Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

DEBATE: Jorge López - was his year just a mirage? (debate concluded, poll/thread open)


Debate: Jorge López - was his year just a mirage?  

26 members have voted

  1. 1. Which debater was more persuasive?

    • Debater A: Yes, López was a mirage, and the Twins should move on.
      7
    • Debater B: No, López will return to be a good reliever.
      17
    • It was a tie! Both were equally persuasive!
      2


Recommended Posts

OPENING STATEMENT:

Watching the Twins BP for the last few years has been painful.  After years of Nathan, Aquilera, Worthington, Reardon, Guardado, Rogers, and Perkins come in and deliver in the clutch we have shifted to picking up veterans who the opposing clubs were happy to see go.  We went with Alex Colome who had just had the fewest inning pitched since his rookie year.  Sure, we could turn things around we then give him more innings than he had pitched since 2015.  It did not work, he cost us too many wins in the first half of the season to allow us to have a good year. 

Did we learn?  No.  We next go for Emilio Pagan because he has a live arm and we can fix him.  Did we?  No.  Twins fans had to have a bottle of Ibuprofen on hand for the headaches he gave them, and a bottle of whisky to numb the psychic damage.  Stats could not cover the frustration – walks, key runs, runners on base, HRs allowed. WAR of -0.4 which was rescued by late season low wattage innings.  ERA+ 87.   HRs per nine – 1.7 which was way down from the year before – I guess we did fix something.  On BR they have a stat called RE24 which means given runners on base on many runs did the pitcher save – how good was he at stopping a potential rally?  Zero is average and anything above 0 is better than average.  The score for Pagan was -4.2. 

The FO saw the error of their ways and went for a trade to get Jorge Lopez because he actually had a great first half.  Unfortunately, he did not have a great second half. Let’s look at the two halves of the season.  

Stat

Orioles

Twins

FIP

2.99

4.35

WHIP

0.972

1.635

SO/W

3.18

1.29

HITS/9

5.6

9.1

ERA

1.68

4.37

 

Sometimes midnight comes early and turns the player back to a pumpkin.  Was this just change of scenery or was this reality coming back to bite the Twins.  Why did we think the first half was going to be the future?  His first half stats were way better than anything he had shown in the past six years.  His seven-year ERA is 5. 45.  His WAR was 1.9 with the Orioles.  After the second half with the Twins it was 1.8.  and his WAR in those six years was positive only once 0.1.  Why did we think he was the answer?

Now the question is – do we count on him for meaningful appearances in 2023?  My answer is no.  History has shown us his true performance rate and we saw it for ourselves as he reverted to the norm.  Let’s put the effort into Duran, Alcala, Thielbar, Jax and find another live arm.  Sure we can still keep Lopez, but he fills non crucial innings in  my BP (and don’t even ask about Pagan).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OPENING STATEMENT:

Jorge López had a career breakthrough in 2022. He was properly named an All Star after putting together an otherworldly first half of the season as the Orioles' closer. His numbers were excellent--.925 WHIP, 1.62 ERA, over 10 K per 9, with 17 saves. Post All-Star the numbers regressed to the mean with the final numbers coming in far above league average. His ERA was 2.54, WHIP 1.183, 9.1 K per 9 innings and 23 saves. 

López will turn 30 in the off season. I don't believe he will be able to put together another season like his half season with the Birds this year, but I think his overall results this year can be approximated in the coming two years that he is under team control. 

López has always been regarded as having a live arm and good stuff. Witnessing him as a Twin for 23 appearances, I'll vouch for that. He throws a mid- to upper-90s fastball and a sharp slider. He has always induced a high number of ground balls and this year, he was able to record a good number of strikeouts. 

So what happened after the Twins acquired him? I'm going with regression to the mean. Every relief pitcher gets hit around occasionally and the law of averages caught up with him in the second half of the season. Hard hit balls at someone in the first half of the year found their way for hits, close umpire calls didn't go his way as often and he put on more guys with free passes. Also, there were rumors that Jorge may have been distracted by family issues (sick child?) which could have adversely affected his performance.

I think López comes back in 2023 with a good season because his arm is good and he throws good pitches. He'll be more comfortable with his new team and has an overall good season in 2022 to build off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ROUND 1 REBUTTAL:

The term live arm has bounced around baseball for my entire life in fandom – what does it mean?  I know it means they do not need Tommy John surgery, but that is all. 

Over the years I have read about prospects with live arms like Nick Burdi.  He was able to throw the baseball 95.2 MPH as a high school student.  By his sophomore year in college, he hit 100 MPH.  Unfortunately for him his live arm keeps getting damaged and now he has a -0.6 WAR for 3 years in the majors and is currently hurt.

I believe we thought Vance Worley had a live arm and his 2012 season did not count – we knew we could revive the 11 – 3 3.01 era Worley of 2011.  What happened? He went 1 – 5 with a 7.21 era for Minnesota. 

Jim Hoey had a really live arm.  He hits triple digits regularly.   He was so good we gave up J J Hardy to get him. And we did improve him from a 10.24 ERA and 7.30 era’s the previous two years to a 7.02 with us.  He could still throw 100 – all the way to the back stop.

Ron Davis was going to be the arm that held the BP together after we stole him from the Yankees.  I remember his last year when he accumulated a -2.1 WAR – 1985.  We then traded him for another live arm – George Frazier who came in and gave us a 4.98 era. And a l.574 WHIP.

Live arms are not rare – good arms are.  Remember when we got Alex Meyer? We tried him in 2015 and got a 16.88 era then tried again when he was 26 and got a 12.27 era. 

So based on a lot of years of experience watching live arms come and go the recent group of live arms does not give me hope.  Emilio Pagan had a – 0.4 WAR last year.  Alex Colome had a -0.7 WAR the year before.

Now we have Jorge who has had ½ of one year of good results.  His second half a year was with the TWINS and he had a -0.1 WAR for that time.  I would like to say that the last half was the exception, but it wasn’t.  He had 3.0 WAR for the first half – that is the exception.  WAR is cumulative so consider that first half WAR and realize that he has a WAR for his career of 0.5.  Take out the one exceptional career half year and he is a negative.

I expect a return to the norm, not to the exception.  He gets garbage time if I had him in the BP.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ROUND 1 REBUTTAL:

Citing examples of people who haven't lived up to scouting reports or projections could take pages and pages. However, in the names you listed in your opening statement as successes are examples of what I see in López and also why he figures to have success beyond 2022. López was an unsuccessful starter, but so too were future Twins closers Eddie Guardado, Rick Aguilera, Glen Perkins, and Joe Nathan. López was given a bullpen role late in 2021 and experienced success and he continued his success with Baltimore until the trade deadline. All of these guys assumed key bullpen roles in their late 20s and had multiple successful seasons in the Twins' bullpen. Many, if not most, current MLB closers and elite setup men find their niche in the bullpen after struggling to one degree or another as a starter. 

We are dealing with really small sample sizes here. In fact, deleting one appearance from September from López' stats, would give him an ERA below 3 with the Twins, and improve all the other supporting stats. As is, López continued to limit home runs, line drives and fly balls better than league average and keep an elite ground ball percentage. Free passes and strikeouts were the areas where he struggled with the Twins after doing well as Baltimore's closer. It would figure that walks and strikeouts were interrelated and that he can limit the free passes and get more chases out of the zone if he's ahead of the count. I fully expect López will be a key and positive element of the 2023 Twins' bullpen. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ROUND 2 REBUTTAL:

My fellow debater states that we are dealing with a short sample size in assessing Lopez performance.  I am pleased that he chose to take the route because RP is all about short sample sizes.  We have one inning appearances.  In and out, no allowance for bad performance.  We do not judge RP by the same standard as SP.  They are given one try to max out their pitches, to put everything into their effort and then sit down.  So SSS is the world they live in. 

Any RP would be happy to have an inning here and an inning there removed from their history and era.  Who wouldn’t.  But in this era (not earned run average) of the BP when we no longer have Spahn and Marichal going 14 innings or Burdette and Haddix going 12 or Cy Young with 749 complete games.  Instead, we started the era of Jesse Orosco with 1252 appearances and Mariana Rivera with 1105. 

The relief pitchers have taken over the league and the strategies of teams, so a relief pitcher has to be ready and impactful in those short opportunities.  That is why they used to call them firemen.

Jorge has now pitched 421 innings – certainly more than a SSS.  He has had one half of one season of good performance out of seven seasons.  True he is recently put into the BP.  And it is true that a lot of pitchers who do not have enough of an arsenal make the switch to the BP and some, like Nathan, do it exceptionally well.  But many do not. 

I will not repeat all the statistic that I put in the opening and the last response; I will just ask that you read all of them together. Baseball reference has a projection https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezjo02.shtml for each player and Jorge is projected to have a 4.28 ERA – 1.363 Whip I guess BR was not fooled by the half year aberration.  That would put in line with Bundy, Archer, Megill, Pagan and Joe Smith.

I am not as excited by K/W stats as I am K/W and H.  In his 22.2 innings (that is 23 games which is a decent number to judge a RP) he gave up 23 hits and 14 walks.  18 Ks versus 37 baserunners is not a statistic I find encouraging. 66/89 is Duran’s total for comparison.

There are those who have a bright flame and then a flame out – one hit wonders, whether music or sports.  Bleacher report has the top 25 https://bleacherreport.com/articles/713369-baseballs-25-biggest-one-hit-wonders-of-all-time and many are pitchers. Or if you are looking at the fact that he made the All-start team, Just Baseball, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/713369-baseballs-25-biggest-one-hit-wonders-of-all-time, has a list of players who made the All-star game once and never made it back.   Look at their RP list at the bottom where old friends Grant Balfour and Jesse Crain join Taylor Rogers, Alex Colome and old friend Matt Capps. 

We can always HOPE – it is baseballs endearing quality – the fans start each year with each team based on HOPE that this is the year.  And sometimes it is.  Look at the Orioles.  Preseason they were picked last; a companion to the Detroit Tigers who were actually picked to finish higher. Then Manager Hyde and the team refused to go away.  They ended up better than that team in Minnesota and yet they were willing to trade their ACE and ALL-STAR closer to us.  That makes no sense unless they saw something our FO missed.

I am not saying Lopez might not have some value, but I am saying he has a long way to go to proving the first half of last year was not a fluke. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ROUND 2 REBUTTAL:

I am in agreement that small sample sizes make it tough to project future performance. I would submit that the full season's results are a more accurate reflection than of the season than seven weeks with the Twins. López' full season numbers are very good, not otherworldly and I would think that would be the upside projection for him in 2023. Bullpen arms fluctuate from year to year. That is why counting on things other than ERA is the better way to go in order to project even so far as next year. 

As I noted in my first rebuttal, MLB and Twins' history is full of pitchers whose career changed positively when switched to the bullpen. It isn't automatic that pitchers succeed when sent to the 'pen. They have to be able to throw two days out of three, be able to warm quickly and adjust to working one inning at maximum effort. I think López very much fits the profile of the successes--Joe Nathan, Rick Aguilera, Glen Perkins--and he has stayed healthy since moving into a bullpen role. 

López hits the upper 90s with his fastball, and for the entire season in 2022 allowed only four homers. His ground ball percentage of 58% was elite and a repeat of those numbers should limit big innings and runs. I don't expect him to be handed a closer role, but he should be expected to work in high leverage innings in an improved revamped bullpen for 2023.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CLOSING STATEMENT:

So, to conclude I look at my debate mate and see him agree that his numbers were not very good for the Twins, but if we bury them in a mix of Oriole over production and Twin normal production he looks okay he could be a mediocre RP.  But is that what we traded for?  Does Baltimore miss him?  Did we enjoy our time with him?  Please let’s try again and this time let’s really go after someone with at track record as well as that elusive “live arm”.  Jorge it has been good to know you, but actually not too good.  Time to move on.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CLOSING STATEMENT:

After several tries as a starting pitcher, Jorge López went to the bullpen full time in late August of 2021. The results since that time have been promising, including an outstanding run as the Orioles' closer until the trading deadline in 2022. That he was given an opportunity to be a starter by three teams, a testament to his arm and stuff. Like many others, he has thrived as a full-time bullpen arm. He has adjusted to the routine of being a relief pitcher. He did struggle after being traded to the Twins, but finished his season with five scoreless outings. 

The underlying metrics for the season show why he broke through--weak contact, ground balls and keeping the ball in the park, while striking out his share. There is no reason, at age 30, why López can't continue to be an effective arm for the Twins in the coming year and 2024. He truly can be part of the solution for the 2023 bullpen, not part of the problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This debate is now concluded and open for public comment. There is also a poll at the top of the thread to vote on which side you found more persuasive.

Thanks to both of our participants, @mikelink45 (A) and @stringer bell (B)! If you have any ideas for topics or would like to participate in future debates, please message @Otto von Ballpark or @Squirrel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One point I was hoping to see made, probably by Debater A, was Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP).  It's a stat that can point out outliers of performance that might not be repeatable.

If you look at Lopez's record...

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezjo02-pitch.shtml#all_pitching_batting

... his BABIP until this past season was a little above .300, year in and year out. That's a pretty typical profile for a hurler. 

His BABIP for Baltimore this year?  .231.

I don't like to use the word "luck" in competitive sports, but some things may not be a repeatable skill.  Having batted balls turned into outs at a greater rate than usual should raise an eyebrow, as well as an expectation for regression.  And, sure enough, once the Twins acquired him, it went back the other way to .333, slightly above his career norm.

The question in the debate wasn't whether Lopez can pitch to some degree of success at the major league level.  He probably can.  The question was whether his year was a mirage, and I think BABIP points strongly to "Yes."  I would love to know the FO's analytic arguments that said to expect otherwise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, ashbury said:

One point I was hoping to see made, probably by Debater A, was Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP).  It's a stat that can point out outliers of performance that might not be repeatable.

If you look at Lopez's record...

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezjo02-pitch.shtml#all_pitching_batting

... his BABIP until this past season was a little above .300, year in and year out. That's a pretty typical profile for a hurler. 

His BABIP for Baltimore this year?  .231.

I don't like to use the word "luck" in competitive sports, but some things may not be a repeatable skill.  Having batted balls turned into outs at a greater rate than usual should raise an eyebrow, as well as an expectation for regression.  And, sure enough, once the Twins acquired him, it went back the other way to .333, slightly above his career norm.

The question in the debate wasn't whether Lopez can pitch to some degree of success at the major league level.  He probably can.  The question was whether his year was a mirage, and I think BABIP points strongly to "Yes."  I would love to know the FO's analytic arguments that said to expect otherwise.

I appreciate that idea - BR also has wins against average which has him -0.2 for the Twins and +1.0 for the Orioles.  In his entire career, that period with the Orioles the first half of 2022 was the only time he was not negative. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, ashbury said:

One point I was hoping to see made, probably by Debater A, was Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP).  It's a stat that can point out outliers of performance that might not be repeatable.

If you look at Lopez's record...

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezjo02-pitch.shtml#all_pitching_batting

... his BABIP until this past season was a little above .300, year in and year out. That's a pretty typical profile for a hurler. 

His BABIP for Baltimore this year?  .231.

I don't like to use the word "luck" in competitive sports, but some things may not be a repeatable skill.  Having batted balls turned into outs at a greater rate than usual should raise an eyebrow, as well as an expectation for regression.  And, sure enough, once the Twins acquired him, it went back the other way to .333, slightly above his career norm.

The question in the debate wasn't whether Lopez can pitch to some degree of success at the major league level.  He probably can.  The question was whether his year was a mirage, and I think BABIP points strongly to "Yes."  I would love to know the FO's analytic arguments that said to expect otherwise.

Diaz for the Mets had a .330+ BABIP.  A very long time ago and now likely in cyber dust, I read one place that BABIP normalizes for pitchers ay about 1000 innings. I do not foresee for the most part BABIP useful for relief pitching . It may rise and fall but other numbers may give a truer picture of what is going on 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, old nurse said:

Diaz for the Mets had a .330+ BABIP.  A very long time ago and now likely in cyber dust, I read one place that BABIP normalizes for pitchers ay about 1000 innings. I do not foresee for the most part BABIP useful for relief pitching . It may rise and fall but other numbers may give a truer picture of what is going on 

This isn't my debate so I don't plan to pursue this tangent much further, but:

1) Diaz had a magnificent year.  The BABIP only serves to reinforce that view.  His good stats weren't fueled by an unusual number of defensive plays converting balls in play into outs, indeed he might have suffered a little in that regard.  Instead his stats were built on crazy numbers of strikeouts, at a rate near what he's sustained before, and which are immune to BABIP fluctuations because the Ball isn't In Play.  With an OPS of .446, every batter was 2021-22 vintage Andrelton Simmons when facing him this season. If any reliever is worth $20M to a team that can afford the sum, he's it.  I see no overlap in Diaz to Lopez for discussion purposes.

2) Low or high BABIP in a season doesn't mean a pitcher is good or bad.  It helps put his traditional performance numbers into context.  (For a long career, I could maybe see an argument to use BABIP as part of a way to judge a player's ability directly.)

3) My whole point was that Lopez 's insane BABIP this year while still with the O's hadn't normalized.  And, when it regressed, kaBLOOey.  BABIP is perhaps MORE useful for relievers than for starters, because you don't have time to wait for it to normalize.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to the master debaters  for taking time out of their busy schedule for this. 

Could it just simply be the Twins feel the need to tinker with a pitcher and convert him to the Twins way of pitching instead of letting them continue to do that worked for them before the trade.

It just seems so many times the Twins trade for a pitcher and they completely forget how to pitch once they come to MN.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, ashbury said:

This isn't my debate so I don't plan to pursue this tangent much further, but:

My whole point was that Lopez 's insane BABIP this year while still with the O's hadn't normalized.  And, when it regressed, kaBLOOey.  BABIP is perhaps MORE useful for relievers than for starters, because you don't have time to wait for it to normalize.

This is my debate, so I would like more information. I don't readily have access to BABIP numbers, so I will ask. What was Lopez' BABIP for the entire 2022 season? To fit my narrative, it would normalize by being above average for the last third of the season (his time with the Twins) while in total being near average for a MLB season. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

This is my debate, so I would like more information. I don't readily have access to BABIP numbers, so I will ask. What was Lopez' BABIP for the entire 2022 season? To fit my narrative, it would normalize by being above average for the last third of the season (his time with the Twins) while in total being near average for a MLB season. 

Sir, yes Sir.  😄

BABIP is now on each player's baseball-reference.com main page.  Here's Jorge Lopez's:   https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezjo02.shtml

For the Orioles he logged 48.1 innings and the BABIP was .231.

For the Twins it was 22.2 innings and .333.

The amount higher than league norm (.290) was less than the amount below, and the number of innings wasn't the same, so the blended BABIP over the 71 innings was .268.  So his overall numbers still benefited from effects that might not reproduce going forward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, ashbury said:

Sir, yes Sir.  😄

BABIP is now on each player's baseball-reference.com main page.  Here's Jorge Lopez's:   https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/l/lopezjo02.shtml

For the Orioles he logged 48.1 innings and the BABIP was .231.

For the Twins it was 22.2 innings and .333.

The amount higher than league norm (.290) was less than the amount below, and the number of innings wasn't the same, so the blended BABIP over the 71 innings was .268.  So his overall numbers still benefited from effects that might not reproduce going forward.

My bad. I missed it. I don’t think a .268 BABIP is even a standard deviation better than league average. I really believe with a good ground ball rate and low home run rate he will be successful going forward. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Parfigliano said:

Maybe Lopez is an example of a guy doing good until the Twins pitching system gets ahold of him?  Throw in the very sick child and his season is understandable.

That seems highly likely. It seems pitchers typically do better once they leave the organization. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Parfigliano said:

Maybe Lopez is an example of a guy doing good until the Twins pitching system gets ahold of him?  

Because this is the debate forum, I'm just going to say it ... support your claim with actual evidence, please. Debates are not about supposition because you dislike the outcome.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Help - I am looking at the votes and getting trampled like the Vikings.  Stringer Bell just had his entire family reunion jump on board and I am an only child in a family with too few people to make up the difference - I need at least a few sympathy votes as Debater A or PAGAN will be your closer for 2023.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premiere Twins community on the internet.

×
×
  • Create New...