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Article: Five reasons re-signing Mike Pelfrey could be a steal

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#1 Thrylos

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 01:18 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...ould-be-a-steal
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#2 Dman

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 03:31 PM

I am a Pelfrey Believer and hope he proves his doubters wrong.

#3 Joe A. Preusser

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 03:35 PM

I have a nagging feeling that after this year we will all be wishing we'd locked him up for 5 years instead of 2. He will turn in a sub 4 ERA, possibly leading the staff (and that's actually saying something after all the guys we brought in).

#4 Lefty74

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 04:13 PM

I like the logic (and the optimism!). It is hard to find pitchers with Pelfrey's size, FB velo and overall stuff.

The other pitcher I believe will surprise in a positive manner is Gibson. He has very good velo and should be ready to make a big step up in 2014. I read the article stating he led the league in strikes being called balls......the umpires know this now and I think they will adjust. He has as much ability as any pitcher on the staff, now we need him to put it to good use!

#5 Trevor0333

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 07:11 PM

Do Genies grant 5 wishes?

#6 Thrylos

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 07:27 PM

Do Genies grant 5 wishes?


Depends. Jeannie granted unlimited wishes IIRC...
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#7 Major Leauge Ready

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 07:47 PM

I can't stand how slow he is but have no problem accepting all of the points made here. It would not surprise me if he significantly outperformed Hughes. They should have added a 3rd year team option. Having said this, I also would not be surprised if the change of scenery has a positive effect on Hughes.

#8 TwinVike61

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 08:24 PM

Excellent article Thrylos! I think we all thought he came back too soon last spring and would be viewed more favorably if he put those stinking April and May numbers in the minors first. If they had better options to trot out there to start last season like they do this year we would have a better opinion of Pelfry.

#9 Lonestar

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 09:15 PM

FWIW, a partial scouting report from Long Live Shea Stadium blog dated March 10, 2011-- just the bad part since Thrylos handled the Good.

The Bad: The biggest knock against "Big Pelf" is that he can't strike hitters out, and last year was no exception. His K/9 rate was below 5, and his career average is 5.1K/9. He simply doesn't have the ability to miss bats, and hitters only swung and miss 6% of the time last year; as a reference, league average was 8.5%. Still throws his fastball a lot (69%), because his slider is still a below-average major league pitch, and even though he added and threw his split finger last year (14% of the time), it wasn't a league average pitch. He started to throw a curve-ball a little more last year (5.5%) and that was a decent pitch for him.

http://longlivesheas...lfrey-2011.html

He's not going to master the change up at age 30. Perhaps he will master the splitter. Except the Twins eschew the splitter.

#10 stringer bell

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 10:21 PM

Pelfrey did strike out 6.0 batters per nine innings in 2013, probably reflective of the elevated K trend in mlb. IIRC, Pelf had the highest K rate of Twins starters--probably the ultimate "damning with faint praise".

#11 bertrecords

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Posted 25 December 2013 - 10:54 PM

The problem with this analysis is that Mike Pelfrey does not have excellent stuff and has never had excellent stuff. Velocity does not equal stuff. Over his career, he has one pitch that nets a positive linear weight score. That pitch is his fastball even though it did not give good results in 2013. The slider, despite the velocity has been a below average major league pitch if you add up his entire career. In 2007, 2009 and 2012, it was slightly above average probably due to luck. Pelfrey has never been a good major league pitcher because he has no pitches that create wins for his team. The place to see the data is at Fan Graphs under Pitcher Fx Pitch Values. http://www.fangraphs...5203&position=P Francisco Liriano is the pitcher with the great slider. Compare Liriano and Pelfrey's slider-- look at wSL/C -- and it is easy to see how Liriano was a winnel for the Pirates and how Pelfrey, unless he develops a pitch he has never had in his entire career, is destined to continue to be a loser for the Twins.

#12 Marta Shearing

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:17 AM

Coming back from TJ in 10 months is dang impressive. So many pitcher's rehabs are littered with setbacks and "shutting it down" when things dont feel quite right. Ask the Cubs about their dealings with a certain former Twins pitcher. Pelfrey's got guts. That counts for something in my book.

#13 h2oface

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 02:43 AM

Both Pelfrey and Nolasco have sabermetric stats that say they should be better than they actually performed/perform. I would take the stats saying they would be worse, but they perform better, instead. In a heartbeat. Coming back and pitching after TJ surgery so quickly will only impress me if they actually perform well. The first two months would have been just as well served in rehab, than pitching that poorly. I believe it takes just as much guts to be smart, and not hurt your team, as it does to play and hurt your team. Many players are dishonest about their injuries these days, and it does not help the team at all. Mostly it hurts the team.

Edited by h2oface, 26 December 2013 - 02:58 PM.


#14 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 08:14 AM

Thrylos, great take on Pelfrey. You're way more bullish on him than me but you have some valid points. Two things I think you missed though:

1. Given his age, I think it's unlikely that Mike will add a changeup. It's possible, though.

2. If he fails as a starter, he is a prime candidate for the bullpen. He's a big, hard-throwing righty that should be able to crank it up into the mid-90s from the pen. I doubt he'll be Glen Perkins but he should be more than serviceable in that role and at $5m a season, that's not an outrageous price to pay a guy who comes into the seventh or eighth inning for the team 60 times a season.

#15 jay

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 08:20 AM

The problem with this analysis is that Mike Pelfrey does not have excellent stuff and has never had excellent stuff.

Compare Liriano and Pelfrey's slider-- look at wSL/C -- and it is easy to see how Liriano was a winnel for the Pirates and how Pelfrey, unless he develops a pitch he has never had in his entire career, is destined to continue to be a loser for the Twins.


I was with you until that last sentence. You're right about his stuff and his slider, but he's also shown he can be a valuable contributor. He's not the next All-Star ace, but he has plenty of opportunity to provide surplus value at his $5.5M salary. I think he'll definitely outperform his salary over the next two years and it was a smart signing.

Everyone rode the Correia signing last year (myself as well) with a theme that signing him might be okay if he wasn't the "big" signing of the offseason. This year, Pelfrey (who is better than Correia) was the THIRD best signing. Let's keep the perspective straight here.

#16 Thrylos

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 09:30 AM

The problem with this analysis is that Mike Pelfrey does not have excellent stuff and has never had excellent stuff. Velocity does not equal stuff. Over his career, he has one pitch that nets a positive linear weight score. That pitch is his fastball even though it did not give good results in 2013. The slider, despite the velocity has been a below average major league pitch if you add up his entire career. In 2007, 2009 and 2012, it was slightly above average probably due to luck. .


I agree that velocity does not equal quality, as far as the fastball goes.

Look at the slider velocity chart and the 12 pitchers who have velocities in the neighborhood of Pelfrey's and give me one single mediocre pitcher. The issue is that he is not throwing it quite enough. As far as luck and wSL/C goes, it is the other way around, because wSL/C does not normalize for BABIP (so I take those measurements with a huge grain of salt.) His BABIP was the second highest in the majors last season and I suspect that is reflected.

The other reason I do not like the wPITCH/C measurement is that it is not significant enough in low count pitches. Example: in 2013 Pelfrey threw 2727 pitches. 10% or so or 272 are sliders. In the wSL/C (that bundles per 100 pitches, that is what the C is) the N=2.7 Not good. Think about it similarly to UZR/150, which needs a few seasons worth of data to be significant. Despite the high BABIP and the low confidence on the sample size, the 2013 wSL/C was 0.02 (league average) and his best pitch...

Third (and really important) : Cannot compare slider (or curveball or screwball for that matter) before and after TJ surgery. Different elbows. Pelfrey's slider before TJ averaged around 84 mph. Last season it was 86.3. Totally different beasts. So past performance and wSL/C values do not matter.
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#17 halfchest

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 09:41 AM

I'm happy with the signing due to the short term and price. The only thing I don't like about it is the opportunity cost. By doing this signing the Twins have limited themselves from picking up a bigger name like Garza, Ubaldo, etc. Probably means they weren't planning to get one of them anyhow though.

I guess if they find they can get a decent price on one of the free agent starters they could probably flip Correia pretty easily too though.

#18 bertrecords

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:24 AM

Look at the slider velocity chart and the 12 pitchers who have velocities in the neighborhood of Pelfrey's and give me one single mediocre pitcher. The issue is that he is not throwing it quite enough. As far as luck and wSL/C goes, it is the other way around, because wSL/C does not normalize for BABIP (so I take those measurements with a huge grain of salt.) His BABIP was the second highest in the majors last season and I suspect that is reflected.


Your analysis and understanding of the statistics is solid. The slider is 2 mph faster than it used to be. Pelfrey was unlucky last year. Does that make the slider an out pitch? Throughout Pelfrey's entire career, enough innings such that BABIP has averaged out, Pelfrey's slider has never been an out pitch. Baseball is a wonderful game. The unlikely can happen. Thank you for making a case for it. But, I will believe in Pelfrey's slider only after it becomes an out pitch. Not before.

#19 Andrew Bryz-Gornia

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:33 AM

One thing about Pelfrey's slider though - it's actually a cutter. I discovered this when I did a "look at all the cutters the Twins' staff throw!" for Twinkie Town early during the 2013 season: http://www.twinkieto...et-inefficiency

Here's the article I found that confirmed that Pelfrey was throwing a cutter rather than a slider: http://newyork.mets....ok_nym&c_id=nym

#20 DaNutz

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:51 AM

This falls into the category were everything in baseball can't be explained by numbers. Pelfrey's stuff just isn't very good no matter what velocity he is throwing at. You cannot be that unlucky for that long by accident. I do think his signing could end up being decent, but expecting anything beyond that is too much IMO. He is what his numbers have said over the course of his career.

#21 bertrecords

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 10:54 AM

Here's the article I found that confirmed that Pelfrey was throwing a cutter rather than a slider: http://newyork.mets....ok_nym&c_id=nym


Per Pitcher f/x (in Fangraphs, cited above), the slider was thrown 10.2% in 2013 and the cutter 8.6%. The slider was at 86.2 mph, the cutter at 75.7 mph. Pitch classification is tricky. I am not saying you should necessarily believe Pitcher f/x.

#22 Oxtung

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:01 PM

I was with you until that last sentence. You're right about his stuff and his slider, but he's also shown he can be a valuable contributor. He's not the next All-Star ace, but he has plenty of opportunity to provide surplus value at his $5.5M salary. I think he'll definitely outperform his salary over the next two years and it was a smart signing.

Everyone rode the Correia signing last year (myself as well) with a theme that signing him might be okay if he wasn't the "big" signing of the offseason. This year, Pelfrey (who is better than Correia) was the THIRD best signing. Let's keep the perspective straight here.


Let's keep the perspective straight, you're right. Pelfrey is a back of the rotation starter. So yes, he might outperform his salary, but what does that get the Twins? He will still be a below average pitcher over the length of his contract. When your team has a dearth of front of the rotation options and a glut of back of the rotation options signing Pelfrey makes little sense. Will he be better than Worley, Deduno, Hendriks, etc... perhaps but what exactly do the Twins gain by having a marginally better #5 starter?

#23 Willihammer

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:11 PM

The cutter/slider distinction is pretty semantic.

Posted Image

I believe Pitchf/x calls Peflrey's pitch a slider instead of a cutter because its quite a bit slower than his 4 seem. But its a pretty straight pitch, most people would call it a cutter. In fact its pretty much the straightest pitch of anyone on Thrylos' list.
[TABLE="width: 500"]
[TR]
[TD][TABLE="width: 325"]
[TR]
[TD]Name[/TD]
[TD]Team[/TD]
[TD]SL-X (pfx)[/TD]
[TD]SL-Z (pfx)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Matt Harvey[/TD]
[TD]Mets[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3.7[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Anibal Sanchez[/TD]
[TD]Tigers[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3.2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]0.7[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Madison Bumgarner[/TD]
[TD]Giants[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]0.4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Francisco Liriano[/TD]
[TD]Pirates[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]0.2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2.2[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Mat Latos[/TD]
[TD]Reds[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2.7[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.3[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Justin Verlander[/TD]
[TD]Tigers[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2.4[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2.4[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Homer Bailey[/TD]
[TD]Reds[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]0.3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2.1[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]John Lackey[/TD]
[TD]Red Sox[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3.3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.2[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Lance Lynn[/TD]
[TD]Cardinals[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]0.1[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.5[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Matt Cain[/TD]
[TD]Giants[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]1.2[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]2.2[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Yovani Gallardo[/TD]
[TD]Brewers[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]3.2[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Mike Pelfrey[/TD]
[TD]Twins[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]0.8[/TD]
[TD="align: right"]4.6[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
[/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD][/TD]
[TD][/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

#24 amjgt

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:23 PM

I think it needs to be said....

This thread is awesome

#25 DAM DC Twins Fans

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:37 PM

Good article Thrylos...I also like Pelfrey (especially on a reasonable contract).

Next year is the second back from Tommy John--so we should see Pelfrey at his best like last July. Unfortunately, he is a fly ball pitcher and still dealing with Arcia, Parmalee, Willingham, etc. in the corner OF spots. That will mean a higher BABIP. The hope for Pelfrey is the maturity of Hicks and Buxton enabling the Twins to finally get to a decent OF defense.

#26 John Bonnes

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 12:41 PM

I think it needs to be said....

This thread is awesome


You beat me to this by one an hour. I wholeheartedly agree. I like learning stuff about baseball and baseball players, and I'm doing so here.

#27 cmathewson

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 01:40 PM

Let's keep the perspective straight, you're right. Pelfrey is a back of the rotation starter. So yes, he might outperform his salary, but what does that get the Twins? He will still be a below average pitcher over the length of his contract. When your team has a dearth of front of the rotation options and a glut of back of the rotation options signing Pelfrey makes little sense. Will he be better than Worley, Deduno, Hendriks, etc... perhaps but what exactly do the Twins gain by having a marginally better #5 starter?


We won't be able to evaluate this contract for some time. I think you articulate the risks pretty well, though I don't think the three guys you mention are worth worrying about. Hendriks is on his second team since leaving the Twins. I'm sure there will be more. Worley and Diamond are heading for a similar fate regardless of whom they sign.

If he blocks Meyer, then it is a worry. Gibson is a push at this point and could become a worry in the near future. If they earn it, you make trades to make room for them.

If he outperfomrs his contract, he'll be very tradeable, as will Correia, when other teams start losing starters to injury. I think Thrylos articulated the likelihood of his outperforming the contract. In short, it's pretty good. I expect him to have decent trade value throughout his contract, which is another good source of talent long term. Short term, he'll give those guys a chance to develop.

To answer your question, they could gain a lot. Stable starters who eat innings don't just impact the games they pitch in but the whole pitching staff, especially the bullpen. After three years of using the #4 and #5 spots as tryouts for talent, I welcome some stability back there.
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#28 Boom Boom

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 02:14 PM

To answer your question, they could gain a lot. Stable starters who eat innings don't just impact the games they pitch in but the whole pitching staff, especially the bullpen. After three years of using the #4 and #5 spots as tryouts for talent, I welcome some stability back there.


Well... depending on where you rank Pelfrey among the Twins starters, he may be a 3 or even a 2. I think he's obviously a step down from Nolasco, but I'm not convinced he's worse than Correia or Hughes.

My point being that the back end of the rotation still isn't all that stable.

#29 jay

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 02:24 PM

Let's keep the perspective straight, you're right. Pelfrey is a back of the rotation starter. So yes, he might outperform his salary, but what does that get the Twins? He will still be a below average pitcher over the length of his contract. When your team has a dearth of front of the rotation options and a glut of back of the rotation options signing Pelfrey makes little sense. Will he be better than Worley, Deduno, Hendriks, etc... perhaps but what exactly do the Twins gain by having a marginally better #5 starter?


Pelfrey has a stronger track record, albeit not impressive, than any of the other back-end options. There's still room for one of them to make it in the rotation if they deserve it. If these last few years have proven anything, I think it's that a lot of these guys are replacement level. WAR is an easy snapshot. If Pelfrey continues to average 1.8 WAR (2008-2013, TJ 2012 excluded), it's not hard to see how that's good for the Twins even at $5.5M compared to his replacement-level counterparts.

The two-year deal makes this even more likely to turn out as a positive for the Twins. It also sets them up well with a departing starter for each of the next four years that they can fill from inside if there's a viable candidate.

#30 Thrylos

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 02:30 PM

One thing about Pelfrey's slider though - it's actually a cutter. I discovered this when I did a "look at all the cutters the Twins' staff throw!" for Twinkie Town early during the 2013 season: http://www.twinkieto...et-inefficiency

Here's the article I found that confirmed that Pelfrey was throwing a cutter rather than a slider: http://newyork.mets....ok_nym&c_id=nym


That is a 2011 article and indeed in 2011 and 2012 when with the Mets he threw a cutter, in addition to the slider. Fangraphs also has him throwing both pitches those seasons with the cutter being the least favorite of the two. That cutter was 2-3 mph faster than his slider then. He did not throw a single cutter in 2013.

Different pitches :)

Posted Image


Edit: This is a great gif that shows the difference between a cutter and a slider. And this slider is a lot like Pelfrey's (and Harvey's; with more vertical than horizontal movement) . Hope it works. Cutter on the left panel, slider on the right panel:

Posted Image

Edited by Thrylos, 26 December 2013 - 02:40 PM.

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