• Greatest World Series Rotations of All Time

    Posted 21 hours ago

    Between Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin on the Nationals and Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Zack Greinke on the Astros, six of the top 13 pitchers by WAR will be starting in the first three games of the World Series.

    2019 Pitching WAR Leaders
    Name IP ERA FIP WAR
    Gerrit Cole 212.1 2.50 2.64 7.4
    Jacob deGrom 204 2.43 2.67 7.0
    Lance Lynn 208.1 3.67 3.13 6.8
    Max Scherzer 172.1 2.92 2.45 6.5
    Justin Verlander 223 2.58 3.27 6.4
    Charlie Morton 194.2 3.05 2.81 6.1
    Stephen Strasburg 209 3.32 3.25 5.7
    Shane Bieber 214.1 3.28 3.32 5.6
    Zack Greinke 208.2 2.93 3.22 5.4
    Lucas Giolito 176.2 3.41 3.43 5.1
    Walker Buehler 182.1 3.26 3.01 5.0
    Hyun-Jin Ryu 182.2 2.32 3.10 4.8
    Patrick Corbin 202 3.25 3.49 4.8
    Jack Flaherty 196.1 2.75 3.46 4.7
    Zack Wheeler 195.1 3.96 3.48 4.7
    Orange = Astros
    Blue = Nationals

    That’s a staggering amount of good pitching packed into just one series. Even if both teams use a fourth starter, 75%-87% of all starters in the World Series will come from the list above. That has to be the best collection of present pitching talent in a World Series, right? Let’s test it out.

    First, some general analysis. The Nationals rotation overall this season put up 21.4 WAR, first in baseball. The Astros rotation, which had Greinke for only one-third of the season, put up 19.4 WAR, fourth in the game. Since 1974, the 2019 Nationals’ WAR total ranks 17th (2011 Phillies are first) while the Astros’ ranks 47th out of the 1288 team seasons. The Nationals are the 11th team since 1974 to make the World Series with an MLB-leading rotation WAR. The previous 10 teams are 3-7, with the 1990s Braves’ 1-3 record not exactly helping. The last team to enter the World Series after leading baseball in rotation WAR was the 2012 Detroit Tigers with Verlander, Scherzer, Aníbal Sánchez, and Doug Fister, but they lost to the Giants. If we go back to 1947 (with both relievers and starters included from 1947-1973), this is just the 13th World Series matchup between two clubs ranked in the top five of baseball. It is just the fifth World Series matchup between teams ranked in the top four, and only the 2001 World Series between the D-backs and Yankees featured a better average ranking between two opponents.

    Here are the top rotations along with average MLB rank and WAR.

    Top World Series Rotation Matchups Since 1947
    Year AL Team WAR MLB Rank NL WAR MLB Rank Rank Average WAR Average
    1966 Orioles 17.5 6 Dodgers 25.5 1 3.5 21.5
    2003 Yankees 23.8 1 Marlins 19 5 3 21.4
    2019 Astros 19.4 4 Nationals 21.4 1 2.5 20.4
    1996 Yankees 14.3 10 Braves 24.6 1 5.5 19.5
    1999 Yankees 15.9 5 Braves 22.8 1 3 19.4
    1974 A’s 20 3 Dodgers 18.7 4 3.5 19.4
    1963 Yankees 20.8 3 Dodgers 17.7 7 5 19.3
    2001 Yankees 18.4 3 D-backs 19.6 1 2 19.0
    1969 Orioles 20.5 4 Mets 17.3 7 5.5 18.9
    1968 Tigers 17.8 5 Cardinals 19.8 3 4 18.8
    2005 White Sox 18.4 3 Astros 18.8 2 2.5 18.6
    1964 Yankees 19.1 3 Cardinals 18.1 5 4 18.6
    1998 Yankees 18.4 2 Padres 17.7 3 2.5 18.1
    1986 Red Sox 17.2 5 Mets 18.8 2 3.5 18.0
    1954 Indians 19.9 1 Giants 15.8 5 3 17.9
    1977 Yankees 13.4 11 Dodgers 22 1 6 17.7
    1967 Red Sox 16.8 7 Cardinals 18.2 4 5.5 17.5
    1995 Indians 13.9 5 Braves 21 1 3 17.5
    1985 Royals 21 1 Cardinals 13.6 7 4 17.3
    1983 Orioles 14.5 8 Phillies 20 1 4.5 17.3
    1992 Blue Jays 14.2 9 Braves 19.9 1 5 17.1
    1978 Yankees 17.2 4 Dodgers 15.6 6 5 16.4
    1970 Orioles 20.4 4 Reds 12 17 10.5 16.2
    1959 White Sox 13.9 8 Dodgers 16.7 3 5.5 15.3
    From 1974-2019: All Starters in Season
    From 1947-1973: All Starters and Relievers in Season

    That’s one way of looking at this pitching matchup, and it already finds this year’s competition as one of the greatest in history. What’s above doesn’t necessarily represent what we will see in the World Series though. We’ll likely see a lot more of the better starters on a team, and with Greinke as an example, the best pitcher might not be accumulating numbers for one team all season.

    To get a better sense of this World Series matchup, I looked through the top-three starters for the World Series rotations going back to 1947 and required that they start at least one World Series game that year. I then took the geometric mean of those three starters’ WAR so that we can see the greatest World Series rotations — or at least top-threes — for most of baseball history.

    Best World Series Rotations Since 1947
    Year Team SP1 SP1 WAR SP2 SP2 WAR SP3 SP3 WAR AVG WAR GEO MEAN WAR
    1996 Braves John Smoltz 8.4 Greg Maddux 7.8 Tom Glavine 5.3 7.2 7.0
    2019 Astros Gerrit Cole 7.4 Justin Verlander 6.4 Zack Greinke 5.4 6.4 6.3
    2001 Yankees Mike Mussina 6.9 Andy Pettitte 5.8 Roger Clemens 5.6 6.1 6.1
    2005 Astros Roy Oswalt 6.1 Roger Clemens 6 Andy Pettitte 5.8 6.0 6.0
    1974 A’s Catfish Hunter 6.3 Ken Holtzman 5.5 Vida Blue 5.5 5.8 5.8
    1966 Dodgers Sandy Koufax 9.1 Claude Osteen 4.8 Don Drysdale 4.1 6.0 5.6
    2019 Nationals Max Scherzer 6.5 Stephen Strasburg 5.7 Patrick Corbin 4.8 5.7 5.6
    1999 Braves Greg Maddux 5.6 Kevin Millwood 5.5 John Smoltz 5.4 5.5 5.5
    1995 Braves Greg Maddux 7.9 John Smoltz 4.6 Tom Glavine 4.3 5.6 5.4
    1973 Mets Tom Seaver 7.3 Jon Matlack 4.7 Jerry Koosman 4.4 5.5 5.3
    1970 Orioles Jim Palmer 6.2 Dave McNally 4.9 Mike Cuellar 4.8 5.3 5.3
    2003 Yankees Mike Mussina 6.1 Andy Pettitte 5.1 Roger Clemens 4.5 5.2 5.2
    2012 Tigers Justin Verlander 6.9 Max Scherzer 4.5 Aníbal Sánchez 4.5 5.3 5.2
    1954 Indians Mike Garcia 6.5 Bob Lemon 4.2 Early Wynn 4.7 5.1 5.0
    1985 Royals Bret Saberhagen 6.2 Danny Jackson 4.6 Charlie Leibrandt 4.1 5.0 4.9
    1969 Orioles Mike Cuellar 6.6 Dave McNally 4.7 Jim Palmer 3.7 5.0 4.9
    1977 Dodgers Burt Hooton 5.1 Tommy John 5.1 Doug Rau 4.3 4.8 4.8
    1983 Phillies Steve Carlton 7.4 John Denny 5.8 Charles Hudson 2.5 5.2 4.8
    1992 Blue Jays Juan Guzman 5.5 David Cone 5.2 Jack Morris 3.7 4.8 4.7
    1960 Pirates Bob Friend 7.1 Vern Law 4.2 Harvey Haddix 3.3 4.9 4.6
    2001 D-backs Randy Johnson 10.4 Curt Schilling 7.2 Miguel Batista 1.3 6.3 4.6
    1963 Dodgers Sandy Koufax 9.2 Don Drysdale 5.8 Johnny Podres 1.8 5.6 4.6
    1963 Yankees Whitey Ford 5.2 Al Downing 4.7 Jim Bouton 3.6 4.5 4.4
    1968 Tigers Denny McLain 7.2 Earl Wilson 3.6 Mickey Lolich 3.2 4.7 4.4
    2005 White Sox Mark Buehrle 5.9 Freddy Garcia 4 Jon Garland 3.5 4.5 4.4
    1992 Braves John Smoltz 5 Tom Glavine 4.6 Steve Avery 3.5 4.4 4.3
    1968 Cardinals Bob Gibson 8.6 Ray Washburn 3.7 Nelson Briles 2.4 4.9 4.2
    1998 Yankees David Cone 5.1 David Wells 4.4 Orlando Hernandez 3.4 4.3 4.2
    Top three starters on each team with at least one World Series start.

    That 1996 Braves team took a 2-0 lead on the Yankees and were in extra innings with a 2-1 series lead in Game 4. They lost the final two games 1-0 and 3-2 and needed just a bit more hitting in those contests to beat New York. The 2001 Diamondbacks stick out almost comically when looking at average versus geometric mean, which ensures any one (or two) numbers doesn’t carry too much weight. As good as Johnson and Schilling were, they still “only started” five of the seven World Series games against the Yankees. The Yankees team they played was more even one through three as the two teams played a very tight series.

    Despite the better WAR totals for their rotation this season, the Nationals trio doesn’t quite measure up to the Astros once we move Greinke to Houston, but they present two of the top seven rotations in World Series history. Of the top 12 rotations heading into this season, these clubs ended up 3-9 in the World Series, and with Houston and Washington they will be 4-10 after this year. If we wanted to take a look at the matchup between the teams, we can do an average and geometric mean of the six pitchers between the teams. When we do that, this season rises to the top.

    Best Combined World Series Rotations Since 1947
    Season AL NL WS Average SP WAR WS SP GEO MEAN
    2019 Astros Nationals 6.0 6.0
    2001 Yankees D-backs 6.2 5.3
    2005 White Sox Astros 5.2 5.1
    1996 Yankees Braves 5.2 4.6
    1992 Blue Jays Braves 4.6 4.5
    1963 Yankees Dodgers 5.1 4.5
    2003 Yankees Marlins 4.5 4.4
    1985 Royals Cardinals 4.6 4.4
    1999 Yankees Braves 4.5 4.3
    1968 Tigers Cardinals 4.8 4.3
    1969 Orioles Mets 4.5 4.3
    1983 Orioles Phillies 4.5 4.2
    1986 Red Sox Mets 4.4 4.1
    1974 A’s Dodgers 4.8 4.1
    1954 Indians Giants 4.4 4.1
    1964 Yankees Cardinals 4.3 4.0
    1995 Indians Braves 4.3 4.0
    Top three starters on each team with at least one World Series start.

    We could argue that the 2001 matchup was better, but we’d have to ignore Diamondbacks pitching after Johnson and Schilling. We could also weight the individual starting pitchers based on how many games they start, but we don’t yet have that information for this season. What we do know is that heading into the World Series, there have never been six better pitchers matching up against each other based on how they pitched in the regular season. We have future Hall of Famers in Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and maybe Zack Greinke along with Cy Young contenders Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. It’s possible we’ve never seen a better collection of current pitching talent in one World Series.

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  • Remember the 2019 Yankees for their glory, not their demise

    Posted 1 day ago

    Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

    What a season it was!

    All things live to die.

    Some creatures in the animal kingdom live a short, tortured life—existing only to be eaten— like the Baltimore Orioles. Others complete their life cycle, filled with joy and love; there’s sorrow and pain as well, but these just emphasize the good times that much more. They die of natural causes at an old age. These are were the 2019 New York Yankees. The ending was tragic, as almost all endings are, but what a life it was!

    It was a season of pain, but the pain only led to greater joy. Miguel Andújar batted only 49 times, but his absence gave us Gio Urshela! Giancarlo Stanton was hobbled all season, but instead we got Mike Tauchman! Luis Severino made his season debut on September 17th, but look what Domingo Germán became! (As a pitcher, that is. As a domestic abuser, he’s despicable.) Dellin Betances faced fewer batters than Austin Romine, but that led to the reemergence of Tommy Kahnle!

    No team suffered through more injuries than the Yankees. This Michael Baumann article at The Ringer about their unprecedented injury bad luck ran on April 23. It only got worse. They set the record for most injured players in a season on August 30th, then there were even more in September. Only four players qualifying for the batting title (with Luke Voit just barely clearing the 502 plate appearance bar).

    This fractured, piecemeal roster of broken stars and former cast-offs somehow finished 103-59. That they won so many games isn’t the story— it’s the how that we’ll remember. They cleared the fences a mind-blowing 306 times. Fourteen players finished with double-digit home runs. (Giancarlo Stanton wasn’t even one of them!) Gleyber Torres hit 13 just against the Orioles. Brett Gardner smashed 28, setting a personal best at age-147. Gary Sánchez hit 10 against the Orioles. After averaging just seven dingers per season in Colorado— of all places— DJ LeMahieu blasted 26. Even Troy Tulowitzki hit a home run… against the Orioles!

    It doesn’t matter that the Twins managed one more homer than the Yankees, and now hold a record that should last for a very long time (we hope). Nor does it matter that the rabbit-ball makes this season an outlier for extreme, prolific power (we hope). The homers made every game feel like anything could happen at any moment, and that they were never out of a game. This was special— context be damned— and that’s what we’ll remember about the 2019 Yankees.

    Looking ahead to the offseason

    Regardless of what happens this coming winter, the Yankees should be AL East favorites in 2020. There are undoubtedly questions to be answered, but most of the important players on the roster remain under contract. Besides, they get to play the Orioles 19 more times.

    They’ll have some important decisions to make on a few outgoing free agents. Didi Gregorius is more of a luxury than a necessity, but he may receive a qualifying offer nonetheless. The same goes for Brett Gardner. Even though they have a full outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier (for now), and uh, (don’t laugh) Jacoby Ellsbury, it’s just difficult to picture Gardy in a different uniform. They have a team option on Edwin Encarnación as well, but it’s unlikely he’ll be brought back for $20 million with Luke Voit, Mike Ford, Miguel Andújar, and something resembling Greg Bird hanging around. Austin Romine will look for a starting gig elsewhere, so they’ll need to replenish their depth at catcher.

    On the pitching side, CC Sabathia departs the rotation. They will bring back a nominally complete starting five of Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Domingo Germán, and J.A. Happ, but this is an area where they could spend some serious cash. The rotation would look a whole lot better by replacing Happ with Gerrit Cole, for example, and we certainly learned to expect injuries.

    While most of their elite bullpen remains intact, Aroldis Chapman has an opt-out looming. He’ll be 32-years-old next season, but he still tops 100 mph, and he’s quite possibly the greatest left-handed reliever ever. However, with two years and $34.4 million remaining, he could choose not to test the increasingly deadened free agent market. Dellin Betances’ 2019 pretty much never happened, but he was one of the best relievers in baseball from 2014 to 2018. He will probably move on from pinstripes, as he may be loathe to negotiate with their front office for good reason.

    There will certainly be at least one major trade; there always is. Maybe it involves Clint Frazier for a starting pitcher, or maybe it’s something completely unexpected. Given that they are the richest, most valuable sports franchise in the hemisphere, they will hopefully spend some money.

    Perhaps they win the World Series next year. Perhaps they lose another heartbreaking ALCS, or don’t even make the playoffs at all. They might even lose a few games to the Orioles (now we’re really getting ridiculous). However the 2020 Yankees meet their demise, it won’t negate what will surely be a life worth celebrating.


    Daniel R. Epstein is an elementary special education teacher and president of the Somerset County Education Association. Tweets @depstein1983.

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  • Private equity is coming for baseball next

    Posted 1 day ago

    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Leveraged investments in baseball teams are a huge red flag.

    Go to any shopping center on Anystreet, USA, and you’ll probably find a few abandoned stores jammed between the new Chopt or Sweetgreen, and none are more ever-present than a Toys R Us. Toys R Us was at one time the largest toy reseller in the United States, selling product in over 800 stores and booming through the 1980s and into the 1990s, right before their market share was cut into by the likes of Amazon, Ebay, and online resellers.

    That wasn’t the reason they went under, though that was the media’s perception. Instead, what actually killed it was a $6.6 billon deal in 2004 in which the toy conglomerate was purchased by KKR and Bain Capital, two prominent private equity firms. Essentially, as this excellent Splinter News post put it, private equity has an easy path to growth:

    • Purchase a business holding using funds gathered from a group of investors
    • Minimize committed liquid assets by purchasing the holding with debt, in what is popularly referred to as leveraged buyout
    • Reduce the operating expenditures of the holding to increase margins, and charge fees for management consulting and, obviously, debt payments

    This is, as the article puts it, akin to “…buy[ing] your neighbor’s house. You put down the down payment. You own the house. But your neighbor has to pay off the mortgage.”

    The result has been an explosion in private equity profits; they reached as high as 300% returns since 2000 as an industry. For Toys R Us, this meant up to “$425 million to $517 million in interest” payments and a total of $200 million in fees. The end result was, despite the company showing consistent revenue numbers and shrinking losses with the rebound of the economy, it completely bled out by its total closure in 2018, and was revived as a zombie online store (run by Target) at the end of last year. The real, material loss was that 33,000 workers lost their jobs.

    This story, unfortunately, is not unique in the recent American experience, especially in media and entertainment. Since the 1980s and the deregulation of the financial sector, leveraged buyouts became increasingly popular, and then even more vulturous as firms became exposed by the changing winds caused by the internet. Your local paper, for example, was possibly purchased by it, like the Denver Post. It was purchased by AGC, and it resulted in the firm borrowing “$248.5 million from newspaper workers’ pension funds, and had the newspapers take on $200 million in debt to finance its own investments.”

    Splinter News itself was shut down by the firm Great Hill, and even Sports Illustrated, the once great sports media titan, was acquired by a firm called The Maven, which immediately let go half of 40 staff members despite the fact its own company is hemorrhaging cash.

    The ravages on the American worker are obvious, and its pervasiveness has become an almost undeniable feature of the powerlessness of the current weakened labor movement, who without unions or protections, could walk into a skeleton crew in as quickly as a business day.

    Well guess what folks, it’s coming to baseball! This was reported just five days ago in Bloomberg:

    “Major League Baseball is now allowing investment funds to take minority stakes in multiple clubs, a move that lets the league capitalize on sky-high team valuations… One sports banker is already taking advantage of the change. Galatioto Sports Partners has created a $500 million vehicle — the GSP Baseball Fund — to invest in teams… Prior to creating GSP in 2005, Galatioto was managing director of sports advisory and finance at Lehman Brothers.”

    Oh, Lehman Brothers, can’t see any issues with what happened with them post-2005! Regardless, the issues with this could be rife. While still sidelined as “minority investors”—so we won’t necessarily see a hostile takeover of a team—the implications for the worker or for the player’s union are obvious.

    Let’s say a private equity firm seizes up to 40-45% of team ownership through buying shares of the team’s valuations, hoping to make returns on that with increasing valuations. They could institute sweeping changes through the ownership group to make their likely-leveraged-investment pay off even more dividends.

    They could ensure the team is forced to comply with all luxury tax thresholds, for example. They could cut staff in the front office, or in development, operations, or stadium operations. We’re already seeing some cuts coming to the minor leagues, where early plans show up to 42 teams being eliminated under a consolidation plan. A private equity-run ownership could institute further consolidation and other underhanded tactics to break possible union-forming activities.

    If privately-held, consistent ownership groups are already tightening the belts, there’s really no telling what anonymous ownership funds would be capable of pushing for or instituting, and unlike other industries, they would exist in an anti-trust-exempted setting where they could unilaterally set economic rules without Sherman Act interference.

    Teams are already bought with debt, so I guess we should have some solace in knowing the horror is already here; ownership groups consistently mortgage their teams, like the Marlins, for example, forcing future owners to put more of their revenue towards debt than actual salary and operations. Private equity’s entrance into this would merely accelerate this process, and take already financially stable teams and turn them into the Toys R Us of baseball.

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  • Farewell, CC Sabathia

    Posted 1 day ago

    Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

    Sabathia had an unceremonious end to his career, but he can walk away with his head held high.

    It was not the end we were all envisioning for CC Sabathia. I am sure it was not the end he was envisioning for himself, either. The 39-year-old pitcher had announced his intentions to retire after the 2019 season, and after exiting Game Four of the ALCS with a left shoulder subluxation, his season, and his career has come to a close. His injury led to the Yankees having to replace him on the roster, which meant that Sabathia would not be eligible to return had the Yankees made the World Series (a point made moot thanks to a Jose Altuve walkoff ALCS game six clincher

    It was the opposite of Derek Jeter’s walk-off hit in his final game, but it was also the definition of “leaving it all out on the field.” Sabathia had stated that his surgically repaired right knee, which is the lefty’s plant leg, was an eight out of ten on a good day in terms of pain. It must have been a ten out of ten every single time the big guy threw a pitch and landed on that leg. It’s not like he needed the money, either. He truly gave everything he had.

    At just 17 years-of-age, Sabathia was drafted directly out of high school when the Cleveland Indians selected him with the number 20th overall pick in 1998. He was a multi-sport athlete, and actually drew interest with his bat as well as his arm. Obviously Cleveland decided to make him a pitcher, the rest is history.

    The young lefty was a highly touted prospect, and it took him less than three years to make his major league debut at the age of 20. He did quite well in his rookie season, throwing 180 13 innings over 33 starts. He had a 4.64 RA9 and 2.9 WAR, but he struggled with his control, walking 12.5 percent of batters faced. The funny thing is, looking back, his 22.4 K% does not look that great through a modern lens, but the average strikeout rate back then was barely over 17 percent, compared to 23 percent now. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Ichiro Suzuki, who blew away the rest of the competition.

    Thankfully, Sabathia improved his control over the coming seasons, but his strikeout rate dipped over the following four seasons. He averaged a 4.27 RA9 and 3.0 WAR per season over that span. He was good, but not great. He made a jump in performance in 2006, raising his strikeout rate to 21.5 percent and dropping his walk rate to an impressive 5.5 percent. He turned in a 3.88 RA9 and was worth 4.6 WAR.

    In 2007, the baseball world got treated to prime CC Sabathia. He had what was at the time a career best 3.51 RA9 and 6.3 WAR. Amazingly, he dropped his walk rate to an outstanding 3.8 percent, which was the third-best in baseball among qualified pitchers.

    Sabathia won his first and only Cy Young award in what was a stunningly close race on paper. Nobody really separated themselves from the pack that year. Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Sabathia, and his teammate Roberto Hernández had WARs that ranged from 6.2 to 6.5. Those are basically the same thing. Their RA9s were in a tight range, too. Sabathia won with 119 vote points, and Beckett was not too far behind at 86 points. The only significant way in which he differentiated himself from the other Cy Young contenders is with his league leading 241 IP.

    In 2008, Sabathia entered his contract-year pitching just as well as the year before. Unfortunately, Cleveland took a huge step back after their 96-win 2007 season, so seeing as how their season was lost and how the Dolans care more about their wallets than their fans, they traded their soon-to-be free agent to the Brewers in early July. Sabathia then proceeded to go on one of the biggest tears of his career. Over 17 starts, he had an outstanding 2.14 RA9. He was basically performing like a 10 WAR pitcher.

    The Brewers’ 90 wins were not enough to take the division from the 97-win Cubs, but it was enough to clinch a Wild Card slot. Unfortunately, they were eliminated in four games in the NLDS by the eventual world champion Phillies. Sabathia got knocked around in his only postseason start, giving up five runs in 3 23 IP.

    Sabathia’s free agency could not have come at a better time. The richest, most successful team in baseball history had missed the playoffs for the first time since 1993 (remember that 1994 was the strike year). The Yankees went on a historic spending spree after the 2008 season that included giving Sabathia the biggest contract ever for a pitcher at seven years and $161 million. He rewarded the team by turning in another excellent season. He had a 3.76 RA9 over 230 IP with solid peripherals, and he once again cracked 6.0 WAR. He continued his dominance in the postseason with a 2.24 RA9 over five starts, leading the Yankees to a World Series championship.

    The first four years of Sabathia’s contract were excellent, but age started to catch up with him in 2013. He made 32 starts that year, but he was replacement level with a 5.20 RA9. In 2014, his aforementioned right knee started giving him major problems. He had a 6.07 RA9 over only eight starts before missing the rest of the season due to knee surgery.

    Sabathia was able to make 29 starts in 2015, but he still was not very effective. He had a 4.95 RA9 and a strikeout rate below 19 percent. He was a decent back of the rotation starter, but far from the ace he used to be. Thankfully he was able to revitalize his career in 2016 by turning into a crafty lefty. From 2016-2018, he had a 4.09 RA9, and averaged 160 IP and 2.8 WAR per season.

    I am guessing that Sabathia knew that his body was giving up on him going into this season. He struggled with a 5.37 RA9 over 22 starts. As I mentioned before, it is not the end he was looking for, but it is clearly time for him to hang up his cleats.

    Sabathia has a difficult Hall of Fame case for reasons I discussed last offseason that centered around the fact that pitchers do not throw as many innings as they did previously. His 62.5 WAR ranks him fifth among starting pitchers since his rookie season in 2001. Ahead of him are Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Justin Verlander. Halladay is already in, and Kershaw and Verlander are considered locks. Greinke is still going strong, and he has a better peak than Sabathia. Max Scherzer ranks eighth on that list, but he too is also going strong and has three Cy Young awards to Sabathia’s one.

    JAWS is a useful starting point for evaluating a player’s Hall of Fame candidacy, but it too is affected by the fact that pitchers throw fewer innings. Still, Sabathia ranks a not-so-nice 69th all time by JAWS. Verlander, Greinke, and Kershaw 35th-37th, respectively, and close to the the average JAWS for Hall of Famers. Halladay ranks at 46th, but his peak was strong and just above the average.

    The biggest problem with Sabathia’s Hall case is that his peak, which is defined as his best seven seasons by WAR, is not very strong. He never had a season above 7.0 WAR or below a 3.00 RA9. David Cone had a stronger peak than Sabathia. Rick Reuschel ranks 49th by JAWS, and he got only two votes in his one and only year on the ballot. Sabathia was part of a World Series championship team and was outstanding during that run, but his overall playoff track record is mediocre. He has a 4.63 RA9 in 130 13 postseason innings.

    I would not vote for Sabathia, but I would not throw a fit if he got into Cooperstown. Historical comparisons are tough nowadays. Regardless, he has had a great career, and he deserves to have the Yankees retire his number. I wish him the best as he recovers from all that ails him.

    . . .

    Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.

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  • Top 2020 Prospects: Washington Nationals

    Posted 2 days ago

    Thanks to years of top-left acculturation, I planned to write about the NL East first, so it’s pure chance that we’re looking at the Washington Nationals the week they’re playing the World Series.

    In other news, we’ll be covering the Houston Astros next.

    Or the Yankees. 

    Then back to the NL East, where I’m getting the Nats’ potential sadness out of the way before the Series just in case the balls bounce against them.

    And it’s not so sad: one off-season with a weak minor league system–a totally acceptable outcome the year your team makes the final game, especially if you’re already seeing Juan Soto and Victor Robles under the big lights. Still, this system is not fun. This will not be the kind of article one reads to console oneself after a bad beat in game seven. 

    Someone will be ranked fifth, and sixth, and whatnot, but that’s about the best we can say, so let’s go ahead and do the rankings even if it is something of a soul-siphoning endeavor. 

    But keep in mind: this front office has a strong track record for finding and developing elite talent. Even if you don’t love anyone on this list, someone in the Washington brain trust probably does, and they’ve been doing pretty well for themselves. Might even be the most honorable organization in D.C., what with the promoting of prospects when they’re ready or needed–not when they’re maximally price-suppressed. I think that’s an underrated motivator for everyone involved–from scouts to coaches to players to mascots. 

    Well, everyone but the mascots. I weep for the mascots. But not for the Nationals: a fun success story in the first year A.H. (After Harper)

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  • Job Posting: Brewers Baseball Research and Development Analyst and Intern

    Posted 2 days ago

    Please note, this posting contains two positions.

    Position: Baseball Research and Development Analyst

    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    Summary:
    The Analyst – Baseball Research & Development will deliver research and tools to improve decision making across Baseball Operations. The position requires a person who has intellectual curiosity, is a self-starter and can communicate technical and analytical concepts effectively to non-technical people. Being passionate about using data, analysis and technology to improve decision making processes is also a key differentiator. Residence in Milwaukee is required.

    Responsibilities:
    Essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Other duties may be assigned.

    • Evaluate existing data sources and build predictive or explanatory models to aid in a variety of player acquisition, player development and gameplay decisions.
    • Investigate emerging data sources and identify potential for predictive value and actionable insights to improve decision making.
    • Develop visualizations and other mechanisms for disseminating analytical results to the front office, player development staff, and other baseball employees – including consideration for less technically and analytically inclined consumers.
    • Continually survey latest analytical methods and advancements in baseball and sports research to apply cutting-edge methods and data to problems.
    • Understand current decision processes and information systems and offer enhancements and improvements.
    • Answer ad-hoc requests for reports, visualizations and research projects.

    Qualifications:
    To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

    • Understanding of statistics and modeling techniques, including probability, linear regression and logistic regression.
    • Proficiency with an analytical programming language required, R or Python preferred.
    • Proficiency with SQL and SQL databases required, Microsoft SQL or PostgreSQL preferred.

    Education and/or Experience:
    Bachelor’s degree (B.S./B.A.) or equivalent experience is required. Advanced degree or current pursuit of advanced degree is desirable.

    Other Skills and Abilities:
    The individual must be capable of working extended hours such as overtime, nights, and weekends, when necessary. Occasional travel to affiliates or conferences may be required.

    To Apply:
    To apply, please complete the application that can be found here.

    Position: Baseball Research and Development Intern

    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    Summary:
    The Intern – Baseball Research & Development will design and execute a strategic research project with the assistance of experienced mentors. The internship program is designed to give the candidate real-world experience in a Baseball Research & Development department, including exposure to development processes and best practices. Residence in Milwaukee is required.

    Responsibilities:
    Essential Duties and Responsibilities include the following. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. Other duties may be assigned.

    • Work closely with R&D mentor to define and outline a meaningful project.
    • Design approach to address chosen topics leveraging existing and new data sources to build predictive or explanatory models.
    • Develop and propose project solutions using various coding languages and/or database queries that adhere to coding best practices.
    • Collaborate with other interns, R&D team members and other front office staff on various projects and initiatives.
    • Participate in code reviews with members of the R&D staff as part of a robust development process.
    • Create reports, visualizations and other documentation explaining the project.

    • Present project results to members of the Baseball Operations Department.
    • Answer ad-hoc requests for reports, visualizations and research projects.

    Qualifications:
    To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required.

    • Understanding of statistics and modeling techniques, including probability, linear regression and logistic regression.
    • Demonstrated experience with applied research required. Can be through a previous job role, schoolwork, or independent research and does not need to be baseball-related.
    • Proficiency with an analytical programming language required, R or Python preferred.
    • Proficiency with SQL and SQL databases required, Microsoft SQL or PostgreSQL preferred.
    • Deep knowledge of baseball rules, gameplay and player acquisition approaches.

    Education and/or Experience:
    Bachelor’s degree (B.S./B.A.) or current pursuit of Bachelor’s degree in a technical or scientific field, or equivalent experience is required. Advanced degree or current pursuit of advanced degree is desirable.

    Other Skills and Abilities:
    The individual must be capable of working extended hours such as overtime, nights, and weekends, when necessary. Travel to affiliates may be possible.

    To Apply:
    To apply, please complete the application that can be found here.

    The content in this posting was created and provided solely by the Milwaukee Brewers.

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