can get better. He probably won't be a top 5 SP but he has the potential for a Top 10 season or two.

His one potential drawback is his small size. All of the eight older SP in the 2019 Top Ten are 6'2" or taller. Six are at least 6'4".

The pitchers you’re describing are the exceptions. I don’t know how they help explain anything about aging curves or what to reasonably expect from most other pitchers.

 

The pitchers you’re describing are the exceptions. I don’t know how they help explain anything about aging curves or what to reasonably expect from most other pitchers.

 

The question asks if Berrios can become an ace. The data blob is a good first look. The second look is at who are the aces? The answer is a lot of SP over the age of 26. The more relevant question is why are there so many "old" aces if the data blob provides a different answer?

 

This type of analysis is similar to what epidemiologists use to identify the sources of viruses or bacterial illness. They would get nowhere just looking at "on-average" data.

 

 

    • USAFChief, SwainZag, DocBauer and 4 others like this

 

The question asks if Berrios can become an ace. The data blob is a good first look. The second look is at who are the aces? The answer is a lot of SP over the age of 26. The more relevant question is why are there so many "old" aces if the data blob provides a different answer?

 

This type of analysis is similar to what epidemiologists use to identify the sources of viruses or bacterial illness. They would get nowhere just looking at "on-average" data.

Point taken.

 

I bet we all wish there was an epidemic of aces.

    • 70charger, dbminn, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

 

Point taken.

 

I bet we all wish there was an epidemic of aces.

 

Yes! It would be like the old days with chicken pox. Send your kid down the street to the house where someone is already sick. Catch the virus and move on. Too bad it's not that catchy.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

So here’s what I struggle with.  Nobody wants to define what an “ace” looks like.  Apparently it’s like being in love. You just know it when you see it. If you hit .300 you’re a great hitter.  If you steal 30 bases, you’re speedy.  If you’re over 40 and left handed pitcher, you’re crafty. etc.  Berrios had 14 wins, an ERA under 4.00 and almost 200 strikeouts. I think there is a legitimate argument that he has “Ace” numbers. (Granted 14 wins isn’t something to tout but I was at a couple of those games he didn’t win and  the offense did not help him out)

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nicksaviking
Jan 06 2020 10:17 AM

If Berrios could pitch in the 2nd half as he does in the 1st half, he'd probably already be close enough to an ace for us all to be happy. 

 

When I think of pitchers fading in the 2nd half, I tend to assume they are tiring, which was always a concern with his size, but he's not losing velocity as the summer goes on so I'm encouraged that this is not an issue and correction is possible.

    • Twins33, Oxtung, SwainZag and 3 others like this

 "As you can see, most of these players posted career bests in their age-26 season, proving our aging curve discussed above to be an accurate depiction of a pitcher’s career.". I like the article and the stats but I kind of laughed at this.Most of the THREE pitchers sampled PROVED? As pointed out above you left out Cole and also Ryu. Withoutresearching much I am guessing that both those pitchers would have contradicted the thesis. So if included you could say the majority of these 5 players prove the aging curve is inaccurate but that would be just as wrong. Samples of 3 or 5 prove nothing even if they were random.Also , I don't know all the parameters of the graph but I am guessing it is an average of all starting pitchers over a certain period. It is possible to arrive at an average of a group without actually having any one individual having that trajectory. The graph is interesting, relevant and maybe indicative.Personally, I am not all that concerned with whether Berrios is considered an ace or not.Of course it would be nice if he threw up those kinds of numbers but history is littered with the Zito's beating the Santana's of the world in the playoffs. I just want guyscapable of throwing gems. Berrios was, is and hopefully continues to be capable.

    • USAFChief, DocBauer and MN_ExPat like this
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Matthew Taylor
Jan 06 2020 10:53 AM

 

 "As you can see, most of these players posted career bests in their age-26 season, proving our aging curve discussed above to be an accurate depiction of a pitcher’s career.". I like the article and the stats but I kind of laughed at this.Most of the THREE pitchers sampled PROVED? As pointed out above you left out Cole and also Ryu. Withoutresearching much I am guessing that both those pitchers would have contradicted the thesis. So if included you could say the majority of these 5 players prove the aging curve is inaccurate but that would be just as wrong. Samples of 3 or 5 prove nothing even if they were random.Also , I don't know all the parameters of the graph but I am guessing it is an average of all starting pitchers over a certain period. It is possible to arrive at an average of a group without actually having any one individual having that trajectory. The graph is interesting, relevant and maybe indicative.Personally, I am not all that concerned with whether Berrios is considered an ace or not.Of course it would be nice if he threw up those kinds of numbers but history is littered with the Zito's beating the Santana's of the world in the playoffs. I just want guyscapable of throwing gems. Berrios was, is and hopefully continues to be capable.

 

You're definitely right and thanks for calling that out. I certainly intended to use the word "support" rather than "prove".

 

I didn't use Ryu as an example just because he didn't come to the majors until he was 26 so using his stats in South Korea were more of a challenge. Cole didn't have his best season at age 26 but seems to have hit his peak at ages 27-28. The aging curve isn't perfect and correct in 100% of instances but is a general curve of the history of baseball. Being a year or 2 around the aging curve certainly helps support the aging curve as well even if it wasn't exactly at age 26. 

    • Dantes929, h2oface, Sconnie and 1 other like this
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puckstopper1
Jan 06 2020 01:48 PM

I like the thought that was put into this article.  

 

Yes - there are several examples / outliers that deter this, but there are many that reinforce the point, as well.

 

One - for example - Greg Maddux won his first Cy Young when he was 26.

 

BTW - is height *really* a huge factor?

 

Johan Santana, Maddux and Lincecum were pretty good and they are not that tall.

 

Not that I'm comparing Berrios to any of them, ability wise...

    • DocBauer and Matthew Taylor like this

I would take their results with a huge grain of salt, basically because their sample is a. small, and b. restricted to a period 10 seasons ago.

Their curve was introduced here, and here is how it was constructed:

 

 

 

For the aging curves, we compared pitcher seasons from 2002 to 2011 using fastball velocity (FBv) data from BIS. This means that we have more than just four-seam fastballs mixed into the sample for each pitcher. Ideally, we would have focused just on four-seam fastballs — but given that PITCHf/x only has been around since 2007 — this was necessary to get the volume of data required for the curves.

 

The other fail here is that they do not bother to show variation of range or even standard deviation from that data. Part of the issue here is that a lot of the pitchers who are not that great as starters just go away after age 26 or so (or they move to the pen; check Joe Nathan's or Glen Perkins's curves as starters - and both are included there.) Plus a lot of players just blow their arms.

 

So, to talk about quality pitchers and what an aging curve looks like for a good pitcher, it would have been more meaningful to get pitchers who have satisfied the following criteria:a. They pitched for more than 10 seasons, b. their ERA+/FIP- is on the top 25% of the pitchers, and then look what happens.

 

For every Greinke and Velander there are about 50 Duffys, Romeros, Guardados, Hawkinses, or Mayses, and including those pitchers in the graph, is just noise, not meaningful data...

 

 

    • USAFChief, dbminn and wabene like this

 

I think Jose Berrios would really benefit if we were somehow able to find the Nelson Cruz of pitchers.

 

Much like Miguel Sano, Berrios has all the talent in the world and could easily rattle off a handful of Cy Young Award-level seasons before he retires. Unfortunately he, much like Sano did prior to Cruz's arrival, seems to put too much pressure on himself and tends to fall apart physically, mentally, or both right when we need him the most.

 

If we find the pitching version of Nelson Cruz, I think we'll find we have a real ace in Berrios for the next handful of years.

Berrios was learning a lot for E Santana before he left.

 

I had a nice spreadsheet of comparative Berrios stats but I deleted it given the doom/gloom of TD.

 

Safe to say he has been an AL top 10 or just about over the last one or two seasons in just about any pitching stat you could want, old school or new school: ERA, K/9, K/BB, WHIP, FIP, he got it.

 

I think he is criminally underrated for a guy just months older than Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonslaves, Fernando Romero, or Griffin Jax.

    • wabene likes this

This study gives support to why I disagree with the oft touted declaration that a pitcher is "young" when they just get to the bigs at 26 or 27. They are not young, they just aren't that good, perhaps, and they are getting "old" in the minors! If they don't get to the show by their prime, is it just all down hill from there? Plus, it is so often found discouraging and a negative to sign the vet that is now old at 29 and 30, because they have been in the bigs since they were 22! So they are too old. 

 

I personally disagree with the assumptions. Many can be very good, and have their best years after 26, but this study is the kind of thing that is driving the market these days. But I don't consider a pitcher "young" if they don't get to the bigs by 26. Every case is unique, sure, but taken as a whole population, a study like this should indicate that too much time is wasted in "development" in the minors.

 

I sure hope the best 5-7 years of Berrios are yet to come.

    • Vanimal46 likes this
I "liked" the OP and the work that went in to it. And all the facts and statistics have their own place in regard to relevance.

MY OPINION is NOT based on ANY statistical evidence whatsoever. And I want to be clear on that.

MY OPINION is we haven't seen the best, or at least consistent best, of Berrios to this point. The kid has a tremendous work ethic and desire to compete and be good. I have stated before, with no proof or knowledge to say it is true, I wonder if he works too hard during the season and should back off some to maintain endurance and conditioning later in the season as it wears on. (Nothing wrong with his crazy bard workouts pre-season, IMO).

Is it possible he wants to be so good, so bad, that he hits a lull, maybe facing a team the 2nd or 3rd time with less result, and overthinks? Hmmm...maybe.

Despite seeing some truly awesome arms that arrive and then flame out, as well as a precious handful that arrive early and just seem to never really decline until late in their career, it has always been my opinion/observation over the years that an ACE caliber pitcher...however you want to define them, we seem to know it when we see them...comes when talent meets experience.

Just tossing out a few names without them having any bearing on Berrios himself, I recall Randy Johnson tantalizing but not hitting his stride until later, or the often mentioned Greinke having various issues before truly finding himself after a few years. Didn't someone just reference Cole hitting his stride after 26yo? (Too tired and lazy to quote, lol).

The whole point is, the talent and ethic is there, charts or no charts. Experience and talent should/could just be about ready to coalesce in to a FULL SEASON version of the Berrios we have already seen. And I want that guy to not only emerge, but to be kept around.
    • h2oface likes this

 

Max Scherzer has a far better history after age 36. The big thing with pitching is injuries . You can pick a trend and an age but injuries are more likely to be the cause of decline rather than just age

 

or 26.......;)

    • DocBauer and dbminn like this
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FormerMinnasotan
Jan 09 2020 02:47 PM
I hope it’s the case Berríos can improve to Ace like status this year. Not to sound homerish, but Berríos’ “stuff” is pretty elite IMO. Berríos’ issues come down to can he maintain himself mentally through an entire season. He has enough stamina to make it through the season as evidenced by no dips in his velocity from the beginning of the season to season’s end. What does seem to happen in his mid season “swoon” is his mechanics break down and he often appears flustered and frustrated with his mechanics breaking down. If he can either maintain his mechanics or find a way mentally to work through his struggles quicker and more efficiently then I think we’ve seen a true and legit Ace in Berríos.
    • DocBauer likes this