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How do you define "ace" and is Jose Berríos one?


Vanimal46
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Jose Berrios is an excellent MLB starting pitcher and his ability to take the ball every time his turn comes up is laudable. We won't be confusing Berrios with Max Scherzer as an absolute ace but he is really good and I'm at a loss to understand why everyone doesn't understand his importance to a team that wants to win.

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11 minutes ago, tony&rodney said:

Jose Berrios is an excellent MLB starting pitcher and his ability to take the ball every time his turn comes up is laudable. We won't be confusing Berrios with Max Scherzer as an absolute ace but he is really good and I'm at a loss to understand why everyone doesn't understand his importance to a team that wants to win.

Oh, he is vitally important to winning. The Twins' chances for 2022 took a nosedive the moment Jose left for Toronto.

I still think it was a pretty good deal for the Twins (and hopefully the Jays, too) but the reality is that it did serious damage to their ability to compete next season.

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I guess that I never considered Berrios an ace or a bulldog.  I view an ace as a stopper that I could depend on without question to stop a losing skid and to take the ball every 5th day.  With that said, there simply aren't that many aces in today's game.  I like Berrios and think he's a good pitcher that I wish were still here, but I don't see him as anything more than a #2 starter on a good staff.  He's one of those "staff aces" that he can anchor an average or poor staff, but not a good playoff team staff.  A true ace can dominate a playoff game, and he's been outdualed his fair share.

All that said, he was dependable and could be trusted to take the ball every 5th day.  But I never looked at him as a true stopper or a guy to even give the bullpen a day off.  Still, I'd rather have him than not.

Admittedly, by that definition, a true ace is probably a dinosaur I'm today's game.  But there are still several left.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

To put this in a different context...

From 1996-2001, Brad Radke posted a 118 ERA+.

From 2017-2021, Jose Berrios posted a 118 ERA+.

(the symmetry here is unexpected but I thought it'd be close, which is why I looked it up in the first place)

Do we remember Radke as an ace for a postseason team? Probably not, which is why I view Berríos as the type of guy you love to be starting the second game of a series in October but not fronting the rotation.

I truly believe my view and many of the views here have been skewed because of how close we are to the Twins. Berrios was a hell of a pitcher, but because I watched him so often I remember how often he'd start an inning with a walk and by the end of the inning he'd given up 3 runs. Probably the only 3 runs of the game but that memory of the walk would stick with me.

I hope he gets his money, but I don't know if I'd want the Twins being the team to give him big money.

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1 minute ago, a-wan said:

I truly believe my view and many of the views here have been skewed because of how close we are to the Twins. Berrios was a hell of a pitcher, but because I watched him so often I remember how often he'd start an inning with a walk and by the end of the inning he'd given up 3 runs. Probably the only 3 runs of the game but that memory of the walk would stick with me.

I hope he gets his money, but I don't know if I'd want the Twins being the team to give him big money.

I'd show no hesitation to give Berrios money but it wouldn't be for "ace" performance. It'd be for "very good" performance and rock-solid health.

But if Berrios will return to Minnesota for five years, $125m, I'd do that without thinking hard about it. I'd count on him being a very good pitcher who wins the team a lot of games over 162 but maybe doesn't have the peak performance of an equivalent pitcher with more health concerns.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

To put this in a different context...

From 1996-2001, Brad Radke posted a 118 ERA+.

From 2017-2021, Jose Berrios posted a 118 ERA+.

(the symmetry here is unexpected but I thought it'd be close, which is why I looked it up in the first place)

Do we remember Radke as an ace for a postseason team? Probably not, which is why I view Berríos as the type of guy you love to be starting the second game of a series in October but not fronting the rotation.

Wow, okay ... that is such an apt comparison. A solid pitcher, a good pitcher, one you want to pitch, one you want on your team, but maybe not the best pitcher in your rotation (on a good team), but still one who gives your team a chance to win. Santana was a true no. 1 ... Berrios a no. 2. I don't know about 'ace', but I guess if I call anyone that, it's a shut down pitcher, like Santana. That isn't Berrios. Doesn't mean you don't want Berrios in the rotation. Doesn't mean Berrios won't become that, but at this point, I think he is what he's always been, a solid, good pitcher ... nothing more, nothing less. But not great.

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2 hours ago, wsnydes said:

I guess that I never considered Berrios an ace or a bulldog.  I view an ace as a stopper that I could depend on without question to stop a losing skid and to take the ball every 5th day.  With that said, there simply aren't that many aces in today's game.  I like Berrios and think he's a good pitcher that I wish were still here, but I don't see him as anything more than a #2 starter on a good staff.  He's one of those "staff aces" that he can anchor an average or poor staff, but not a good playoff team staff.  A true ace can dominate a playoff game, and he's been outdualed his fair share.

All that said, he was dependable and could be trusted to take the ball every 5th day.  But I never looked at him as a true stopper or a guy to even give the bullpen a day off.  Still, I'd rather have him than not.

Admittedly, by that definition, a true ace is probably a dinosaur I'm today's game.  But there are still several left.

He’s had literally 3 playoff starts. Giving up 1 ER in each of his last 2 starts (9 IP).  I guess it’s easy to get outdueled when your offense fails to show up to the ball field. 

 

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Ace is too tough to define, except in retrospect. Yes, there a few pitchers who catch our attention such as Max Scherzer and in the recent past pitchers like Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw. Jose Berrios ranks in the top twenty in numerous pitching categories: innings, WHIP, baa to name a few. How do we define "ace"? How many pitchers qualify as an ace? If it is the top 30 starting pitchers or one per team, then Jose is an ace. 

I hope the Twins offer him 6/$150 million if they get a chance. 

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20 minutes ago, Vanimal46 said:

He’s had literally 3 playoff starts. Giving up 1 ER in his last 2 starts (9 IP).  I guess it’s easy to get outdueled when your offense fails to show up to the ball field. 

Berrios was bad in 2017, as was "veteran" Santana, but Berrios was quite good afterward.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd pay Berrios because he's the type of guy who is most likely to give you 33 starts of way above average ball in the regular season and that helps you get to the postseason....

But in the postseason, I'd consider him a good #2 starter because his upside isn't great against other postseason teams. His value comes from his consistency.

The other side of that coin is that I'll take Berrios being a rotation stalwart to get me to the postseason versus the insignificant disadvantage he has on a per-game basis to face another excellent pitcher in the postseason. Because, in a single game, a pitcher that gives you a 68% chance to win versus a pitcher that gives you a 56% chance to win simply doesn't matter. Getting there is the important thing because wild variance of chance rules the day in the postseason. And that's not even factoring in that Berrios' health makes him more likely to actually start a postseason game in the first place, which makes his "above average" ball even more valuable.

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1 minute ago, tony&rodney said:

Ace is too tough to define, except in retrospect. Yes, there a few pitchers who catch our attention such as Max Scherzer and in the recent past pitchers like Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw. Jose Berrios ranks in the top twenty in numerous pitching categories: innings, WHIP, baa to name a few. How do we define "ace"? How many pitchers qualify as an ace? If it is the top 30 starting pitchers or one per team, then Jose is an ace. 

I hope the Twins offer him 6/$150 million if they get a chance. 

As I've mentioned multiple times, "ace" is entirely subjective and we all define it our own ways. As you later pointed out, sign the man if possible is your stance and I can't disagree with that.

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Jose Berrios is a really good pitcher.  "Ace" just seems like a thing we too frequently use to demean really good pitchers because they aren't a life altering Randy Johnson in their prime.  Because, well, almost no one is so the criticism often becomes mean spirited.  Not always, but it sure feels like it.  Scott Baker got the same treatment during his stretch as a really good pitcher for us.

Additionally, I'd say the Aceiest Ace of all the Aces in baseball the last ten years (Kershaw) has been consistently mediocre to awful in the postseason.  And that is typically a quality people associate with earning that label.  Yet, many definitions of "ace" would purposely not count him.

It's ok to have your own ace definition, I just wish people would understand their definition and apply it fairly.  It's ok to want a dominant, intimidating, Johan-level dude fronting your rotation.  They just number in one or two handfuls most seasons leaguewide and are virtually unattainable if you didn't develop them yourself.

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Couple different ways to define ace. This is a good although dated article from about 10 years ago and, especially for prospects, I think it's pretty good way to judge them.

Since 2017, Berrios is #1 in the AL in innings pitched and games started (Kyle Gibson is second in both). And Sale, Verlander and Cole are ahead of him in fWAR (he's tied with Lynn). If we include NL pitchers, he's 8th, 9th, and 15th in IP, starts, fWAR.  So he's been pretty good.

I'm in the camp that thinks there might only be a handful of true aces at any time but that pitching in the AL is a lot harder than pitching in the NL. I don't think Berrios is an ace but he's a #1 pitcher on many teams and, if he was your best pitcher, you could still win in the post-season. (He was pulled after 88 pitches and 4 innings in 2019. In 2020, he was pulled after 75 pitches in 5 innings against the Astros).

He sorta reminds me of an "in his prime" (79-87) Jack Morris. An innings eater who will give up a few more runs than you'd expect but is really valuable to the rotation and the team. The eras are different, obviously, but it seems similar to me.

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3 minutes ago, gunnarthor said:

He sorta reminds me of an "in his prime" (79-87) Jack Morris. An innings eater who will give up a few more runs than you'd expect but is really valuable to the rotation and the team. The eras are different, obviously, but it seems similar to me.

My first reaction, since I hate Jack Morris was blah. But their ERA+ during the good years for Morris is close to Berrios. And the good pitcher who gives up more runs than they should is an apt description. 

I think Brock has me convinced that signing Berrios is a good thing for the Twins, he just can't be the best pitcher on a really good team.

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1 minute ago, Rosterman said:

Who would you consider the last of the Twins aces?

 

 

Berrios. Before him Gibson and Hughes. Before that we had Baker. SLowey, Blackburn, Liriano? Santana and Silva? Radke, Lohse, Milton. Mays. Tapani? Erickson. Blyleven??????

I'd say Santana was the last ace.

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8 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

He’s had literally 3 playoff starts. Giving up 1 ER in each of his last 2 starts (9 IP).  I guess it’s easy to get outdueled when your offense fails to show up to the ball field. 

 

He's taken the loss in all 3 of his playoff appearances.  Part of being an ace, in my view, is going out and shutting down the opposing offense like his counterpart did.  

To me, that's what sets an ace and a Berrios apart.  He didn't necessarily pitch poorly, but he was still losing when he left the game.

That's why I don't believe that there are many in the game anymore.

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5 hours ago, wsnydes said:

He's taken the loss in all 3 of his playoff appearances.  Part of being an ace, in my view, is going out and shutting down the opposing offense like his counterpart did.  

To me, that's what sets an ace and a Berrios apart.  He didn't necessarily pitch poorly, but he was still losing when he left the game.

Berrios left his last two playoff appearances (and his only 2 playoff starts) with the game tied, and left no baserunners either. No decision in both.

His first playoff appearance, he did leave while trailing and was credited with the loss, although it was in long relief of Ervin Santana, rather than a start. (FWIW, Berrios also started that 2017 season in the minors too. Not sure how much it should count against him, relative to the later appearances and accomplishments.)

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13 hours ago, Vanimal46 said:

He’s had literally 3 playoff starts. Giving up 1 ER in each of his last 2 starts (9 IP).  I guess it’s easy to get outdueled when your offense fails to show up to the ball field. 

 

He's only made two starts but has three appearances. Very convenient to shrink an already small sample (3 games) into an even smaller sample, especially when that game you decided to leave out he gave up three earned runs in three innings. I do love that now you want to blame the offense who scored 1 run but wanted to credit Berrios for the win yesterday when his offense gave him a 5-run cushion before he threw a pitch.

BUT I'll play your game and focus on only his two starts, and we can even blame the 1st appearance to him not being a reliever. The fact that he only lasted 4.0 and 5.0 innings in those starts is a massive issue for me. That "ace" or "bulldog" you are obsessed with defining would give you at least 6 but really you hope for even more given the magnitude of the game. Before you blame Baldelli, remember the narrative that he pulls pitchers early has already been debunked. At the end of 2020, the Twins starting pitchers had the 7th most innings pitched since Baldelli took over.

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2 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

Berrios left his last two playoff appearances (and his only 2 playoff starts) with the game tied, and left no baserunners either. No decision in both.

His first playoff appearance, he did leave while trailing and was credited with the loss, although it was in long relief of Ervin Santana, rather than a start. (FWIW, Berrios also started that 2017 season in the minors too. Not sure how much it should count against him, relative to the later appearances and accomplishments.)

The fact he left after 4 and 5 innings is a problem for me. Ultimately it didn't matter because the offense didn't produce, but if he's the pitcher that some people think he is, I need at least 6 innings.

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11 hours ago, Rosterman said:

Who would you consider the last of the Twins aces?

 

 

Berrios. Before him Gibson and Hughes. Before that we had Baker. SLowey, Blackburn, Liriano? Santana and Silva? Radke, Lohse, Milton. Mays. Tapani? Erickson. Blyleven??????

You named a bunch of Twins #1 starters, many of whom would be middle to bottom of the rotation arms on most teams.

To answer your question, the last ace was Johan Santana. You handed him the ball and had confidence your team was going to win.

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14 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

Berrios left his last two playoff appearances (and his only 2 playoff starts) with the game tied, and left no baserunners either. No decision in both.

His first playoff appearance, he did leave while trailing and was credited with the loss, although it was in long relief of Ervin Santana, rather than a start. (FWIW, Berrios also started that 2017 season in the minors too. Not sure how much it should count against him, relative to the later appearances and accomplishments.)

You are correct.  I was on mobile and read the b-r table incorrectly.  Thanks for pointing that out.

I would agree, that the two starts mean more than the relief appearance.  None of this really changes my overall view though.  

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I'd use Cy Young votes. If you consistently receive Cy Young (or even MVP) votes in today's game, you're an ace. Berrios is a really, really good pitcher but has never received Cy Young votes. 

Just to name a few in the game right now: Scherzer, Cole, Bieber, Degrom, Lynn, Kershaw, Wheeler, Bauer, Buehler, Burnes. Until 2020 Verlander and Kluber were obviously in that category as well.  

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I did some research into my own questions around this a few years ago and I noticed some pretty distinct break lines between pitchers having a career year, mid rotation arms and "aces." Aces are consistent. They almost never give up 5+ runs in a game. A mid rotation type pitcher will have a streak of at least 3-4 games in a row without having a non-quality start as defined by 6.0+ innings and an ERA of less than 4.00 (3 ER starts need to go 7.0 IP+ to meet that definition). Ace pitchers are usually 5+ games at least once during the season.

Zack Wheeler - Wheeler has only allowed 5+ runs twice. The 8 game streak of quality starts makes it clear though, it's not luck driven, he's the real deal.

  • 1 QS, 3 NQ
  • 1 QS, 1 NQ
  • 8 QS, 1 NQ
  • 2 QS, 2 NQ
  • 1 QS, 4 NQ
  • 2 QS, 1 NQ

Max Scherzer - Again, only 2 games allowed all year with 5+ runs and a 5+ game quality start streak.

  • 0 QS, 1 NQ
  • 3 QS, 1 NQ
  • 2 QS, 2 NQ
  • 2 QS, 2 NQ
  • 2 QS, 2 NQ
  • 4 QS, 1 NQ - 1 game 3.1 inning game 0 ER shortened by rain
  • 5 QS, 0 NQ

Berrios - Berrios is awfully close to meeting the definition. He's only had 2 games giving up 5+ runs this year and 2 of his last 5 starts have been 6.2 IP with 3 ER = 4.05 ERA. All he needed was 0.1 IP more in each of those without giving up a run and he'd have 5 consecutive starts doing that. Still, Berrios isn't quite as rock solid as what somebody might expect of an Ace; I think he's a very good pitcher, but just not the kind of guy you really want leading your rotation in the playoffs.

  • 1 QS, 4 NQ
  • 1 QS, 3 NQ
  • 1 QS, 1 NQ
  • 1 QS, 1 NQ
  • 1 QS, 1 NQ
  • 1 QS, 2 NQ
  • 3 QS, 3 NQ
  • 1 QS, 1 NQ
  • 2 QS, 1 NQ
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9 minutes ago, Matthew Lenz said:

The fact he left after 4 and 5 innings is a problem for me. Ultimately it didn't matter because the offense didn't produce, but if he's the pitcher that some people think he is, I need at least 6 innings.

It's fair to want more innings, but Berrios only threw 88 and 75 pitches in those two starts. 88 in 4 IP (vs NYY) isn't great but he set down the side in order on 12 pitches in his final inning -- it's not like he forced the Twins to remove him after 4 (although he likely wasn't going 6). And 75 in 5 IP (vs HOU) is pretty normal for any good pitcher -- his last inning saw a leadoff single stranded, 14 pitches thrown. It's certainly not Berrios's fault that he was removed at that point in that particular game.

I'm not arguing Berrios is an ace -- I co-sign the Radke comp, a quality starting pitcher but ideally more of a postseason #2 -- but I'm also not sure how much his postseason record to date should be held against him.

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