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


Vanimal46
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8 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

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.

I also co-sign! It's funny because people think that by saying he's not an ace is the same as saying "he's not good" and that's just not the case. Like many have stated in here, Berrios is a good pitcher but I don't want him headlining my rotation heading into a postseason.

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8 minutes ago, joefish said:

If the best pitcher on your team would also be the best pitcher on a different team, he would be in my definition of Ace. 

Exceptions allowed

I think that's a pretty low standard. I'd qualify it to say, if he's the best pitcher on your team, and would be the best pitcher on almost every team, over more than one season, he'd be an ace.

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I'm a "small hall" and "handful of aces" person. If I'm "ranking" pitchers in a staff I do it like this:

#5 pitchers (Happ, Dobnak, filler types you don't think twice about cutting and replacing with upcoming prospects, never want starting a playoff game)
#4 pitchers (veteran guys who will eat innings and keep you in more games than not, also easily replaced by upcoming prospects, but you expect to be in your rotation much of the season, never want starting a playoff game)
#3 pitchers (Pineda types you can count on to give you a solid outing almost every time, but don't have great "stuff" or K numbers, can count on them for a playoff start or 2, but don't want them starting games 1, 2 or 6, 7)
#2 pitchers (Odo, Maeda (in a normal year, not his stand out 2020) type guys who you count on to give you a good start every time out, but just don't have that last little bit to make them a #1 (usually lacking a little in the K department), can count on them in playoff games, but don't want them starting games 1 or 7)
#1 pitchers (Berrios types who go out every 5th day and give you a chance to win basically every time, have good stuff and rarely have terrible outings, but you also aren't totally shocked they had 3 or 4 starts a year that they gave up 7, can start any playoff game, but aren't "aces")
Aces (Verlander, Kershaw, Scherzer, Cole, deGrom types, only 5-10 of them in the game most of the time, are shocked when they give up more than 3 or 4 in any game or don't K at least 10 guys, go into every game expecting their team to win, want starting as many playoff games as possible)

I agree with most of the people here who say "Ace" is arbitrary and hard to truly define. I think it's more about the expectations you have for a guy. If I told you Berrios went 5 innings and gave up 5 with 8 Ks and an inning where he walked 2 and gave up 3 I don't think many people would be shocked. If I told you deGrom had those numbers I think most people would ask if he was hurt. But you also wouldn't be shocked if I told you Berrios went 7, gave up 2, had 11 Ks, and walked 1. But that's the expectation for deGrom, Kershaw, Verlander types. 

I think you can win a World Series with 2 #1s and 2 #2s, but it sure makes it a whole lot better if you're running out an "Ace" or 2. And if you have to run out more than 1 #3 in a playoff series you're probably in trouble, especially without an "Ace" or 2 to take the rest of the games. I'd be happy to go into a playoff series with 2 Berrios types and 2 Odo types. I think you can win a lot of series with that setup. And I think that's doable with an org with the Twins financial situation (whether it's cheap owners or the actuality of their finances).

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Been a lurker on this site for awhile but this definition of 'ace' finally motivated me to make an account. I have come up with a somewhat interesting way to define an "ace". It has to do with what I call a lockdown start. I define this as

5-6 IP: 0 ER, 7 IP: 0-1 ER, or 8-9 IP: 0-2 ER

If a pitcher has such a start in at least 25% of starts I consider that an 'ace' year. If a pitcher has done this in at least 2 out of their last 3 years I would call them an 'ace' pitcher.

With that your 2021 aces are:  (AL) Ray, Cole, Rodon, Bassitt, Eovaldi. (NL) Wheeler, Scherzer, Urias, Buehler, Miley, Burnes, Woodruff, Gausman, Wainwright, Alcantara, Desclafani,

Some notable exceptions: Peralta, Lynn, Ohtani, Kershaw (not enough IP) Musgrove, Stroman, Mccullers, Berrios (not enough lockdown starts)

One might ask, how is Eovaldi with his 3.58 ERA an ace but Stroman with his 2.88 ERA is not? Well that is where some other stats come in handy. Eovaldi leads the AL with a 2.72 FIP. Stroman has a 3.27.

I went with lockdown start as my metric because it evokes what a lot of us think of when we picture an 'ace'. Has a good chance to completely shutdown the opposing lineup everytime they take the mound. I quite literally have only had this idea in my head for the last 2 hours though so I'm sure there are holes and bad outliers, would love to hear further discussion.

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25 minutes ago, weneedneshek said:

Been a lurker on this site for awhile but this definition of 'ace' finally motivated me to make an account. I have come up with a somewhat interesting way to define an "ace". It has to do with what I call a lockdown start. I define this as

5-6 IP: 0 ER, 7 IP: 0-1 ER, or 8-9 IP: 0-2 ER

If a pitcher has such a start in at least 25% of starts I consider that an 'ace' year. If a pitcher has done this in at least 2 out of their last 3 years I would call them an 'ace' pitcher.

With that your 2021 aces are:  (AL) Ray, Cole, Rodon, Bassitt, Eovaldi. (NL) Wheeler, Scherzer, Urias, Buehler, Miley, Burnes, Woodruff, Gausman, Wainwright, Alcantara, Desclafani,

Some notable exceptions: Peralta, Lynn, Ohtani, Kershaw (not enough IP) Musgrove, Stroman, Mccullers, Berrios (not enough lockdown starts)

One might ask, how is Eovaldi with his 3.58 ERA an ace but Stroman with his 2.88 ERA is not? Well that is where some other stats come in handy. Eovaldi leads the AL with a 2.72 FIP. Stroman has a 3.27.

I went with lockdown start as my metric because it evokes what a lot of us think of when we picture an 'ace'. Has a good chance to completely shutdown the opposing lineup everytime they take the mound. I quite literally have only had this idea in my head for the last 2 hours though so I'm sure there are holes and bad outliers, would love to hear further discussion.

Welcome to TD! Please, keep 'em coming ... be a lurker no more! :) 

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I will add one more part to this discussion.  A lot of pitchers can have "ace" like seasons but I wouldn't call them an "ace." 

For example, in 2001, Joe Mays threw 233+ innings, (3rd in the AL), led the league in ERA+, and posted a 6.6 WAR season. That's an absolute ace season. And before his injury, he was a good pitcher, but he wasn't an "ace". And this year, Lance Lynn will likely finish the season with his second 6+ WAR season. I still wouldn't call him an ace even though he's had three straight pretty good seasons.

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7 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

Welcome to TD! Please, keep 'em coming ... be a lurker no more! :) 

Will do, thanks for the welcome! A couple of errors in my original post, Rodon actually should not qualify due to IP (man the AL is short on aces). Also deGrom should obviously be in the exceptions due to IP as well.

Cheers!

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Sadly, we must have "the talk" now.

The term "ace" has different meanings depending on the context. In Houston, it means Justin Verlander. In various places it used to mean Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, etc. Even in Minnesota, we have had "ace" pitchers like Blyleven, Liriano, Viola, etc. 

Berrios isn't an ace in that sense. He has bad innings too often between his dominant ones. Top aces have bad innings, too. But that doesn't happen every game or so. Top aces don't carry an ERA above 4. If Jose Berrios is an ace, it's in the small market sense of the word. He had the best raw stuff on the staff, but he never kept it together for a full season of dominance. 

Happily, the Twins now have a young pitcher that may fit the big market definition of an ace. Joe Ryan looks to be the real deal. In contrast, Berrios is Brad Radke with a little more flash and dash.

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50 minutes ago, weneedneshek said:

Been a lurker on this site for awhile but this definition of 'ace' finally motivated me to make an account. I have come up with a somewhat interesting way to define an "ace". It has to do with what I call a lockdown start. I define this as

5-6 IP: 0 ER, 7 IP: 0-1 ER, or 8-9 IP: 0-2 ER

If a pitcher has such a start in at least 25% of starts I consider that an 'ace' year. If a pitcher has done this in at least 2 out of their last 3 years I would call them an 'ace' pitcher.

Thanks for sharing!

Are you able to use Baseball Reference's "Stathead" or some other tool to easily list these pitchers?

https://stathead.com/

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To me an ace is a guy you trust that if they get in trouble in the 3rd - 6th innings you let them pitch out of it because you know nobody in your bullpen is anywhere near as good as them even if they are having an off day.

Expectation is they have a quality start every game, but really are hoping for that 7,8,9 innings where they give up one of two runs.

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44 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

Thanks for sharing!

Are you able to use Baseball Reference's "Stathead" or some other tool to easily list these pitchers?

https://stathead.com/

Never used anything like that and don't have a subscription, but I can look more into it! I just went through leaderboards and game logs to tally this years numbers by hand.

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36 minutes ago, weneedneshek said:

Never used anything like that and don't have a subscription, but I can look more into it! I just went through leaderboards and game logs to tally this years numbers by hand.

I don't have a subscription either. Just gauging how useful it would be to have one! :)

Looks like you could use it to get separate lists for each of your 3 start definitions (5-6 IP: 0 ER, 7 IP: 0-1 ER, or 8-9 IP: 0-2 ER) but you'd have to merge them and calculate the percentage of total starts on your own, I guess.

https://stathead.com/baseball/game_finder.cgi?type=p

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17 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

 

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.

 

This is the kind of thinking the Twins have used for quite some time. And it is also a reason IMO why they haven't won in the postseason. This kind of stuff DOES matter whether it fits nicely into a stats notebook or not. 

Postseason ball you throw stats out the window. Then it comes down to stuff, guts, moxie, etc. 

I like Berrios. I think he was as close to an ACE as we've had since Santana. That said, he didn't win a playoff game. The best win in the playoffs no matter what their offense does. If the offense scores 2, then they give up 0-1. Offense gets 4, then they give up 1-3.

 

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40 minutes ago, Battle ur tail off said:

I like Berrios. I think he was as close to an ACE as we've had since Santana. That said, he didn't win a playoff game. The best win in the playoffs no matter what their offense does. If the offense scores 2, then they give up 0-1. Offense gets 4, then they give up 1-3.

By this definition, Johan was not an ace, either.

Postseason Pitching
Year Age Tm Lg Series Rslt Opp W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP BK WP BF WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W WPA cWPA
2002 23 MIN AL ALDS W OAK 0 0   6.00 2 0 0 0 0 0 3.0 3 2 2 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 14 1.667 9.0 0.0 6.0 6.0 1.00 0.03 0.0%
2002 23 MIN AL ALCS L ANA 0 1 .000 10.80 4 0 0 0 0 0 3.1 4 4 4 1 0 0 4 0 0 2 14 1.200 10.8 2.7 0.0 10.8   -0.30 -3.9%
2003 24 MIN AL ALDS L NYY 0 1 .000 7.04 2 2 0 0 0 0 7.2 9 6 6 0 3 1 6 0 0 0 34 1.565 10.6 0.0 3.5 7.0 2.00 0.02 -0.7%
2004 25 MIN AL ALDS L NYY 1 0 1.000 0.75 2 2 0 0 0 0 12.0 14 1 1 0 4 0 12 1 0 0 51 1.500 10.5 0.0 3.0 9.0 3.00 0.67 6.7%
                                                                         
2006 27 MIN AL ALDS L OAK 0 1 .000 2.25 1 1 0 0 0 0 8.0 5 2 2 1 1 0 8 0 0 0 30 0.750 5.6 1.1 1.1 9.0 8.00 0.16 1.6%
4 Yrs (5 Series)   1 3 .250 3.97 11 5 0 0 0 0 34.0 35 15 15 2 10 1 32 1 0 2 143 1.324 9.3 0.5 2.6 8.5 3.20 0.58 3.6%
4 ALDS   1 2 .333 3.23 7 5 0 0 0 0 30.2 31 11 11 1 10 1 28 1 0 0 129 1.337 9.1 0.3 2.9 8.2 2.80 0.88 7.5%
1 ALCS   0 1 .000 10.80 4 0 0 0 0 0 3.1 4 4 4 1 0 0 4 0 0 2 14 1.200 10.8 2.7 0.0 10.8   -0.30 -3.9%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/20/2021.
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1. A pitcher good enough to be the #1 starter on most teams. Based on usage, I'd say maybe a top-15 pitcher. Someone good enough that you could trade them for any other pitcher and it wouldn't meaningfully improve your playoff chances.

2. It's also completely OK to call the team's #1` starting pitcher the team's "ace" regardless of how they stack up against other teams' pitching. Even if you wouldn't say "Kenta Maeda is an ace," you can still say "Kenta Maeda is Minnesota's ace" and it's completely appropriate.

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Someone who provides an advantage in top-of-the rotation postseason matchups.

And significantly enhances the teams odds of winning random matchups during the regular season. I think that is true even with ‘great’ pitchers only going 6-7 innings.

Berrios is not an ace. But I do think he’s still young and that 2021 could be a step toward that status.

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On 9/19/2021 at 3:32 PM, Vanimal46 said:

My position is he’s a top 30 pitcher in baseball.

Martin better be good to great. I have no confidence SWR is going to contribute anything at the MLB level in the next calendar year. If ever. 

I agree that Berrios is a top 30 guy…at least that’s what he’s been in 2021…and he’s definitely young enough to improve going forward.

But, if you don’t like this trade, does that mean you’d rather have had the only likely alternatives in the real world: trading him in the off-season or at next year’s deadline for LESS value? Because, otherwise you’d have to believe that Berrios represented the difference between what we’ve seen this year and serious pennant contention in 2022.

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2 hours ago, jkcarew said:

I agree that Berrios is a top 30 guy…at least that’s what he’s been in 2021…and he’s definitely young enough to improve going forward.

But, if you don’t like this trade, does that mean you’d rather have had the only likely alternatives in the real world: trading him in the off-season or at next year’s deadline for LESS value? Because, otherwise you’d have to believe that Berrios represented the difference between what we’ve seen this year and serious pennant contention in 2022.

Yes, I would have rather kept him through 2022. If we had been in this same situation staring at a losing season in July, I will reluctantly trade him then. I think it will be quite difficult replacing his 3 WAR baseline for $9-12 million (the price of his arb 3 season). 

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Sorry, not gonna read 81 posts worth: will simply repost what I've said in the past:

Berrios was routinely top 10 in the AL in IP, W, ERA, K, all the numbers us old school guys rely on.

To me an ace: an elite ace? No. An ace nonetheless.

Ace: n. reliably above average performer., usually the top performer on a given team.

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The way I see it, as a top 30 pitcher, he's a #1.. If he's on the lower half of top 30, then he's not an ace. Bottom line, he's a pitcher anyone would want and certainly a guy I wouldn't be afraid to hand a playoff start to, no matter what the game number.

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8 hours ago, Monkeypaws said:

Sorry, not gonna read 81 posts worth: will simply repost what I've said in the past:

Berrios was routinely top 10 in the AL in IP, W, ERA, K, all the numbers us old school guys rely on.

To me an ace: an elite ace? No. An ace nonetheless.

Ace: n. reliably above average performer., usually the top performer on a given team.

While he has often placed #11-20 in the above stats, previous to 2021 Jose Berrios never finished in the top ten of Wins, Strikeouts, or ERA in the American League. 

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21 hours ago, Matthew Lenz said:

I also co-sign! It's funny because people think that by saying he's not an ace is the same as saying "he's not good" and that's just not the case. Like many have stated in here, Berrios is a good pitcher but I don't want him headlining my rotation heading into a postseason.

Two things, quibbles I guess because I largely agree with the analysis:

1. Part of why people hear "he's not good" is because the term "ace" is often weaponized against good pitchers to diminish them.  I often feel "ace" is defined in such a way that it is purposely unattainable.  Even when we had Johan we didn't fully appreciate how great an "ace" he was.  For the record, I don't think this is done with malice or intent, but nevertheless the effect in discussion has a an unfair slant IMO.

2. I'll note again - in the postseason the idea that you win with aces is overstated.  Some of the best pitching performances of the last 20 years in the postseason were by dudes who were in street clothes or struggling to keep a job only a few years later.  

Take 2019: Cole and Scherzer were great....but so was Mikolas and the Great Anibal Sanchez.  2018?  Joulys Chacin, Wade Miley, and Nathan Eovaldi.  You can look at every postseason and see that often it isn't the "ace" that pitches like one in the postseason.  I've long felt we put far too much emphasis on one dude who pitches three times in a series vs. a deep pitching roster that can flexibly pitch in every game, in many situations.  (Think...the Brewers in 2018 or the Royals deep bullpen, etc)

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

While he has often placed #11-20 in the above stats, previous to 2021 Jose Berrios never finished in the top ten of Wins, Strikeouts, or ERA in the American League. 

I went back and looked and you are correct. Don't know how I got that thought into my head.

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2 minutes ago, Monkeypaws said:

I went back and looked and you are correct. Don't know how I got that thought into my head.

Well, if you use ERA+, he was in 2019. That's generally better than just ERA. But, yeah. His ERA was always a bit higher than you'd think. 

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3 minutes ago, Monkeypaws said:

I went back and looked and you are correct. Don't know how I got that thought into my head.

You weren't far off, he placed close to the top ten a bunch of times. I just wanted to clarify the point a bit, as many will view "top ten" and "top twenty" quite differently when speaking in the context of ace pitchers.

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11 hours ago, Monkeypaws said:

Berrios was routinely top 10 in the AL in IP, W, ERA, K, all the numbers us old school guys rely on.

 

2 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

While he has often placed #11-20 in the above stats, previous to 2021 Jose Berrios never finished in the top ten of Wins, Strikeouts, or ERA in the American League. 

B-Ref has Berrios with a couple top 10 AL ranks in those categories, prior to 2021:

9th in wins in 2017
8th in ERA (and 9th in ERA+) in 2019

And 11th in total K's in both 2018 and 2019 too.

Plus 8th in IP for both 2018 and 2019, I think that's pretty close to the characterization "routinely top 10". Keep in mind Berrios started 2017 in the minors, so 2018 was his first full MLB season.

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