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RedEye
04-04-2012, 12:04 PM
I'm as happy as the next guy to see Cueto starting on Opening Day. It's a great testament to, among other things, the organization's ability to develop its own pitching talent. That said, I am skeptical of the growing number of stories, most of them in the "mainstream" baseball media, that tout Cueto as an ace (see this Reds.com story (http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20120402&content_id=27848580&vkey=news_cin&c_id=cin) from Mark Sheldon as a most recent example). An excerpt:


CINCINNATI -- Johnny Cueto has ascended to a role in the Reds' rotation many hoped he would eventually assume five seasons ago when he was just a 22-year-old kid debuting in the Majors.

Cueto, now 26, is Cincinnati's undisputed No. 1 starter. Of course, that means he has the honor of taking the mound on Opening Day vs. the Marlins on Thursday at Great American Ball Park.

Now, I know that part of this just has to do with the need for Sheldon to "skim the surface" of the real narrative -- and I certainly hope that he knows that Cueto has neither the track record nor the peripherals to suggest he is truly a dominant pitcher. Most projections have him regressing a bit this year, even if there is a growing recognition that his ability to induce ground balls may indeed be a sustainable skill, in some sense replacing the need to "miss bats" that most saber-inclined minds seek in order to identify a true "ace."

My question is this: at what point do you think Cueto can be universally acknowledged as an ace?

If anything, I think Latos is probably the SP more worthy of that distinction on the staff at this point, but I'm very curious as to what RedZoners think about Cueto's status and when he could approach the level that writers like Sheldon already seems ready to give him after just one partial season of an elite ERA.

RANDY IN INDY
04-04-2012, 12:20 PM
I think that Latos and Cueto have "ace" kind of stuff, but for me, to truly wear the title of "Ace" a pitcher must perform exceptionally, consistently, and have the ability and mentality to almost single handedly snap a losing streak and perform exceptionally in big games against great teams and players.

Superdude
04-04-2012, 12:40 PM
"Mainstream" baseball media isn't exactly accepting, or even digging into BABIP and FIP at this point. Cueto looks like an ace by traditional measures, so it's not too surprising that he's getting that recognition.

redsmetz
04-04-2012, 12:50 PM
I think often there is a need to pigeonhole players in certain named roles. And yet, how often does a club have a flat out, no doubt "ace"?

I often think back to the Big Red Machine. They were not known for their pitching, particularly not any one standout, although some got more accolades than others. And I'd love to see what a discussion about that staff would have looked like if there had been a 1970's version of RZ. There were some good pitchers on those clubs and they got the job done, with Sparky pulling the levers in such a new way.

I think this staff has the chance to exceed what the BRM clubs pitchers did. Whether one or another of them is termed an "ace," I'm not worried about much. I want them to get the job done and help us win a lot of games.

PuffyPig
04-04-2012, 02:57 PM
Cincy historically gives the first game start to the pitcher who pitched the best the year before.

Cueto gets the honour for that reason.

757690
04-04-2012, 03:04 PM
Cueto's never had enough wins in a season to be an Ace ;)

RedsManRick
04-04-2012, 03:06 PM
I went in to my take on Cueto in the Chapman thread (http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94232&page=21), but the short version is: No, not even close. Cueto is a solid, middle-of-the-rotation starter who has a great story and is coming off a year in which he was both good and extremely fortunate.

Johnny Footstool
04-04-2012, 03:07 PM
He needs a K/9 over 7 to even approach "ace" status.

wolfboy
04-04-2012, 04:03 PM
He needs a K/9 over 7 to even approach "ace" status.

I don't know if I agree. Certainly, someone with a K/9 over 7 is much more likely to be an ace than someone below that threshold, but guys like Steve Carlton, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer and Don Sutton all reached the Hall of Fame, and arguably "ace" status, while rarely having a K/9 over 7. More recently, Tom Glavine is a pitcher that wasn't close to a K/9 of over 7 for his career, but still was an arguable ace for much of it.

I'd also add that I don't think Cueto is an "ace."

wolfboy
04-04-2012, 04:05 PM
One other point - I think part of the equation, as others have mentioned, is sustained success. The problem with Cueto is that there are a lot of indicators that suggest he won't sustain the success he attained last year because it was highly attributable to luck.

reds44
04-04-2012, 04:13 PM
You'll be able to answer this after this year.

Captain Hook
04-04-2012, 04:23 PM
You'll be able to answer this after this year.

End of the yea?How Cueto does tomorrow is all that it will take.;)

Rojo
04-04-2012, 04:39 PM
Needs 200 inning season. But he's a perfect 2 or 3 for a small park.

RedEye
04-04-2012, 04:48 PM
I think often there is a need to pigeonhole players in certain named roles. And yet, how often does a club have a flat out, no doubt "ace"?


Obviously there are limits to any conceptual category -- and I'm not arguing that the word "ace" is an ironclad term by any means. What does interest me, though, is the extent to which sports writing tends to skew terms for the sake of a good story. The idea of an ace, IMO, loses substantial meaning when we start throwing it around whenever a pitcher has a few good games in a row. To me, that's what Cueto is right now -- a good story, to be sure, but not yet at the level to where we need to be throwing around superlatives. He's what we want the Reds farm system to produce, of course. He's even fulfilled a large part of his promise. But to me, an "ace" should be a clear-cut member of the top tier of pitchers in baseball -- and he's not there yet, certainly not statistically and probably not even anecdotally.

RedEye
04-04-2012, 04:52 PM
Another thought:

Latos, in some ways, is the opposite of Cueto at this point and time. He's got, by many accounts, the statistics to back up a claim as ace. He does not, however, have the "story" for whatever reason. Part of that has to do, probably, with the stubbornness of the W category in coverage of baseball. No "ace" should have 14 losses, after all! It is interesting, though, that players like Lincecum and Felix have won the Cy Young in recent years despite bad W-L records. To me, that signals some sort of shift in the mainstream terminology. I think that's a good thing -- and I hope that at some point the grand narratives of sportswriting will reflect a deeper, analytical appreciation of the importance of individual player performance.

Vottomatic
04-04-2012, 06:29 PM
Is Cueto an ace?

Ask me at the end of the 2012 season.

REDblooded
04-04-2012, 07:27 PM
I'd sure love for him to be considered one by all of baseball... I'm tired of sitting on this low number Bowman Chrome RC refractors...

dougdirt
04-04-2012, 08:18 PM
I am with Rick.... he isn't even close. He is a middle of the rotation starter who had some very good luck that made his numbers look better than his performance actually was or should be moving forward without improvement on his behalf.

I have said it a few times in the last week, but I feel that I could make a solid argument that Cueto might be the Reds 4th best starter behind Latos, Leake and Bailey. Of course I could also make a solid argument he is the 2nd best behind Latos, but that is kind of the point. No one is thinking Bailey or Leake are anything close to Aces, but Cueto, aside from his ERA in one season, hasn't shown he is able to really be separated from those two guys.

mth123
04-04-2012, 08:19 PM
He's a strong number 3. Ace is a term used too loosely. There are maybe 15, maybe less in all of the majors.

BTW - Latos is a number 2, Arroyo a strong 4, Leake a 4. Chapman and Bailey are question marks. There are no number 5s IMO. Just question marks who either move up the scale or fade away.


This is the season with the least question marks penciled into the rotation since the early 60s IMO.

dfs
04-04-2012, 08:32 PM
There's a lot of wishcasting going on when folks look at the local team.

How many solid major leaguers are in the reds lineup....Votto, Phillips, Bruce and....and that's really it isn't it? Everybody else has questions around them. Can Cozart do it all year long? Can Stubbs cash in on his tools? Can Rolen stay healthy?

The Bullpen looked great and then the injuries hit.....How many guys down there are going to be able to stay healthy and good?

Starters....It's quite possible that Bronson Arroyo will be the best starter this team has over the course of the season. Say that again with a straight face....Yeah, I couldn't either.

I HOPE they win 100 games and then 12 more in the post season. That would be fine with me, but when you get past the happy talk and all, there are some serious warts on this lineup.

wolfboy
04-04-2012, 10:09 PM
There's a lot of wishcasting going on when folks look at the local team.

How many solid major leaguers are in the reds lineup....Votto, Phillips, Bruce and....and that's really it isn't it? Everybody else has questions around them. Can Cozart do it all year long? Can Stubbs cash in on his tools? Can Rolen stay healthy?

The Bullpen looked great and then the injuries hit.....How many guys down there are going to be able to stay healthy and good?

Starters....It's quite possible that Bronson Arroyo will be the best starter this team has over the course of the season. Say that again with a straight face....Yeah, I couldn't either.

I HOPE they win 100 games and then 12 more in the post season. That would be fine with me, but when you get past the happy talk and all, there are some serious warts on this lineup.

I expect 3-5 wins from Hanigan/Mesoraco. I think we'll see 3+ wins from Stubbs. Far from warts IMHO.

nate
04-04-2012, 10:10 PM
I'm not sure what defines an "ace" so it's hard to say. If I had to guess, I'd say it would mean one of the 30 best starters in baseball.

If this is the definition, I'd have to say no, he's not.

If the definition of "ace" is your team's best starter, I'd have to say Latos is better than Cueto.

To me, Cueto is a slightly better than league average to league average starting pitcher. It will be interesting to see how he does this year.

BCubb2003
04-04-2012, 11:38 PM
If all we have are No. 2 and 3 starters, the season will never start.

Is he a stopper? Can we count on him to break a losing streak? Can we count on him for eight innings or more when the bullpen is fried? Is he the guy you want starting twice in a postseason series?

My answer would be: Not yet. But I think he's underrated.

BCubb2003
04-04-2012, 11:38 PM
If all we have are No. 2 and 3 starters, the season will never start.

Is he a stopper? Can we count on him to break a losing streak? Can we count on him for eight innings or more when the bullpen is fried? Is he the guy you want starting twice in a postseason series?

My answer would be: Not yet. But I think he's underrated.

Scrap Irony
04-05-2012, 12:18 AM
An ace is, by its very definition, one of the top 30 starters in baseball. Last season, Cueto was an ace, as he was one of those top 30. (Though his inning workload put him in the last part of that particular group, IMO.)

Latos is an entirely different argument.

757690
04-05-2012, 12:23 AM
For me, an ace is a pitcher with whom I feel comfortable pitching game 1 of a playoff series.

Last season, Cueto fit that description. We'll see if he does this year as well. Latos definitely fits that description this year.

WebScorpion
04-05-2012, 01:30 AM
We shall see... :D

Johnny Footstool
04-05-2012, 01:36 AM
I don't know if I agree. Certainly, someone with a K/9 over 7 is much more likely to be an ace than someone below that threshold, but guys like Steve Carlton, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer and Don Sutton all reached the Hall of Fame, and arguably "ace" status, while rarely having a K/9 over 7. More recently, Tom Glavine is a pitcher that wasn't close to a K/9 of over 7 for his career, but still was an arguable ace for much of it.

I'd also add that I don't think Cueto is an "ace."

In the modern game, the ability to miss bats is pretty important. While there are exceptions, it is rare for guys with K/9 under 7 to sustain success, and therefore reach "ace" status. Even guys like Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter achieved new levels of success after figuring out how to strike out batters at a higher rate. Cueto's K/9 is headed in the wrong direction.

Vottomatic
04-05-2012, 08:41 AM
In the modern game, the ability to miss bats is pretty important. While there are exceptions, it is rare for guys with K/9 under 7 to sustain success, and therefore reach "ace" status. Even guys like Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter achieved new levels of success after figuring out how to strike out batters at a higher rate. Cueto's K/9 is headed in the wrong direction.

I think it's too early to be having this discussion. Cueto just put it together. He obviously worked on relying on his defense, something Volquez wouldn't do. Pitch to contact.

But Cueto can get that K when he needs too. But he is trying to go 7+ innings. The stronger he gets, the more K's you will see.

Johnny Footstool
04-05-2012, 10:30 AM
I think it's too early to be having this discussion. Cueto just put it together. He obviously worked on relying on his defense, something Volquez wouldn't do. Pitch to contact.

But Cueto can get that K when he needs too. But he is trying to go 7+ innings. The stronger he gets, the more K's you will see.

Gaah! Fingernails on a chalkboard.

Let's hope he's able to go the Roy Halladay route and boost that K rate.

wolfboy
04-05-2012, 11:02 AM
In the modern game, the ability to miss bats is pretty important. While there are exceptions, it is rare for guys with K/9 under 7 to sustain success, and therefore reach "ace" status. Even guys like Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter achieved new levels of success after figuring out how to strike out batters at a higher rate. Cueto's K/9 is headed in the wrong direction.

I agree it's the exception more than the rule, but that doesn't mean Cueto or anyone else has to have a K/9 over 7 to be an ace. While "ace" is an amorphous term, in recent years, Tim Hudson put up six seasons of 5+ WAR baseball with a K/9 under 7; Brandon Webb won a Cy Young and put up a 7 WAR season with a K/9 under 7; Derek Lowe put up a 6 WAR season with a K/9 under 7.

I really don't disagree with anything you say other than that to even look at Cueto as an "ace" (or anyone for that matter), he has to have a K/9 over 7. In 2008, he had a K/9 well over 7, but everything points to the fact that he's a better pitcher today.

Johnny Footstool
04-05-2012, 11:47 AM
A K-rate over 7 isn't the only criteria, and it doesn't guarantee success. But part of being considered an "ace" in the modern game is having dominant stuff that hitters can't touch. That kind of stuff usually manifests itself in a high K-rate.

RedEye
04-05-2012, 12:44 PM
I think it's too early to be having this discussion. Cueto just put it together. He obviously worked on relying on his defense, something Volquez wouldn't do. Pitch to contact.

But Cueto can get that K when he needs too. But he is trying to go 7+ innings. The stronger he gets, the more K's you will see.

Well, clearly not for some of us -- since we are effectively having that discussion right now. I agree with you, though, that we will know a lot more about Cueto after we gather a bit more information.

wolfboy
04-05-2012, 01:01 PM
A K-rate over 7 isn't the only criteria, and it doesn't guarantee success. But part of being considered an "ace" in the modern game is having dominant stuff that hitters can't touch. That kind of stuff usually manifests itself in a high K-rate.

I guess I don't see anything particularly unique about the modern game which suggests that a guy can't be an ace with a K/9 under 7. Out of the ordinary? Yeah, sure. Impossible or even improbable? Not really.

dougdirt
04-05-2012, 07:06 PM
I guess I don't see anything particularly unique about the modern game which suggests that a guy can't be an ace with a K/9 under 7. Out of the ordinary? Yeah, sure. Impossible or even improbable? Not really.

Modern game has fewer "weak bats" in the line up. In todays game, most of the guys in the line up can take you deep. It hasn't been like that for all that long, so the strikeout is more important today than ever before.

WildcatFan
04-05-2012, 07:16 PM
Is Cueto really an ace?

Yes.

Captain Hook
04-05-2012, 07:27 PM
Modern game has fewer "weak bats" in the line up. In todays game, most of the guys in the line up can take you deep. It hasn't been like that for all that long, so the strikeout is more important today than ever before.

I know it's been mentioned but it really does seems like Cueto can get a strikeout when he needs it and today was a good example.Only four K's but all came with runners on and he only allowed 5 to reach through his 7ip.

757690
04-05-2012, 07:37 PM
Modern game has fewer "weak bats" in the line up. In todays game, most of the guys in the line up can take you deep. It hasn't been like that for all that long, so the strikeout is more important today than ever before.

HR's are on a decline, down from around 185 per team a season to around 145 per team a season. Still not like it was in the 70's and 80's, when teams were averaging around 105 a season, but K's are becoming less and less important as PED's slowly leave the game.

With more low scoring games, more defensive minded players will be utilized, leading to more easy outs. It won't be like when a team would have Belanger and Dempsey at the bottom of the lineup, but closer to that then during the steroid era.

PuffyPig
04-05-2012, 07:47 PM
Boom. Yes.

Vottomatic
04-05-2012, 08:13 PM
He was looking pretty Ace-ish to me today. :lol:

wolfboy
04-05-2012, 08:18 PM
HR's are on a decline, down from around 185 per team a season to around 145 per team a season. Still not like it was in the 70's and 80's, when teams were averaging around 105 a season, but K's are becoming less and less important as PED's slowly leave the game.

With more low scoring games, more defensive minded players will be utilized, leading to more easy outs. It won't be like when a team would have Belanger and Dempsey at the bottom of the lineup, but closer to that then during the steroid era.

This was my thought when I said I don't see any compelling reason why K/9 is more important now than ever.

Brutus
04-05-2012, 08:19 PM
I think strikeouts are only one part of the equation of being an 'ace.' Not walking guys and keeping the ball down are the other major parts of it. He does all three really well.

Give me a guy that strikes out 6.5-7, walks around 2 and has a 1.5-1 GB:FB ratio, and that's pretty close to an ace.

RBA
04-05-2012, 08:28 PM
Somebody has him behind Bailey? LOL.

The Voice of IH
04-05-2012, 08:47 PM
Sheldon must be reading this thread, because he peppered this article.

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2012_04_05_miamlb_cinmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=cin&partnerId=aw-6639893297382464416-1025

OldRightHander
04-05-2012, 08:58 PM
I was there, sitting up pretty high, but still he looked darn solid. There were a few at bats where I thought that the hitter just looked foolish and overmatched, even though he managed to put the ball in play. If he pitches like that all year, I like our chances.

REDblooded
04-05-2012, 10:05 PM
K's are the HR's of pitchers... Sexy and overrated...

Gimme a guy that gets on base and advances runners...

Gimme a guy that keeps guys off of the bases and goes deep in games.

Too bad that makes for boring articles for our professional bloggers.

dougdirt
04-05-2012, 10:09 PM
K's are the HR's of pitchers... Sexy and overrated...

Gimme a guy that gets on base and advances runners...

Gimme a guy that keeps guys off of the bases and goes deep in games.

Too bad that makes for boring articles for our professional bloggers.

It is generally tougher to keep guys off the bases when you are letting them put it in play.

WebScorpion
04-05-2012, 10:21 PM
It is generally tougher to keep guys off the bases when you are letting them put it in play.

Conversely, it's generally tougher to pitch deep into a game when you are striking out batters rather than getting quick ground outs and popouts. ;)

dougdirt
04-05-2012, 10:24 PM
Conversely, it's generally tougher to pitch deep into a game when you are striking out batters rather than getting quick ground outs and popouts. ;)

Justin Verlander disagrees with you completely. The key to going deeper into games is avoiding walks, not avoiding strikeouts.

M2
04-05-2012, 10:43 PM
Always dug Cueto. I don't get the fretting over his K rate. He's far from deficient in that category.

As others have mentioned, his main need is to boost the IP. The guy has stuff. He's 26. He's already got solid career numbers despite coming up at an extremely young age.

Is he an ace? It takes multiple awesome years to enter that territory. In the meantime he's a pretty damn good pitcher. Enjoy that, because it's not like the Reds have had a whole lot of those over the years.

VR
04-05-2012, 11:02 PM
Always dug Cueto. I don't get the fretting over his K rate. He's far from deficient in that category.

As others have mentioned, his main need is to boost the IP. The guy has stuff. He's 26. He's already got solid career numbers despite coming up at an extremely young age.

Is he an ace? It takes multiple awesome years to enter that territory. In the meantime he's a pretty damn good pitcher. Enjoy that, because it's not like the Reds have had a whole lot of those over the years.

Having control of his cabeza has always been more of a struggle for Cueto that control of his pitches. I'm thrilled to see him get control of that very critical ingredient for star pitching.

Dom Heffner
04-05-2012, 11:05 PM
Conversely, it's generally tougher to pitch deep into a game when you are striking out batters rather than getting quick ground outs and popouts. ;)

How does one make a hitter hit the ball at someone?

This must be some incredible skill.

The Voice of IH
04-05-2012, 11:10 PM
How does one make a hitter hit the ball at someone?

This must be some incredible skill.

Keeping hitters off balance?

REDblooded
04-05-2012, 11:19 PM
How does one make a hitter hit the ball at someone?

This must be some incredible skill.

Weakly hit infield grounders typically end up in a glove.

jojo
04-05-2012, 11:43 PM
Weakly hit infield grounders typically end up in a glove.

Who routinely does that?

RedlegJake
04-05-2012, 11:44 PM
Let em hit the ball but keep them off balance - the skill isn't in keeping them from hitting it at someone Dom - it's in the simple law of averages. We KNOW that hitters putting the ball in play will only get on at a base rate of 3 times per 10 attempts - if you don't walk many hitters, K a few to help you out of jams, and aren't letting them smash the ball hard and dead center then you should pitch effectively just on averages. Add an outstanding defense to help edge the averages in your favor a tad more and yes - pitching to contact works if you think of it in terms of letting batters hit it in an off balance not quite solidly kind of way. The skill is in keeping big league professional hitters off balance so they aren't smashing it.

savafan
04-05-2012, 11:52 PM
I honestly have to wonder if some peoples' obsession with number crunching every stat ruins the enjoyment of the game for them.

Real time results are what matter, not the potential of sustaining them in the future at this present time. Right now, Cueto is pitching with Ace-like results. Enjoy that!

jojo
04-05-2012, 11:59 PM
I honestly have to wonder if some peoples' obsession with number crunching every stat ruins the enjoyment of the game for them.

Real time results are what matter, not the potential of sustaining them in the future at this present time. Right now, Cueto is pitching with Ace-like results. Enjoy that!

I tend to think that those obsessed with real time results actually fail to appreciate a majority of what happens in the game.

RedEye
04-06-2012, 12:01 AM
I honestly have to wonder if some peoples' obsession with number crunching every stat ruins the enjoyment of the game for them.

Real time results are what matter, not the potential of sustaining them in the future at this present time. Right now, Cueto is pitching with Ace-like results. Enjoy that!

Rest assured sava, everyone on here is enjoying the results. There's no debating that.

But sustainability is important -- especially when you care about the future of the franchise you love. That is why we're on this board in the first place, after all -- because we care about the present and future of the Reds -- right? And wouldn't you grant that if there's a way to better understand whether or not Cueto is going to continue doing what he's doing, then we should discuss that rather than just writing platitudes about how great he's doing?

savafan
04-06-2012, 12:10 AM
But sustainability is important -- especially when you care about the future of the franchise you love. That is why we're on this board in the first place, after all -- because we care about the present and future of the Reds -- right? And wouldn't you grant that if there's a way to better understand whether or not Cueto is going to continue doing what he's doing, then we should discuss that rather than just writing platitudes about how great he's doing?

Sure, but I keep seeing the same people say over and over that Cueto can't sustain his success, while he actually has been doing a pretty good job of sustaining it thus far. The same people have tried hammering into my head that Homer Bailey's peripherals show him to be on the verge of high sustainability of considerable major league success, while he's never come close to putting it all together. I just feel that 10, 15, 20 years down the road, if Homer continues to fail and never comes close to what they envision him to be, they still won't believe that he was a bad starting pitcher, while if Cueto somehow manages to rein in a Cy Young or two, they'll just say that he's lucky and truly a middle of the pack starting pitcher.

savafan
04-06-2012, 12:11 AM
I tend to think that those obsessed with real time results actually fail to appreciate a majority of what happens in the game.

Nah, there's very little I enjoy more than this game.

RedEye
04-06-2012, 12:18 AM
Sure, but I keep seeing the same people say over and over that Cueto can't sustain his success, while he actually has been doing a pretty good job of sustaining it thus far. The same people have tried hammering into my head that Homer Bailey's peripherals show him to be on the verge of high sustainability of considerable major league success, while he's never come close to putting it all together. I just feel that 10, 15, 20 years down the road, if Homer continues to fail and never comes close to what they envision him to be, they still won't believe that he was a bad starting pitcher, while if Cueto somehow manages to rein in a Cy Young or two, they'll just say that he's lucky and truly a middle of the pack starting pitcher.

I hear ya. But you can pull hypotheticals like that out of your pocket all day. It is really hard to know what will happen 10 or 15 years down the road (except for that Joey Votto will likely still be on the Reds).

If you see this type of analysis as a buzz kill, I guess I understand where you are coming from. But don't put words in people's mouths either. No one is saying Cueto is a bad pitcher or that they wouldn't be happy if he does well. Fact is, Cueto really hasn't been sustaining anything like elite results for very long, and his 2.31 ERA last year really should have been something more like a 3.50 ERA.

Just like you, we're all hoping like the dickens that he can take the next real step to being a stud starting pitcher. But we're managing our expectations with numbers. Consider these projections the most hopeful ones possible.

dougdirt
04-06-2012, 01:09 AM
Sure, but I keep seeing the same people say over and over that Cueto can't sustain his success, while he actually has been doing a pretty good job of sustaining it thus far. The same people have tried hammering into my head that Homer Bailey's peripherals show him to be on the verge of high sustainability of considerable major league success, while he's never come close to putting it all together. I just feel that 10, 15, 20 years down the road, if Homer continues to fail and never comes close to what they envision him to be, they still won't believe that he was a bad starting pitcher, while if Cueto somehow manages to rein in a Cy Young or two, they'll just say that he's lucky and truly a middle of the pack starting pitcher.
Sustaining it thus far? You mean one non-full season and then one start the next season?

RedsManRick
04-06-2012, 01:12 AM
I honestly have to wonder if some peoples' obsession with number crunching every stat ruins the enjoyment of the game for them.

Real time results are what matter, not the potential of sustaining them in the future at this present time. Right now, Cueto is pitching with Ace-like results. Enjoy that!

Why do we have to treat enjoying the real time results like they're the same thing as trying to accurately assess what the most likely future results are?

I was one of Adam Dunn's biggest defenders from a value/production standpoint; I hated watching him hit.

Cueto had a great game today and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Believing that his skill set suggests he's likely to pitch like a #3 starter over the course of the season and not like an ace does not detract from that in any way. If anything, it makes games like this all the more enjoyable. When your expectations are more in with what actually ends up happening, you get disappointed less often and pleasantly surprised more often.

RedEye
04-06-2012, 01:14 AM
When your expectations are more in with what actually ends up happening, you get disappointed less often and pleasantly surprised more often.

Exactly. Managing expectations with numbers. It's therapeutic!

757690
04-06-2012, 01:27 AM
Who routinely does that?

We don't know, because so far, we have not been tracking weakly hit ground balls.

Right now, we track ground balls, which are defined as any hit ball that touches the ground before it touches a fielders mitt; flyballs and line drives, which are defined by the trajectory of the ball. These definitions tells us very little about how hard a ball was hit.

Many ground balls are hit harder than flyballs, and even line drives. Even many infield popups are very hard hit, basically homers that are just missed. So, just by looking at a pitcher's GB/FB/LD lines, we cannot with any accuracy tell how hard his pitches are being hit.

Now there has been a bit of research been done on the velocity of ball as it leaves the bat, but not enough to be able to draw any real conclusions. I do think that when that technology becomes more accessible, and more data like that accumulates, we will learn much more about pitching than we currently do.

dougdirt
04-06-2012, 01:32 AM
We don't know, because so far, we have not been tracking weakly hit ground balls.

Right now, we track ground balls, which are defined as any hit ball that touches the ground before it touches a fielders mitt; flyballs and line drives, which are defined by the trajectory of the ball. These definitions tells us very little about how hard a ball was hit.

Many ground balls are hit harder than flyballs, and even line drives. Even many infield popups are very hard hit, basically homers that are just missed. So, just by looking at a pitcher's GB/FB/LD lines, we cannot with any accuracy tell how hard his pitches are being hit.

Now there has been a bit of research been done on the velocity of ball as it leaves the bat, but not enough to be able to draw any real conclusions. I do think that when that technology becomes more accessible, and more data like that accumulates, we will learn much more about pitching than we currently do.

Essentially you are suggesting that Johnny Cueto is somehow better at inducing weak groundballs than just about any pitcher in the last 30 years. Cueto has benefited from some good infield defense behind him and plenty of luck in the last 160 innings he has thrown.

OnBaseMachine
04-06-2012, 01:41 AM
I do agree with what a few others have said - Cueto can get the strikeout when he needs it. Today was a good example. Three of his final four outs were via the strikeout. It seemed like he was reaching back for more because he knew his day was nearing an end at that point. His stuff is still filthy. I love watching him pitch.

757690
04-06-2012, 01:46 AM
Essentially you are suggesting that Johnny Cueto is somehow better at inducing weak groundballs than just about any pitcher in the last 30 years. Cueto has benefited from some good infield defense behind him and plenty of luck in the last 160 innings he has thrown.

With that post, I wasn't suggesting anything other than we don't know who induces weak contact, at least not yet.

Caveat Emperor
04-06-2012, 01:52 AM
Cueto's K/9 will tick up this year -- if for no other reason than he's developing a reputation as a tough pitcher to score on and hitters will start to press more against him.

Strikeouts are something of a self-fulfilling prophecy in that regard.

OUReds
04-06-2012, 02:12 AM
With that post, I wasn't suggesting anything other than we don't know who induces weak contact, at least not yet.

What rudimentary numbers we do have certainly suggest he is inducing weak contact. His LD%, GB%, and HR/FB were all top 10ish in baseball last year among starters, and those numbers have more or less improved each year (as his k/9 has decreased). He was certainly lucky last year, but I'm not willing to chalk it all up to luck.

PuffyPig
04-06-2012, 02:42 AM
Conversely, it's generally tougher to pitch deep into a game when you are striking out batters rather than getting quick ground outs and popouts. ;)

Yes, give me a pitcher that can induce weak contact and control BABIP anyday.....

Of course, that pitcher does not exist.....

PuffyPig
04-06-2012, 02:43 AM
With that post, I wasn't suggesting anything other than we don't know who induces weak contact, at least not yet.

I'll answer that for you, no one induces weak contact......

757690
04-06-2012, 02:48 AM
I'll answer that for you, no one induces weak contact......

How do we know? We have nothing that measures it. At least not yet.

Brutus
04-06-2012, 03:39 AM
It is kind of counter-intuitive to say no pitcher exists that induces weak contact.

We know that pitchers do control the type of contact... i.e. ground ball, fly ball, etc. So why couldn't they also control, to some degree, the degree of contact? Part of being a ground ball or fly ball pitcher is having a heavy ball; location; velocity; movement... all those things. It sort of is contradictory to suggest those things can't also control how hard contact is made.

It goes without saying that if I throw a ball straight as an arrow, a hitter is likelier to be able to hit the ball square on the fat portion of the bat. However, if I have a lot of movement, more hitters are going to be slightly fooled and are not going to hit the ball as hard. That's already known to be common sense because it's the reason we see certain guys induce more grounders. I see no reason why we won't eventually find it within how hard balls are hit too.

Captain Hook
04-06-2012, 04:05 AM
How do we know? We have nothing that measures it. At least not yet.

The pitcher that doesn't strikeout a lot of batters, doesn't walk a lot either, maintains a low era, wins a bunch of games and wears a red cap with a big C on would likely be king of any such stat.

WildcatFan
04-06-2012, 11:11 AM
It is kind of counter-intuitive to say no pitcher exists that induces weak contact.

We know that pitchers do control the type of contact... i.e. ground ball, fly ball, etc. So why couldn't they also control, to some degree, the degree of contact? Part of being a ground ball or fly ball pitcher is having a heavy ball; location; velocity; movement... all those things. It sort of is contradictory to suggest those things can't also control how hard contact is made.

It goes without saying that if I throw a ball straight as an arrow, a hitter is likelier to be able to hit the ball square on the fat portion of the bat. However, if I have a lot of movement, more hitters are going to be slightly fooled and are not going to hit the ball as hard. That's already known to be common sense because it's the reason we see certain guys induce more grounders. I see no reason why we won't eventually find it within how hard balls are hit too.

See Halladay, Roy.

Caveat Emperor
04-06-2012, 11:27 AM
Of course, that pitcher does not exist.....

A great sinkerball pitcher (like a Brandon Webb in his prime) can control BABIP to a certain extent. Webb spent the majority of his career with a BABIP in the .280s.

Greg Maddux spent five years during the prime of his career living under .274 for BABIP.

jojo
04-06-2012, 11:30 AM
It's very intuitive to say very few pitchers have existed that induce weak contact to a great enough magnitude for it to be measureable with BABIP.

To the extent that pitchers effect the speed of a batted ball, it's too small of an effect on outcome for people to conclude Cueto's BABIP last season was due to such an influence more so than it was due to randomness.

Caveat Emperor
04-06-2012, 11:38 AM
It's very intuitive to say very few pitchers have existed that induce weak contact to a great enough magnitude for it to be measureable with BABIP.

Ok, but the statement was that pitchers who can influence BABIP "don't exist" -- I'll give you that it's less the rule and more the exception, though.

jojo
04-06-2012, 11:48 AM
Ok, but the statement was that pitchers who can influence BABIP "don't exist" -- I'll give you that it's less the rule and more the exception, though.

DIPS theory doesn't argue that those pitchers don't exist BTW.

M2
04-06-2012, 11:59 AM
Fact is, Cueto really hasn't been sustaining anything like elite results for very long, and his 2.31 ERA last year really should have been something more like a 3.50 ERA.

Sure, but that would have been another definitive step forward for him, even in a year where he lost time to injury.

He's 26 and indisputably on the right arc in terms of performance. "Ace" is a loaded term, but if he can deliver 200 innings in 2012, I don't think there's much question that he'll be a major asset. For instance, I doubt anyone would be shocked by a 200 IP/1.20 WHIP/3.25 ERA sort of season from Cueto. And that's generally where his progression is taking him.

jojo
04-06-2012, 12:13 PM
Sure, but that would have been another definitive step forward for him, even in a year where he lost time to injury.

He's 26 and indisputably on the right arc in terms of performance. "Ace" is a loaded term, but if he can deliver 200 innings in 2012, I don't think there's much question that he'll be a major asset. For instance, I doubt anyone would be shocked by a 200 IP/1.20 WHIP/3.25 ERA sort of season from Cueto. And that's generally where his progression is taking him.

To me it's difficult to qualify Cueto as anything other than a homerun for the Reds. He's a homegrown starting pitcher that has logged almost 800 above average innings in their rotation as a major leaguer posting about 8.5 WAR at the cost of chicken feed. Any actual step forward he takes in true talent is gravy at this point. Absent an injury, he's all but certain to at least be worth what they're paying him for his extension and if his arm fell off in his next start and he never pitched another inning for them, he's still provided surplus value as a Red relative to what the organization would ulitmately have to pay him.

It's all gravy and it still might be some cavier.

M2
04-06-2012, 12:16 PM
A great sinkerball pitcher (like a Brandon Webb in his prime) can control BABIP to a certain extent. Webb spent the majority of his career with a BABIP in the .280s.

Greg Maddux spent five years during the prime of his career living under .274 for BABIP.

What those two had, and what Halladay has, is extreme movement on their pitches. It's not that they induce hitters to swing meekly, but hitters have a harder time centering the ball on the sweet spot of the bat.

As it turns out, Cueto's pitches have a ton of movement in every area of the strikezone (e.g. he's not just a down-and-away guy). And, IMO, the long-term value of that ability isn't in influencing BABIP, but in cutting down your opponents' SLG. What really stood out about Cueto in 2011 was the way he limited XBH. If he continues that, then he's going to be mighty effective out on the mound.

jojo
04-06-2012, 12:22 PM
I think the most interesting thing about Cueto in 2011 is his batted ball tendencies were dramatically different than previous years. A Cueto who is in the NL top ten of GB inducers is a starting arm in a different class than "neutral-to-FB" Cueto.

757690
04-06-2012, 01:19 PM
It's very intuitive to say very few pitchers have existed that induce weak contact to a great enough magnitude for it to be measureable with BABIP.

To the extent that pitchers effect the speed of a batted ball, it's too small of an effect on outcome for people to conclude Cueto's BABIP last season was due to such an influence more so than it was due to randomness.

Again, we don't know how much pitchers effect the speed of the batted ball, because there hasn't been enough research done on it yet. At least not that I am aware of. If you know of any data on this, please share it, and I mean that sincerely.

jojo
04-06-2012, 02:34 PM
Again, we don't know how much pitchers effect the speed of the batted ball, because there hasn't been enough research done on it yet. At least not that I am aware of. If you know of any data on this, please share it, and I mean that sincerely.

We know that the velocity of a batted ball can effect the outcome of a batted ball, and we certainly can suppose a pitcher may be able to influence the outtcome of a batted ball with one of his pitches from work that guys like Fast, Kalk etc have done. But what we know for certain is that very few pitchers historically have lower than expected BABIP. That's a large regression elephant to have to step around when one wants to argue a narrative that pitchers command contact quality.

Johnny Footstool
04-06-2012, 02:44 PM
What those two had, and what Halladay has, is extreme movement on their pitches. It's not that they induce hitters to swing meekly, but hitters have a harder time centering the ball on the sweet spot of the bat.



Maddux, Webb, and Halladay also tended to put up K/9 over or near 7 in their most dominant years.

jojo
04-06-2012, 03:32 PM
Maddux, Webb, and Halladay also tended to put up K/9 over or near 7 in their most dominant years.

Webb has both above average K rates and walkk rates while being an extreme groundball pitcher. He is just a few strikeouts away from being the "ideal pitcher". Maddux literally bludgoned hitters with his command while inducing groundballs. Halladay is Maddux with more Ks and if you can believe it, even better command. These guys are hall of fame caliber exceptions.

Johnny Footstool
04-06-2012, 03:41 PM
Webb has both above average K rates and walkk rates while being an extreme groundball pitcher. He is just a few strikeouts away from being the "ideal pitcher". Maddux literally bludgoned hitters with his command while inducing groundballs. Halladay is Maddux with more Ks and if you can believe it, even better command. These guys are hall of fame caliber exceptions.

In other words, "aces."

757690
04-06-2012, 03:43 PM
We know that the velocity of a batted ball can effect the outcome of a batted ball, and we certainly can suppose a pitcher may be able to influence the outtcome of a batted ball with one of his pitches from work that guys like Fast, Kalk etc have done. But what we know for certain is that very few pitchers historically have lower than expected BABIP. That's a large regression elephant to have to step around when one wants to argue a narrative that pitchers command contact quality.

You are assuming that there is a correlation between BABIP and inducing weak contact. I would think the more important correlation would be between slugging percentage and inducing weak contact, especially since that leads more to runs scored.

Ask most pitchers who try to induce weak contact, and they will tell you their goal into reduce the number of extra base hits, especially home runs, not to limit the number of hits.

wolfboy
04-06-2012, 04:00 PM
In other words, "aces."

More like once in a generation types.

dougdirt
04-06-2012, 04:02 PM
You are assuming that there is a correlation between BABIP and inducing weak contact. I would think the more important correlation would be between slugging percentage and inducing weak contact, especially since that leads more to runs scored.

Ask most pitchers who try to induce weak contact, and they will tell you their goal into reduce the number of extra base hits, especially home runs, not to limit the number of hits.

Every pitcher tries to induce weak contact. Are you actually suggesting that some aren't?

The correlation between slugging and weak contact could simply be related to slugging and GB rates. Groundballs aren't going for home runs, so their slugging is going to tend to be lower. Get more grounders, lower your slugging against.

757690
04-06-2012, 04:44 PM
Every pitcher tries to induce weak contact. Are you actually suggesting that some aren't?

The correlation between slugging and weak contact could simply be related to slugging and GB rates. Groundballs aren't going for home runs, so their slugging is going to tend to be lower. Get more grounders, lower your slugging against.

Well, I did spend the last decade watching Reds pitchers, so I have to say that it seemed like some pitchers weren't trying that hard. lol

Good point about GB and SLG. I just think that that is only part of the story. If you get a hitter off balance, you'll get as many week flyballs as weak ground balls. And there are a lot of ground balls that are scorched.

I don't know what better data about types of contact will reveal, but I think it's worth pursuing.

RedsManRick
04-06-2012, 05:22 PM
I think it's important to remember that it's both the what and the how much. Roy Halladay and Greg Maddux walk less than half the number of runners Cueto does. Brandon Webb had a GB:FB ratio more than twice Cueto's. Yes, there are similarities between their styles, but it's like comparing Jeff Keppinger to Pete Rose. The details matter.

And the thing is, it shows in their peripheral-based ERA estimators like FIP. Halladay has a career ERA of 3.22 and a career FIP of 3.30 (xFIP of 3.15). Webb's FIPs during his peak were in the 3.25 range. Maddux's was down in the 2s. Can pitchers sustain ERAs less than their FIP/xFIP/SIERA? Sure. But it's by a few tenths of a point, not a full run.

The reality is that the things a pitcher can do to induce weak contact are the exact same things he does to minimize walks and homers and maximize strikeouts. All of the deception and off-balance and so forth is absolutely true/real -- but by-and-large, it shows up in the peripherals.

Just consider, does the pitcher really control whether the batter swings and misses completely or swings and just catches the edge of his bat on the ball -- an inch worth of difference? Can he choose which one happens? And more to the point, could he choose to start inducing more weak contact without it affecting his other peripherals?

M2
04-06-2012, 05:54 PM
Maddux, Webb, and Halladay also tended to put up K/9 over or near 7 in their most dominant years.

I would expect that 10 years from now we'll be saying the same thing about Cueto (though Maddux, Webb and Halladay all won Cy Youngs with sub-7.0 K/9s). Cueto has a career K/9 of 7.0 and I'd expect him to be somewhere within a normal variance of that number this season. Cueto's not posting red flag K/9s. His 2011 K/9 was a bit lower than normal and it was more than offset by his HR/9 dropping to 0.5.

Point being, I don't see anything preventing Cueto from having dominant seasons.


Just consider, does the pitcher really control whether the batter swings and misses completely or swings and just catches the edge of his bat on the ball -- an inch worth of difference? Can he choose which one happens? And more to the point, could he choose to start inducing more weak contact without it affecting his other peripherals?

I don't think it's a matter of choice, so much as a matter of stuff. Cueto's got stuff. He throws pitches with lots of movement and he can locate them.

jojo
04-06-2012, 06:01 PM
Cueto's career k/9 is a tad under 7 but it hasn't been 7 or above since 2008 having decreased each year since being promoted to the majors. At this point it would probably be surprising for him to have a k/9 of 7 or greater.

RedsManRick
04-06-2012, 06:16 PM
I would expect that 10 years from now we'll be saying the same thing about Cueto (though Maddux, Webb and Halladay all won Cy Youngs with sub-7.0 K/9s). Cueto has a career K/9 of 7.0 and I'd expect him to be somewhere within a normal variance of that number this season. Cueto's not posting red flag K/9s. His 2011 K/9 was a bit lower than normal and it was more than offset by his HR/9 dropping to 0.5.

Point being, I don't see anything preventing Cueto from having dominant seasons.

I don't think it's a matter of choice, so much as a matter of stuff. Cueto's got stuff. He throws pitches with lots of movement and he can locate them.

You're right, his K/9 is fine. He can be a dominant starter with his strikeout rate. however, in order to be dominant with a strikeout rate like his, you have to be stellar on the walks and homers front. He's good, but not great in terms of walks. And while he was very good in terms of HRs in 2011, that low HR rate was only partly due to his higher GB rate. There was a healthy dose of luck. Pick whatever weak-contact guy you want and check out his HR/FB. Cueto can limit how many flyballs he gives up, but he can't control how many of those FBs turn in to HRs -- not to the extent that he appeared to in 2011.

If he can lower the BBs and sustain a very high GB rate, he can be dominant. But if he keeps putting up the same peripherals this year that he put up last year, he will not be dominant.

Rojo
04-06-2012, 06:27 PM
FWIW, Maddox kept his HR/FB% well below ML average during his prime years.

jojo
04-06-2012, 06:40 PM
You are assuming that there is a correlation between BABIP and inducing weak contact. I would think the more important correlation would be between slugging percentage and inducing weak contact, especially since that leads more to runs scored.

Ask most pitchers who try to induce weak contact, and they will tell you their goal into reduce the number of extra base hits, especially home runs, not to limit the number of hits.

I'm assuming there is a strong correlation between BABIP and SLG

757690
04-06-2012, 10:42 PM
I'm assuming there is a strong correlation between BABIP and SLG

Then pitchers who give up less homeruns would have lower BABIP and visa versa. Or are you saying that pitchers have little control over their SLG?

jojo
04-06-2012, 10:48 PM
Then pitchers who give up less homeruns would have lower BABIP and visa versa. Or are you saying that pitchers have little control over their SLG?

They have little control over whether a flyball is a HR. BTW, HR are not included in BABIP because they are not balls in play.

757690
04-06-2012, 11:05 PM
They have little control over whether a flyball is a HR. BTW, HR are not included in BABIP because they are not balls in play.

So you are saying that pitchers have little control over their SLG? Because the stats say otherwise.

jojo
04-06-2012, 11:09 PM
So you are saying that pitchers have little control over their SLG? Because the stats say otherwise.

Stats support that pitchers have little control over whether a flyball is a HR.

757690
04-06-2012, 11:18 PM
Stats support that pitchers have little control over whether a flyball is a HR.

But that is not the same as saying that they have little control over their SLG.

And this is the only way I can think of in which their BABIP correlates to their SLG.

jojo
04-06-2012, 11:23 PM
But that is not the same as saying that they have little control over their SLG.

And this is the only way I can think of in which their BABIP correlates to their SLG.

Hits correlate with slugging. The higher the BABIP, the higher the SLG.

757690
04-06-2012, 11:43 PM
Hits correlate with slugging. The higher the BABIP, the higher the SLG.

That's not a strong correlation. A strong correlation would be if pitchers with high SLG, had equally high BABIP, and visa versa. A list of pitcher's SLG from high to low, would roughly mirror a list of pitcher's BABIP, from high to low, and that isn't the case.

jojo
04-07-2012, 12:03 AM
That's not a strong correlation. A strong correlation would be if pitchers with high SLG, had equally high BABIP, and visa versa. A list of pitcher's SLG from high to low, would roughly mirror a list of pitcher's BABIP, from high to low, and that isn't the case.

HR aren't included in BABIP and it still strongly correlates with SLG. The list of pitchers SLG from high to low does roughly mirror a list of pitchers BABIP and to the extent the association is weakened, a major driver is the removal of HR.

757690
04-07-2012, 12:37 AM
HR aren't included in BABIP and it still strongly correlates with SLG. The list of pitchers SLG from high to low does roughly mirror a list of pitchers BABIP and to the extent the association is weakened, a major driver is the removal of HR.

Is there a very small variance between the highest and the lowest pitcher's SLG as well, because that would need to be the case in order for the correlation to have any meaning, at least in this discussion.

M2
04-07-2012, 12:39 AM
I'm assuming there is a strong correlation between BABIP and SLG

Far as I can tell there's almost no correlation between the two. Joe Saunders, Jhoulys Chacin and Ted Lilly were among the NL BABIP leaders last year, and none of them posted a low SLG against. Roy Halladay, Matt Garza and Chris Carpenter had low SLGs against and above average BABIPs.

Good pitchers routinely keeping the opposing SLG low. Meanwhile BABIP jumps all over the place. In other words, SLG reflects skill, BABIP reflects luck.

dougdirt
04-07-2012, 02:16 AM
Roy Halladay, Matt Garza and Chris Carpenter had low SLGs against and above average BABIPs.

Good pitchers routinely keeping the opposing SLG low. Meanwhile BABIP jumps all over the place. In other words, SLG reflects skill, BABIP reflects luck.

Just wanted to quote it to point out that even top guys don't really control BABIP all that well.

OnBaseMachine
04-07-2012, 02:53 AM
From the Cincinnati Enquirer:


Ryan Ludwick, who made his Reds debut with an RBI double, said when he faced Cueto in the past, he felt as if Cueto were trying to strike out every hitter. That wasnt the case Thursday.

Hes pitching now, Ludwick said.

I dont care or look to strike out the hitters, Cueto said. I look to get the hitters out through less amount of pitches. Ill get more innings.


http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120405/SPT04/304050134

jojo
04-07-2012, 10:40 AM
Is there a very small variance between the highest and the lowest pitcher's SLG as well, because that would need to be the case in order for the correlation to have any meaning, at least in this discussion.

Here's data for pitchers between 2008-2011 tabulated as individual pitcher seasons (i.e. CC Sabathia will show up as 4 entries for example):


Mean Var STDev
BA .269 .0053 .073
BABIP .305 .0063 .079
SLG .429 .0209 .145


"Very small variance" can be defined differently by different individuals, but these variables are pretty tight IMHO. For reference here's the data for age of this population (which isn't so "tight"): Mean= 28.2; variance= 18.4; STDev= 4.3.

Here's the regression of the variables being discussed for pitchers between 2008-2011:



r2
BA/BABIP .98
BA/SLG .97
BABIP/SLG .93


Clearly, BABIP predicts SLG well.

757690
04-07-2012, 11:30 AM
Here's data for pitchers between 2008-2011 tabulated as individual pitcher seasons (i.e. CC Sabathia will show up as 4 entries for example):


Mean Var STDev
BA .269 .0053 .073
BABIP .305 .0063 .079
SLG .429 .0209 .145


"Very small variance" can be defined differently by different individuals, but these variables are pretty tight IMHO. For reference here's the data for age of this population (which isn't so "tight"): Mean= 28.2; variance= 18.4; STDev= 4.3.

Here's the regression of the variables being discussed for pitchers between 2008-2011:



r2
BA/BABIP .98
BA/SLG .97
BABIP/SLG .93


Clearly, BABIP predicts SLG well.

I have no idea what any of that means. Sorry. I'm not that smart. I'll just end this, because I have a feeling we're boring eveyone else. Lol

M2
04-07-2012, 03:37 PM
Here's the regression of the variables being discussed for pitchers between 2008-2011:



r2
BA/BABIP .98
BA/SLG .97
BABIP/SLG .93


Clearly, BABIP predicts SLG well.

I don't feel like crunching the numbers, but I can guarantee you've messed up big time in there. If Halladay, Garza and Carpenter can be top 10 among NL ERA qualifiers in SLG against, yet near the bottom the list for BABIP, then I can guarantee you there's no meaningful correlation between the two. It egregiously fails an eyeball test. The BABIP and SLG against lists are wholly different animals.

Brutus
04-07-2012, 04:00 PM
I don't feel like crunching the numbers, but I can guarantee you've messed up big time in there. If Halladay, Garza and Carpenter can be top 10 among NL ERA qualifiers in SLG against, yet near the bottom the list for BABIP, then I can guarantee you there's no meaningful correlation between the two. It egregiously fails an eyeball test. The BABIP and SLG against lists are wholly different animals.

Agreed. There's also no way that BA correlates to BABIP that highly, especially not just R but R2.

Tony Cloninger
04-07-2012, 04:34 PM
I always wondered as a kid..... why Jim Palmer never struck out more than 200 in a year despite going close to or over 300 innings per year. He had a very good rising fastball. His control was good but not outstanding. He would walk 2-3 guys a game and sometimes more.

He must have figured he only needed to try for strikeouts when he needed them and let his GG filled D behind him catch the ball.

Palmer had his Davey Johnson, Belanger, Robinson, Bobby Grich and Paul Blair behind him. Cueto has Votto, BP, Rolen, Stubbs, Bruce and we will see how Cozart is. I would rather get outs and get more innings with less pitches from the starters. Maddux must have been very lucky his whole career.

Vottomatic
04-07-2012, 04:38 PM
I'm bored.

Tony Cloninger
04-07-2012, 04:41 PM
I'm bored.

Was my post the tipping point?

RedEye
04-07-2012, 06:40 PM
I'm bored.

So don't read the thread? I actually think this is a really interesting conversation -- just the type I was hoping would happen when I posted the question. Thanks to all involved!

Captain Hook
04-07-2012, 07:32 PM
So don't read the thread? I actually think this is a really interesting conversation -- just the type I was hoping would happen when I posted the question. Thanks to all involved!

I agree.

Personally I think Cueto is an ace.The one piece of evidence that has been completely ignored is ERA.I know it's not a real popilar stat around here and I understand why but at some point, in todays game a 2.31 ERA can't be ignored.Cueto prevents runs and that's the name of the game when your're a pitcher.

membengal
04-07-2012, 07:35 PM
Josh Beckett gave up 5 HRs today. Ace?

Captain Hook
04-07-2012, 07:50 PM
Josh Beckett gave up 5 HRs today. Ace?

He was terrible in 2010 but after an impressive 2011 I'd still say with out a doubt, yes..Another year like 2010 and I'd have to reconsider.

jojo
04-07-2012, 09:21 PM
I don't feel like crunching the numbers, but I can guarantee you've messed up big time in there. If Halladay, Garza and Carpenter can be top 10 among NL ERA qualifiers in SLG against, yet near the bottom the list for BABIP, then I can guarantee you there's no meaningful correlation between the two. It egregiously fails an eyeball test. The BABIP and SLG against lists are wholly different animals.

After checking the analysis, I did make a copy error for the r2 data table. To avoid any confusion, below are the correct data in their entirety again:

Here's data for pitchers between 2008-2011 tabulated as individual pitcher seasons (i.e. CC Sabathia will show up as 4 entries for example):


Mean Var STDev
BA .269 .0053 .073
BABIP .305 .0063 .079
SLG .429 .0209 .145


"Very small variance" can be defined differently by different individuals, but these variables are pretty tight IMHO. For reference here's the data for age of this population (which isn't so "tight"): Mean= 28.2; variance= 18.4; STDev= 4.3.

So the above (original) definition of the population was correct. Here are the correct correlations:



r2
BA/BABIP .87
BA/SLG .83
BABIP/SLG .57


The point still stands- BABIP predicts SLG well.

RedEye
04-08-2012, 12:26 AM
I agree.

Personally I think Cueto is an ace.The one piece of evidence that has been completely ignored is ERA.I know it's not a real popilar stat around here and I understand why but at some point, in todays game a 2.31 ERA can't be ignored.Cueto prevents runs and that's the name of the game when your're a pitcher.

I don't think ERA is being ignored -- rather, it is being used as a point of departure for the discussion. One of the reasons I even posted the question in the first place is that Cueto's ERA last year bespeaks ace-like dominance. The problem, as we've seen in quite some depth at this point, is that traditional ERA does not do a good job at isolating the things that the pitcher himself can control in a baseball game -- so you've got a lot of numerical noise built in to that statistic (the defense behind him, random luck, etc.) that the other "new" stats are trying to get around.

fearofpopvol1
04-08-2012, 12:31 AM
I don't think ERA is being ignored -- rather, it is being used as a point of departure for the discussion. One of the reasons I even posted the question in the first place is that Cueto's ERA last year bespeaks ace-like dominance. The problem, as we've seen in quite some depth at this point, is that traditional ERA does not do a good job at isolating the things that the pitcher himself can control in a baseball game -- so you've got a lot of numerical noise built in to that statistic (the defense behind him, random luck, etc.) that the other "new" stats are trying to get around.

You don't think Rheal Cormier's ERA in 2006 with the Phillies (before he was traded to the Reds) was reflective of his true skill set?

Captain Hook
04-08-2012, 03:42 AM
You don't think Rheal Cormier's ERA in 2006 with the Phillies (before he was traded to the Reds) was reflective of his true skill set?

What stat would you trust when there's just 34 innings under favorable conditions to go by?

reds44
04-08-2012, 05:17 AM
Forget Cueto's ERA, strikeouts, all of that. You can't call him an ace (yet) for no other reason than this:

Career high for innings pitched: 186.

nate
04-08-2012, 11:50 AM
What stat would you trust when there's just 34 innings under favorable conditions to go by?

To me, it would be stats.

Career peripherals and hit ratios.

If an older pitcher, weight recent seasons more heavily than older seasons.

pahster
04-08-2012, 03:28 PM
After checking the analysis, I did make a copy error for the r2 data table. To avoid any confusion, below are the correct data in their entirety again:

Here's data for pitchers between 2008-2011 tabulated as individual pitcher seasons (i.e. CC Sabathia will show up as 4 entries for example):


Mean Var STDev
BA .269 .0053 .073
BABIP .305 .0063 .079
SLG .429 .0209 .145


"Very small variance" can be defined differently by different individuals, but these variables are pretty tight IMHO. For reference here's the data for age of this population (which isn't so "tight"): Mean= 28.2; variance= 18.4; STDev= 4.3.

So the above (original) definition of the population was correct. Here are the correct correlations:



r2
BA/BABIP .87
BA/SLG .83
BABIP/SLG .57


The point still stands- BABIP predicts SLG well.

You're not taking into account the hierarchical nature of your data. You've got pitchers seeded into years, leagues, and teams. The best way to account for this variance is to estimate a multilevel model with random intercepts for for these three things (though including a dummy in your model for the league a pitcher played in would be functionally equivalent to a league random intercept). Your model is also probably underspecified, though I'm not sure off the top of my head what else I'd include. Maybe defensive efficacy.

RedEye
04-08-2012, 04:59 PM
You don't think Rheal Cormier's ERA in 2006 with the Phillies (before he was traded to the Reds) was reflective of his true skill set?

Uh... no.

fearofpopvol1
04-08-2012, 05:00 PM
Uh... no.

It was just a joke...relax.

RedEye
04-08-2012, 05:46 PM
It was just a joke...relax.

Figured as much. Tough to read sarcasm without emoticons. :lol:

M2
04-08-2012, 10:17 PM
After checking the analysis, I did make a copy error for the r2 data table. To avoid any confusion, below are the correct data in their entirety again:

Here's data for pitchers between 2008-2011 tabulated as individual pitcher seasons (i.e. CC Sabathia will show up as 4 entries for example):


Mean Var STDev
BA .269 .0053 .073
BABIP .305 .0063 .079
SLG .429 .0209 .145


"Very small variance" can be defined differently by different individuals, but these variables are pretty tight IMHO. For reference here's the data for age of this population (which isn't so "tight"): Mean= 28.2; variance= 18.4; STDev= 4.3.

So the above (original) definition of the population was correct. Here are the correct correlations:



r2
BA/BABIP .87
BA/SLG .83
BABIP/SLG .57


The point still stands- BABIP predicts SLG well.


.57 predicts nothing well. At best, that's poor correlation. And I suspect with a better arranged sample that number would go down. For instance, are you using a single comparison point for each year in your sample or are you breaking it down by league and year?

On a theoretical note, I don't see why BABIP would have a lot of effect on SLG. Slap singles hitters post low SLGs and the major variable in BABIP is singles. HRs, which have by far the biggest effect on SLG variance, aren't even in BABIP. Really, the only thing that's going to wrench opponent SLG in one direction or the other in any significant way are big swings in FB BABIP (and by big I'm talking +/- .050).

jojo
04-08-2012, 11:24 PM
.57 predicts nothing well. At best, that's poor correlation. And I suspect with a better arranged sample that number would go down. For instance, are you crunching the whole four-year sample in a single gulp or are you breaking it down by league and year? If you're doing the former, then you're missing the BABIP swings necessary to prove your theory right.

On a theoretical note, I don't see why BABIP would have a lot of effect on SLG. Slap singles hitters post low SLGs and the major variable in BABIP is singles. HRs, which have by far the biggest effect on SLG variance, aren't even in BABIP. Really, the only thing that's going to wrench opponent SLG in one direction or the other in any significant way are big swings in FB BABIP (and by big I'm talking +/- .050).

Actually, it's a correlation strong enough to cure cancer and controlling for usage, league, park etc would likely tighten rather than weaken the correlation. Add HR and Ks back in and it's BA/SLG.

OUReds
04-09-2012, 12:53 AM
Actually, it's a correlation strong enough to cure cancer.

Ok, this is not the first time you've made this claim, you gotta give me a source here. PM it to me if you like, since I doubt it is relevant to the conversation here. Not being snarky, genuinely interested.

Agreed with M2, a .57 coefficient of correlation in this context is... not strong.

Brutus
04-09-2012, 01:11 AM
.57 correlation is only 32% of the variance.

That's not all that strong. It shows a relationship but it sure as heck doesn't cure cancer.

M2
04-09-2012, 01:53 AM
Actually, it's a correlation strong enough to cure cancer and controlling for usage, league, park etc would likely tighten rather than weaken the correlation. Add HR and Ks back in and it's BA/SLG.

Well, this is baseball and .57 is so weak as to be not worth mentioning. That's well below the correlation between BA and runs scored (.73 range). I assume you're not proposing BA predicts runs scored well.

dougdirt
04-09-2012, 02:55 AM
Well, this is baseball and .57 is so weak as to be not worth mentioning. That's well below the correlation between BA and runs scored (.73 range). I assume you're not proposing BA predicts runs scored well.

BA does predict runs scored fairly well. We just have other stats that predict it much better.

jojo
04-09-2012, 09:25 AM
Well, this is baseball and .57 is so weak as to be not worth mentioning. That's well below the correlation between BA and runs scored (.73 range). I assume you're not proposing BA predicts runs scored well.

BA does predict runs well. We ignore the link now because we have better estimators.

We also know exactly why BABIP doesn't correlate with SLG as well as BA does. For the purposes of this discussion, that's an important point.

RedEye
05-10-2012, 07:13 PM
As he keeps pitching dominant baseball with relatively low K numbers, I keep thinking more and more that the "real" Johnny Cueto might actually be standing up right now. And he's looking decidedly ace-ish.

mdccclxix
05-10-2012, 07:19 PM
Is it really all because of that secret turnaround thing he does? Seems to coincide with his acehood.

RedEye
05-10-2012, 07:23 PM
Is it really all because of that secret turnaround thing he does? Seems to coincide with his acehood.

I've been thinking the same thing. Seems like it adds a lot of deception to his delivery -- maybe hides his delivery for just a split second longer, or messes with the hitter's timing, or likely both. Anyway, whatever it is, it sure is working!

That's a Bryan Price addition, yes?

wheels
05-10-2012, 08:20 PM
There is more than one way to skin a cat, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable with Cueto's way of doing it.

At some point, even the most Borg(ish) of us is going to have to recognize it. The kid might be onto something.

Joseph
05-10-2012, 08:30 PM
I don't know if he's an ace [seems like one to me] but I'd like 5 of him in my rotation.

jojo
05-10-2012, 08:43 PM
It's pretty reasonable to assume he won't continue to have a HR/FB of 4.4%, a LOB% of 91.5% and a babip of .254. These things will all push his ERA to human levels even if he continues to perform exactly the same concerning things he can control. It would be awesome if he can maintain his current walk rate though. That will be something meaningful to watch.

traderumor
05-10-2012, 09:22 PM
It's pretty reasonable to assume he won't continue to have a HR/FB of 4.4%, a LOB% of 91.5% and a babip of .254. These things will all push his ERA to human levels even if he continues to perform exactly the same concerning things he can control. It would be awesome if he can maintain his current walk rate though. That will be something meaningful to watch.Yea, I'm ok with knowing that Cueto won't continue to reach Gibson '68 levels. But........I heard all offseason that Cueto was reaping the benefits of randomness and be ready for a 3.50 ERA this year. Yet here we are, he's still dominating. Staying tuned.

wheels
05-10-2012, 09:28 PM
Yea, I'm ok with knowing that Cueto won't continue to reach Gibson '68 levels. But........I heard all offseason that Cueto was reaping the benefits of randomness and be ready for a 3.50 ERA this year. Yet here we are, he's still dominating. Staying tuned.

More often than not, someone smarter than me comes along and says it better than I did.

More often than not it's you.

jojo
05-10-2012, 09:53 PM
Yea, I'm ok with knowing that Cueto won't continue to reach Gibson '68 levels. But........I heard all offseason that Cueto was reaping the benefits of randomness and be ready for a 3.50 ERA this year. Yet here we are, he's still dominating. Staying tuned.

I would think its a certainty that he'll finish with an era below 3.5. If he posts an era of 3.5 for his next 150 IP, he'd have an era over 200 innings of about 2.90. So he'd have to have a finish to the season that would be worse than even his greatest skeptics would find predictable to end up with an era of 3.5 or worse (like an era of 4.50 over 150 IP and thats only happening if he's hurt). He's not really dominating though thru his first 50 innings unless you focus on ERA. For instance, he allows more contact than league average. Again, no one is saying he sucks and sabermetrics isn't arguing he's a backend arm. But it's not unreasonable at all to expect him to have An era of 3.50ish over his next 150 innings.

And you know what? That would be a great thing worthy of praise.

Caveat Emperor
05-10-2012, 10:31 PM
But, let's be real -- when you really boil down the advanced metrics, the only way to be a praiseworthy arm is to strike lots of people out and limit walks.

jojo
05-10-2012, 10:34 PM
But, let's be real -- when you really boil down the advanced metrics, the only way to be a praiseworthy arm is to strike lots of people out and limit walks.

The ideal pitcher is someone with outstanding make 'em miss ability, exceptional control and extreme groundball tendencies.... that's a scout's definition BTW.

traderumor
05-10-2012, 10:55 PM
I would think its a certainty that he'll finish with an era below 3.5. If he posts an era of 3.5 for his next 150 IP, he'd have an era over 200 innings of about 2.90. So he'd have to have a finish to the season that would be worse than even his greatest skeptics would find predictable to end up with an era of 3.5 or worse (like an era of 4.50 over 150 IP and thats only happening if he's hurt). He's not really dominating though thru his first 50 innings unless you focus on ERA. For instance, he allows more contact than league average. Again, no one is saying he sucks and sabermetrics isn't arguing he's a backend arm. But it's not unreasonable at all to expect him to have An era of 3.50ish over his next 150 innings.

And you know what? That would be a great thing worthy of praise.But why keep on beating the drum that "Cueto really isn't THAT good" by reminding us that "well he can't sustain X, he can't sustain Y..."? I don't think anyone is deceived into thinking any pitcher is sustaining barely a run per 9, whatever the reasons are that he won't. But he's starting to look like he can sustain being a top 10-15 in the league starter. Trying to explain away the success as unsustainable is starting to ring hollow.

RedsManRick
05-10-2012, 10:58 PM
But, let's be real -- when you really boil down the advanced metrics, the only way to be a praiseworthy arm is to strike lots of people out and limit walks.

But it's not like sabermetrics says stuff based of personal opinion, rooting interests or aesthetics. It does so because it's what the numbers actually say.

When you really look at the pitchers who sustain very low ERAs over multiple years, the only way to do it is to strike lots of people out and limit walks -- or do something very extreme regarding inducing weak contact. So far, Cueto's gone the weak contact route, but unlike Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and RA Dickey, it's not exactly clear what he's doing that produces his low BABIP.

Let's look at the qualified pitchers over the last 3 years with the lowest ERA. I was going to take the top 20, but a certain Red was #21, so I included him here.



Rank Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% HR/FB ERA FIP ERA-FIP
1 Roy Halladay 772 8.0 1.3 0.66 .296 51% 8.6% 2.57 2.75 -0.18
2 Clayton Kershaw 652 9.4 3.2 0.55 .267 42% 6.1% 2.64 2.89 -0.25
3 Felix Hernandez 774 8.4 2.6 0.62 .280 52% 8.2% 2.67 3.05 -0.38
4 Adam Wainwright 497 8.3 2.3 0.71 .288 51% 9.3% 2.73 3.08 -0.35
5 Josh Johnson 491 8.5 2.6 0.44 .297 49% 5.6% 2.89 2.75 0.14
6 Cliff Lee 705 8.0 1.4 0.68 .296 44% 7.3% 2.90 2.76 0.14
7 Jered Weaver 721 8.1 2.3 0.89 .264 33% 7.2% 2.93 3.33 -0.40
8 Matt Cain 708 7.2 2.6 0.74 .254 39% 6.7% 2.94 3.45 -0.51
9 Chris Carpenter 665 7.0 2.1 0.60 .288 51% 7.4% 3.02 3.20 -0.18
10 Johan Santana 396 7.4 2.6 0.84 .276 35% 6.9% 3.02 3.55 -0.53
11 Justin Verlande 766 9.2 2.4 0.70 .278 39% 7.1% 3.03 2.88 0.15
12 Tim Lincecum 691 9.8 3.2 0.59 .295 48% 7.8% 3.03 2.89 0.14
13 Madison Bumgard 360 7.6 2.1 0.70 .309 47% 7.5% 3.05 3.14 -0.09
14 C.J. Wilson 468 8.0 3.5 0.56 .273 49% 6.9% 3.09 3.38 -0.29
15 Tim Hudson 504 6.1 2.6 0.70 .269 61% 11.2% 3.12 3.74 -0.62
16 R.A. Dickey 424 5.8 2.4 0.83 .274 53% 9.6% 3.18 3.84 -0.66
17 Jaime Garcia 396 7.0 2.9 0.57 .309 55% 7.6% 3.22 3.29 -0.07
18 CC Sabathia 748 8.0 2.5 0.72 .291 47% 8.3% 3.24 3.26 -0.02
19 Wandy Rodriguez 638 8.0 3.0 0.92 .293 46% 10.3% 3.27 3.70 -0.43
20 Cole Hamels 655 8.5 2.1 0.97 .288 46% 10.7% 3.29 3.38 -0.09
21 Johnny Cueto 561 6.5 2.8 0.85 .276 45% 8.6% 3.29 3.97 -0.68

Average 1-5 637 8.5 2.4 0.60 0.286 49% 7.6% 2.70 2.90 -0.20
Average 1-10 638 8.0 2.3 0.67 0.281 45% 7.3% 2.83 3.08 -0.25
Average 1-20 602 7.9 2.5 0.70 0.284 47% 8.0% 2.99 3.22 -0.22

Can you be a really good pitcher without striking a lot of guys out? Yes. Can you be a really good pitcher while walking guys? Yes. Can you be among the very best without doing both very well -- well, it depends on where you want to draw that line. And if you even want to be in the conversation, you better do something extreme with batted balls.

Can you call Cueto an ace? Sure. He's pretty clearly been one of the 30 best pitchers in baseball the last few years. Just make sure you're prepared to call Tim Hudson, Wandy Rodriguez and Jaime Garcia aces as well. And realize that Cueto has the biggest difference between FIP and ERA on this list. If he's going to sustain an ERA lower than the 3.29 of his last 3 years, he's either going to become even more of a FIP outlier or he's going to improve his peripherals because he's getting as much help from his batted balls and defense as he's going to get just to sustain his current ERA average.

jojo
05-10-2012, 11:32 PM
But why keep on beating the drum that "Cueto really isn't THAT good" by reminding us that "well he can't sustain X, he can't sustain Y..."? I don't think anyone is deceived into thinking any pitcher is sustaining barely a run per 9, whatever the reasons are that he won't. But he's starting to look like he can sustain being a top 10-15 in the league starter. Trying to explain away the success as unsustainable is starting to ring hollow.

Have you read the thread title? It's an open question that invites discussion. I'm not sure why someone might suggest talking about Cueto's peripherals and his randomness metrics are off limits.

Cueto isn't "THAT good" and you seemingly agree. I'm not sure why you're suggesting the analysis was/is heavy handed. But I'm sorry-it is an appropriate part of the discussion and it's been offered respectfully.

Regardless Cueto is having a great season. I'm not sure why that isn't enough?

mdccclxix
05-11-2012, 08:07 AM
Is Cueto a scouting ace? No. Is Cueto the Reds ace, as in #1 starter? Yes.

Cueto has the stuff to be a scout's ace, Cy Young type, and we may yet see it, he's only 26. He's not that far off from Santana's or Carpenter's numbers.

membengal
05-11-2012, 08:58 AM
But, let's be real -- when you really boil down the advanced metrics, the only way to be a praiseworthy arm is to strike lots of people out and limit walks.

High five.

membengal
05-11-2012, 08:59 AM
But why keep on beating the drum that "Cueto really isn't THAT good" by reminding us that "well he can't sustain X, he can't sustain Y..."? I don't think anyone is deceived into thinking any pitcher is sustaining barely a run per 9, whatever the reasons are that he won't. But he's starting to look like he can sustain being a top 10-15 in the league starter. Trying to explain away the success as unsustainable is starting to ring hollow.

High five part II!

dougdirt
05-11-2012, 09:06 AM
But, let's be real -- when you really boil down the advanced metrics, the only way to be a praiseworthy arm is to strike lots of people out and limit walks.

I don't know about that. I think a solid strikeout rate, have a very low walk rate and get good groundball rates/keep the ball in the yard works pretty well too. Cueto is a guy who can certainly fall into that group. His walk rates haven't quite been there in the past and his strikeout rate has been a tad lower than you would like.

757690
05-11-2012, 10:58 AM
But it's not like sabermetrics says stuff based of personal opinion, rooting interests or aesthetics. It does so because it's what the numbers actually say.

When you really look at the pitchers who sustain very low ERAs over multiple years, the only way to do it is to strike lots of people out and limit walks -- or do something very extreme regarding inducing weak contact. So far, Cueto's gone the weak contact route, but unlike Matt Cain, Tim Hudson and RA Dickey, it's not exactly clear what he's doing that produces his low BABIP.

Let's look at the qualified pitchers over the last 3 years with the lowest ERA. I was going to take the top 20, but a certain Red was #21, so I included him here.



Rank Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% HR/FB ERA FIP ERA-FIP
1 Roy Halladay 772 8.0 1.3 0.66 .296 51% 8.6% 2.57 2.75 -0.18
2 Clayton Kershaw 652 9.4 3.2 0.55 .267 42% 6.1% 2.64 2.89 -0.25
3 Felix Hernandez 774 8.4 2.6 0.62 .280 52% 8.2% 2.67 3.05 -0.38
4 Adam Wainwright 497 8.3 2.3 0.71 .288 51% 9.3% 2.73 3.08 -0.35
5 Josh Johnson 491 8.5 2.6 0.44 .297 49% 5.6% 2.89 2.75 0.14
6 Cliff Lee 705 8.0 1.4 0.68 .296 44% 7.3% 2.90 2.76 0.14
7 Jered Weaver 721 8.1 2.3 0.89 .264 33% 7.2% 2.93 3.33 -0.40
8 Matt Cain 708 7.2 2.6 0.74 .254 39% 6.7% 2.94 3.45 -0.51
9 Chris Carpenter 665 7.0 2.1 0.60 .288 51% 7.4% 3.02 3.20 -0.18
10 Johan Santana 396 7.4 2.6 0.84 .276 35% 6.9% 3.02 3.55 -0.53
11 Justin Verlande 766 9.2 2.4 0.70 .278 39% 7.1% 3.03 2.88 0.15
12 Tim Lincecum 691 9.8 3.2 0.59 .295 48% 7.8% 3.03 2.89 0.14
13 Madison Bumgard 360 7.6 2.1 0.70 .309 47% 7.5% 3.05 3.14 -0.09
14 C.J. Wilson 468 8.0 3.5 0.56 .273 49% 6.9% 3.09 3.38 -0.29
15 Tim Hudson 504 6.1 2.6 0.70 .269 61% 11.2% 3.12 3.74 -0.62
16 R.A. Dickey 424 5.8 2.4 0.83 .274 53% 9.6% 3.18 3.84 -0.66
17 Jaime Garcia 396 7.0 2.9 0.57 .309 55% 7.6% 3.22 3.29 -0.07
18 CC Sabathia 748 8.0 2.5 0.72 .291 47% 8.3% 3.24 3.26 -0.02
19 Wandy Rodriguez 638 8.0 3.0 0.92 .293 46% 10.3% 3.27 3.70 -0.43
20 Cole Hamels 655 8.5 2.1 0.97 .288 46% 10.7% 3.29 3.38 -0.09
21 Johnny Cueto 561 6.5 2.8 0.85 .276 45% 8.6% 3.29 3.97 -0.68

Average 1-5 637 8.5 2.4 0.60 0.286 49% 7.6% 2.70 2.90 -0.20
Average 1-10 638 8.0 2.3 0.67 0.281 45% 7.3% 2.83 3.08 -0.25
Average 1-20 602 7.9 2.5 0.70 0.284 47% 8.0% 2.99 3.22 -0.22

Can you be a really good pitcher without striking a lot of guys out? Yes. Can you be a really good pitcher while walking guys? Yes. Can you be among the very best without doing both very well -- well, it depends on where you want to draw that line. And if you even want to be in the conversation, you better do something extreme with batted balls.

Can you call Cueto an ace? Sure. He's pretty clearly been one of the 30 best pitchers in baseball the last few years. Just make sure you're prepared to call Tim Hudson, Wandy Rodriguez and Jaime Garcia aces as well. And realize that Cueto has the biggest difference between FIP and ERA on this list. If he's going to sustain an ERA lower than the 3.29 of his last 3 years, he's either going to become even more of a FIP outlier or he's going to improve his peripherals because he's getting as much help from his batted balls and defense as he's going to get just to sustain his current ERA average.

Cueto made a drastic change to his windup, pitch selection and overall pitching philosophy last year. Adding in what he did three years ago muddies the water. Also, ERA and runs scored has drastically decreased league wide since 2009, also muddying the water.

The thing is that over the last 200 innings, the peripherals have informed us that Cueto can't keep this up, and yet he still has. That clearly isn't long enough to draw the conclusion that he will continue with these results, but it's starting to look more and more likely that he can. It is starting to seem like Cueto has developed a new approach to pitching the defies what we thought we knew about the certainty of the impact of peripherals on pitching performance. Maybe the odds of the peripherals will catch up to him eventually, we'll see.

traderumor
05-11-2012, 11:45 AM
Have you read the thread title? It's an open question that invites discussion. I'm not sure why someone might suggest talking about Cueto's peripherals and his randomness metrics are off limits.

Cueto isn't "THAT good" and you seemingly agree. I'm not sure why you're suggesting the analysis was/is heavy handed. But I'm sorry-it is an appropriate part of the discussion and it's been offered respectfully.

Regardless Cueto is having a great season. I'm not sure why that isn't enough?Nothing is off-limits. I simply consider you to be making a point that no one is disputing regarding his 2012 level of success being sustainable, also known as a strawman argument. I mean, you're right, but so what? No one is really disputing the current level of success and its sustainability. But with each outstanding start, these "reminders" about his peripherals predicting some sort of correction have me saying "I'm still waiting."

RedsManRick
05-11-2012, 12:24 PM
Cueto made a drastic change to his windup, pitch selection and overall pitching philosophy last year. Adding in what he did three years ago muddies the water. Also, ERA and runs scored has drastically decreased league wide since 2009, also muddying the water.

The thing is that over the last 200 innings, the peripherals have informed us that Cueto can't keep this up, and yet he still has. That clearly isn't long enough to draw the conclusion that he will continue with these results, but it's starting to look more and more likely that he can. It is starting to seem like Cueto has developed a new approach to pitching the defies what we thought we knew about the certainty of the impact of peripherals on pitching performance. Maybe the odds of the peripherals will catch up to him eventually, we'll see.

And that's just 200 innings. It's a lot of innings, but it's also not enough to take him remotely out of the realm of being the beneficiary of a lot of good luck.

Every time a team has some pitcher who does this the fans say "No wait, our guy is special. He's broken the mold. Just you wait and see. Our guy has figure out the secret sauce that has eluded all of the great pitchers of the last 100 years." So forgive me for being skeptical.

From 2009 to today, just 1 pitcher has sustained a HR/FB under 6% and just 6 under 7%. Last year and this, Cueto is at 5.8% and 4.4%. Do we believe Cueto has HR prevention ability unparalleled in baseball?

From 2009 to today, only 1 pitcher with a GB:FB over 1.10 has a BABIP under .270 (Tim Hudson, with a GB:FB of 2.67). Just two pitchers over that time have a BABIP under .260 and they are two of the most flyball heavy pitchers in baseball (Lilly and Cain). We know for a fact that ground balls are actually more likely to become hits than flyballs, by a significant margin. So being a groundball genius doesn't suggest an abnormally low BABIP. (Brandon Webb had a career BABIP of .286). Cueto put up a. 249 BABIP in 2011 and .253 this year. Do we believe Cueto has a hit prevention ability unparalleled in baseball?

Is it possible that Johnny Cueto has figured out something completely different? I suppose anything is possible. Really, other than his ERA, where is it showing up? I don't mean this to be flip. How is what he's doing on the mound translating in to so few runs and how is that different than what other pitchers have done? How is he doing it?

Maybe he's figure out how to sustain a BABIP of .250. Maybe he's figured out how to allow just a 5% HR/FB. Maybe he's figured out how to strand 90% of his baserunners. But it's very, very unlikely he's figure out something complete new. In my estimation, what's more likely, as you've pointed out, is that he's turned himself in to the type of pitcher who has maximized his ability to affect balls in play, like Tim Hudson or Matt Cain. And we know from a fair amount of experience that, at the edges, pitchers can sustain ERAs up to half a run lower than we would otherwise expect from their peripherals.

With his new windup, I'm willing accept that maybe he's channeling Luis Tiant and his career .261 BABIP. Add in a world class defense that plays to his strengths AND a healthy dose of luck and voila. I would not at all be surprised to see Cueto sustain an ERA around 3.00, especially if he keeps up this K:BB ratio along with very good GB rates (K:BB ratio is far more important than either rate independently).

Don't get me wrong, I think Cueto is a very good pitcher who has clearly changed his approach and gotten good results. I think he's turned himself in to a particular kind of pitcher who can sustain an ERA lower than his FIP. But it's a type of pitcher we're familiar with. And we know the limits of what's possible to sustain. And his 2011 and 2012 thus far are clearly way beyond that. I'll accept the small possibility Cueto is now among the best ever at doing things outside of strikeouts and walks that lead to fewer runs. I just don't think it's remotely reasonable to assert it's likely.

Regarding the "ace" label, if Tim Hudson, RA Dickey and Matt Cain fit your definition of "ace", we should add Cueto to the list. I won't begrudge anybody who wants to put him in that category. But personally, I separate that group from the likes of Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Felix Herndandez and Jered Weaver.

Caveat Emperor
05-11-2012, 12:47 PM
Regarding the "ace" label, if Tim Hudson, RA Dickey and Matt Cain fit your definition of "ace", we should add Cueto to the list. I won't begrudge anybody who wants to put him in that category. But personally, I separate that group from the likes of Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Felix Herndandez and Jered Weaver.

Again, translation: He doesn't strike out enough batters to qualify for the label.

You add 2 more Ks per game to Cueto's statline, and suddenly the entire narrative surrounding him changes.

I understand that we're talking about skills and how skills manifest themselves in game, but I have a bit of a tough time wrapping my head around the idea that a pitcher who retires, roughly, 21 batters per start is somehow knocked by the fact that he allows 2 more of those hitters to put a ball in play per game than the competition that he supposedly doesn't measure up to.

jojo
05-11-2012, 01:13 PM
Nothing is off-limits. I simply consider you to be making a point that no one is disputing regarding his 2012 level of success being sustainable, also known as a strawman argument. I mean, you're right, but so what? No one is really disputing the current level of success and its sustainability. But with each outstanding start, these "reminders" about his peripherals predicting some sort of correction have me saying "I'm still waiting."

First, it's not a straw man to argue that Cueto's peripherals suggest his ERAof last year and this young season is not sustainable and it's likely to regress to the mid threes given enough time. It's not a straw man by virtue of the definition of straw man.

Second, clearly people are entertaining the possibility that Cueto's true skill outperforms his peripherals. In fact even you argued that suggesting otherwise rings hollow and you're still waiting. You can't have it both ways.

Actually, I'm not really sure what your angst in the last several posts is about truthfully.

jojo
05-11-2012, 01:22 PM
Again, translation: He doesn't strike out enough batters to qualify for the label.

You add 2 more Ks per game to Cueto's statline, and suddenly the entire narrative surrounding him changes.

I understand that we're talking about skills and how skills manifest themselves in game, but I have a bit of a tough time wrapping my head around the idea that a pitcher who retires, roughly, 21 batters per start is somehow knocked by the fact that he allows 2 more of those hitters to put a ball in play per game than the competition that he supposedly doesn't measure up to.

Who is knocking Cueto? The question though is he an ace? IMHO, it's a bit of a whimsical debate to begin with because everyone can define ace differently but Cueto wouldn't be my first choice to pitch in game seven of the universe series against the Martians. There really isn't even a right answer on this one. But for that one "go to guy" a reasonable case could be made that Cueto might not even be a top ten pick from NL arms.

Cueto is an awesome pitcher to have and as I said earlier in this thread, it's impossible to spin his story as anything other than an unmitigated success story for the Reds. If the best you have is Cueto to go to war with, you're in fine shape. There's nothing offensive about someone suggesting they might chose a different arm if given the hypothetical option.

Benihana
05-11-2012, 01:41 PM
I don't know if he's an ace [seems like one to me] but I'd like 5 of him in my rotation.

This.

GoReds
05-11-2012, 01:44 PM
Do I think Halladay and Hernandez are better pitchers right now? Sure.

Would I trade Cueto for either of them? Not a chance. I really can't imagine any pitcher out there that I would trade Cueto straight up, considering his age, ability and value to the Reds.

dougdirt
05-11-2012, 01:51 PM
Do I think Halladay and Hernandez are better pitchers right now? Sure.

Would I trade Cueto for either of them? Not a chance. I really can't imagine any pitcher out there that I would trade Cueto straight up, considering his age, ability and value to the Reds.

Strasburg?

TheNext44
05-11-2012, 02:01 PM
Strasburg?

I'd add Kershaw, Moore and Price, just off the top of my head.

DGullett35
05-11-2012, 02:03 PM
Strasburg?

That would be a tought one but Strasburg seems to have such a violent delivery. IMHO I think he will land himself on the DL again sometime. Cueto seems to have put his injuries behind him and has really learned how to pitch. Strasburg is still trying to strike everyone out(however as of right now hes doing as good job at doing it). I would really take Cueto as of right now. Ask me again in a couple years and the answer may be different.

GoReds
05-11-2012, 02:05 PM
Strasburg?

My concern with Strasburg is durability. If I didn't think he was more of a candidate for additional arm issues, I'd have to consider that deal.

Then again, Strasburg has yet to throw more than 70 innings in a season and Cueto has been between 156 and 185 innings each year with the Reds.

I think I'd still stick with Cueto.

RedsManRick
05-11-2012, 02:05 PM
Again, translation: He doesn't strike out enough batters to qualify for the label.

You add 2 more Ks per game to Cueto's statline, and suddenly the entire narrative surrounding him changes.

I understand that we're talking about skills and how skills manifest themselves in game, but I have a bit of a tough time wrapping my head around the idea that a pitcher who retires, roughly, 21 batters per start is somehow knocked by the fact that he allows 2 more of those hitters to put a ball in play per game than the competition that he supposedly doesn't measure up to.

You make a perfectly reasonable argument. Let me clarify:

From the traditional scouting perspective, you need those Ks to be an "ace". It's a loaded term used in a very specific way. You need to dominate regardless of your teammates. And you also need a history of going deep in to games and staying healthy -- neither of which can be said of Cueto. There's a reason people aren't clamoring to have Rich Harden or Erik Bedard as their "ace". Most scouts would say there are only about 10 aces in baseball, if that. And Cueto isn't among them.

Part of the reason for that is that for every guy like Tim Hudson or Matt Cain who can put up those peripherals and still sustain a low ERA, there are 20 guys who it for a year or two on the back of some combination of great defense and luck. So to run out and slap the "ace" label on a guy who fits that description triggers an automatic defense mechanism.

It may be wrong -- Cueto may be in that small sub-group of FIP outperformers who is for real. I would (and have) even made that argument. But if you're going to assert it, you should be prepared to show the evidence why he's not just another JA Happ -- and that he's done it for 200 innings isn't sufficient evidence. Otherwise, it simply smacks of uninformed homerism.

My point is that many people (possibly most) who want to call Cueto an ace based on that last 14 months would balk at calling Tim Hudson or Matt Cain an ace. You can use whatever definition of ace you want. If your definition is merely that the guy can sustain one of the 30 best ERAs in baseball, Cueto's an ace. Just apply that definition consistently. We can't have it both ways.

----
I think of a guy like Cueto as the pitching equivalent of Adam Dunn. It's an extreme skill set that doesn't fit the traditional parameters of what excellence look like. But it produces results. However, because of the nature of the approach, it does create a certain limitation. Just like Dunn could never be as sustainabily productive a hitter as Ryan Braun or Albert Pujols, Cueto will never be as sustainably effective a pitcher as Felix Herandez or Clayton Kershaw. Sure, he can nip their heels and even, in a given season, out produce them. But his lack of strikeouts (like Dunn's lack of contact) will keep him from being truly elite - just really, really good. And that shouldn't be considered some sort of insult.

cumberlandreds
05-11-2012, 02:11 PM
In my book Cueto's an ace. He has had enough sustained success to put him that category. Is he as good as Halladay,Hernandez and a handful others? I think he might be. Durability is the only question now. If he can stay healthy for X amount of time then he can certainly be in the upper echelon.

757690
05-11-2012, 02:16 PM
You make a perfectly reasonable argument. From the traditional scouting perspective, you need those Ks to be an "ace". Most scouts would say there are only about 10 aces in baseball, if that. And Cueto isn't among them. Part of the reason for that is that for every guy like Tim Hudson or Matt Cain who can put up those peripherals and still sustain a low ERA, there are 20 guys who it for a year or two on the back of some combination of great defense and luck. So to run out and slap the "ace" label on a guy who fits that description triggers an automatic defense mechanism.

It may be wrong -- Cueto may be in that small sub-group of FIP outperformers who is for real. I would (and have) even made that argument. But if you're going to assert it, you should be prepared to show the evidence why he's not just another JA Happ -- and that he's done it for 200 innings isn't sufficient evidence. Otherwise, it simply smacks of uninformed homerism.

My point is that many people (possibly most) who want to call Cueto an ace based on that last 14 months would balk at calling Tim Hudson or Matt Cain an ace. You can use whatever definition of ace you want. If your definition is merely that the guy can sustain one of the 30 best ERAs in baseball, Cueto's an ace. Just apply that definition consistently. We can't have it both ways.

All very good points.

For the record, I would call Cain an ace, and would call Hudson an ace if he could stay healthy.

But more importanly, right now, I feel the Reds have at least a 50-50 chance of winning a game started by Cueto, no matter who the other starting pitcher is. And that's my ultimate definition of an ace.

GoReds
05-11-2012, 02:34 PM
Cueto was a pretty good pitcher from the time he put on a Reds uniform. What I think is telling of his development is the consistent improvement over time. Every year, he has reduced H/9, BB/9, homeruns allowed while maintaining a decent K rate.

jojo
05-11-2012, 03:00 PM
Cueto was a pretty good pitcher from the time he put on a Reds uniform. What I think is telling of his development is the consistent improvement over time. Every year, he has reduced H/9, BB/9, homeruns allowed while maintaining a decent K rate.

Just for accuracy, his K rate has been about a strikeout per 9 below NL average since 2010. His BB rate was about league average last season while it is little over 1 walk per 9 better than average over his first 50 innings of this year. It will be interesting to see where his walk rate trends going forward.

dougdirt
05-11-2012, 03:03 PM
Cueto was a pretty good pitcher from the time he put on a Reds uniform. What I think is telling of his development is the consistent improvement over time. Every year, he has reduced H/9, BB/9, homeruns allowed while maintaining a decent K rate.

Cueto has gone from a solid strikeout rate to a well below average strikeout rate. Right now he is at 5.8/9 this season. That is best for 4th on the Reds among starters. Of qualified pitchers, that ranks 89th in the Majors.

MikeS21
05-11-2012, 03:25 PM
I guess I think about an ace as a starting pitcher who comes in and has the ability to make major league hitters look absolutely silly. There are some pitchers who have such an intimidating "presence" on the mound that almost every opposing hitter appears as if they have no confidence, they are uncomfortable, or they appear tentative at the plate. A true ace is able to plant a thought into the hitter's psyche: "No what what adjustment I make, this guy is gonna blow me away." And he usually does,

Use Aroldis Chapman, for example (one reason why Chapman needs to go into the rotation YESTERDAY!). When Chapman pitches, the hitters look - for lack of a better word - "defensive." A few pitchers over the years have had that ability: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Greg Maddux (didn't fit the same mold. but he did make hitters look silly). Nowadays, guys like Jared Weaver, Stephen Strausburg, Felix Hernandez, and Chapman, make hitters look silly. Some of those guys Chapman faces look like a deer caught in headlights. They just lunge at the pitch because they know they ain't making contact with it. At some point the vast majority of hitters do not want to face this guy because he makes them look silly. And for the fans, a HUGE part of making hitters look silly is by racking up 10-12 K's while you pitch a complete game shut-out. That's the guy I want pitching for me in the 7th Game of the World Series.

The issue with Cueto is that he is getting people out. But it appears to me that he isn't dominating hitters to the point of making them look silly. Cueto doesn't leave hitters looking tentative or uncomfortable. He gets hitters out, but I don't think he is intimidating anyone. He gets hitters out, but the hitters aren't demoralized by it. It appears as if hitters are walking away from facing Cueto, thinking, "He got me this time, but I know what to do to adjust and I'll get him next time." No deer-caught-in-headlights looks.

Now, some will folks argue that an out is an out, and who cares if you make them look silly? Because when you hit the post-season, that mental image of being made a fool of at the plate by a certain pitcher will stick with batters. I am just not sure Cueto strikes fear in the heart of many hitters the way Chapman, Strasburg, or Weaver might.

There are no stats that keep track of "pitcher made the hitter look silly" that I am aware of. I think that's why some folks keep looking for some kind of a stat to explain Cueto's success because it seems every start he goes six innings and gives up MAYBE one run. That's awesome, but we recognize that Cueto's outings are not quite the same as watching Weaver or Strausburg pitch and make hitters look silly. I hate to say it, but I continually feel like we are waiting for the other shoe to drop with Cueto.

RedEye
05-11-2012, 03:46 PM
I think of a guy like Cueto as the pitching equivalent of Adam Dunn. It's an extreme skill set that doesn't fit the traditional parameters of what excellence look like. But it produces results. However, because of the nature of the approach, it does create a certain limitation. Just like Dunn could never be as sustainabily productive a hitter as Ryan Braun or Albert Pujols, Cueto will never be as sustainably effective a pitcher as Felix Herandez or Clayton Kershaw. Sure, he can nip their heels and even, in a given season, out produce them. But his lack of strikeouts (like Dunn's lack of contact) will keep him from being truly elite - just really, really good. And that shouldn't be considered some sort of insult.

If you are right, I predict there will be many more threads like this one on RZ. ;)

REDREAD
05-11-2012, 03:55 PM
Strasburg?

Nope. I value Cueto's track record and health record more.
Stasburg is a good pitcher, but I see Cueto as more of a sure thing.

Caveman Techie
05-11-2012, 04:07 PM
Interesting tidbit, the avg BABIP for the top 40 pitchers in the NL this year is .250. So is Cueto's .245 BABIP really that far of an outlier?

For the AL it is .256.

Patrick Bateman
05-11-2012, 04:18 PM
Interesting tidbit, the avg BABIP for the top 40 pitchers in the NL this year is .250. So is Cueto's .245 BABIP really that far of an outlier?


Yes. Of course at this point in the year BAPIP and ERA are going to be correlating.

Caveman Techie
05-11-2012, 04:38 PM
I'm confused then, I have always heard BABIP argued as basically luck with a smidge of defense. If that's true then the BABIP should be fairly consistent whether it's the beginning of the season, end of the season, or middle of the season.

RedEye
05-11-2012, 04:48 PM
I'm confused then, I have always heard BABIP argued as basically luck with a smidge of defense. If that's true then the BABIP should be fairly consistent whether it's the beginning of the season, end of the season, or middle of the season.

I think you are right on the first count, more or less. But that's the point he's making. Because BABIP correlates fairly closely with ERA, it takes a larger sample size for the "smidgen" of difference to make itself felt statistically. Can someone tell me if I've got this right?

defender
05-11-2012, 05:35 PM
The idea that baseball numbers are normally distributed and useful for statistical analysis, yet some are better at determining true skill is not sound. What makes the analysis of the numbers valid, is that the way they are distributed is completely irrelevant.

Statistics are more or less useful for two reasons. Ease of understanding and ease of collection. Of the 3 pitching stats W, ERA and FIP, W is the easiest to understand.

Baseball stats are more useful as the unit of collection (a season) is closer to a sufficient sample size. FIP is composed of more events than ERA or W-L. A full season of FIP for a starting pitcher may be closest to sufficient sample size.

If we agree that FIP is the more useful stat, we still have to assume it will only measure true talent accurately 2/3 of the time. Since baseball is a game of skill, we also have to assume that a pitcher being better or worse than his FIP is skill.

When we understand a stat as well as W, we blame the stat when it does not accurately measure a player. In the case of Cueto, he gets the blame for his FIP. I think the correct statistical approach is to assume Cueto has the skill of being better than his FIP would indicate. We can also assume that 1 season + 30 games is not a sufficient sample size to assume his ERA accurately indicates his true talent.


An additional note on ease of understanding: It is not that a formula is too complicated to understand mathematically, but that a formula alters the data in a way that may make it less useful. ERA is a good example. Good/bad defense effects the runs allowed, but only the event called an error effects ERA. ERA combines RA and defense in a biased way.

jojo
05-11-2012, 06:40 PM
The idea that baseball numbers are normally distributed and useful for statistical analysis, yet some are better at determining true skill is not sound. What makes the analysis of the numbers valid, is that the way they are distributed is completely irrelevant.

Statistics are more or less useful for two reasons. Ease of understanding and ease of collection. Of the 3 pitching stats W, ERA and FIP, W is the easiest to understand.

Baseball stats are more useful as the unit of collection (a season) is closer to a sufficient sample size. FIP is composed of more events than ERA or W-L. A full season of FIP for a starting pitcher may be closest to sufficient sample size.

If we agree that FIP is the more useful stat, we still have to assume it will only measure true talent accurately 2/3 of the time. Since baseball is a game of skill, we also have to assume that a pitcher being better or worse than his FIP is skill.

When we understand a stat as well as W, we blame the stat when it does not accurately measure a player. In the case of Cueto, he gets the blame for his FIP. I think the correct statistical approach is to assume Cueto has the skill of being better than his FIP would indicate. We can also assume that 1 season + 30 games is not a sufficient sample size to assume his ERA accurately indicates his true talent.


An additional note on ease of understanding: It is not that a formula is too complicated to understand mathematically, but that a formula alters the data in a way that may make it less useful. ERA is a good example. Good/bad defense effects the runs allowed, but only the event called an error effects ERA. ERA combines RA and defense in a biased way.

Again, I don't agree with a lot here. Maybe I'm just not understanding your point.

For instance, FIP actually contains significantly less "information" than W and ERA That's precisely why it is more useful-it removes the superfluous information that is noise and focuses just upon what a pitcher can control.

I'm not sure where you derive your 2/3 estimate and certainly I don't think it's appropriate to assume that when a player's FIP deviates dramatically from his ERA it's due to skill. Why? Because these types of deviations tend to regress to a "non-deviation" relationship-just as given enough time, extremely low BABIP for pitchers will regress to somewhere in the range of .290-.310, HR/FB% will regress to 10-11%, LOB% will regress to roughly 73%.

jojo
05-11-2012, 06:41 PM
I'm confused then, I have always heard BABIP argued as basically luck with a smidge of defense. If that's true then the BABIP should be fairly consistent whether it's the beginning of the season, end of the season, or middle of the season.

"Luck" is the same thing as randomness. The larger a sample becomes, the smaller the random nature of the data should become.

jojo
05-11-2012, 06:54 PM
Interesting tidbit, the avg BABIP for the top 40 pitchers in the NL this year is .250. So is Cueto's .245 BABIP really that far of an outlier?

For the AL it is .256.

Right now there are at least 30 starting pitchers in the NL alone that have ERAs under 3.00. I don't think we'll see that continue as the season progresses.

Last year there were only 8 qualified starters with an ERA under 3 (only!) and of those only 2 had an ERA that outperformed their FIP by more than a quarter run.

Of the 31 starting pitchers in the NL currently with an ERA under 3, 26 of them have an ERA that is outperforming their FIP by at least .25 runs and many are outperforming by over a run or more. Regression to the mean will tighten these things up as the season gets longer in the tooth.

RedsManRick
05-11-2012, 07:20 PM
Interesting tidbit, the avg BABIP for the top 40 pitchers in the NL this year is .250. So is Cueto's .245 BABIP really that far of an outlier?

For the AL it is .256.

Yes. But it's not his current 2012 .245 BABIP that we're looking at. It's his .250 BABIP since the start of last year. What makes Cueto an outlier is that even looking at a bigger sample of innings, he's still among the lowest BABIP. And among those with a low BABIP, most of them are extreme flyball pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson, Jered Weaver, Matt Cain, Ted Lilly), which he is not. Since the start of 2011, only Matt Cain and Ted Lilly have a lower BABIP than Cueto.

Because the question is not about what produced ERA as of today. It's about which of those guys has the ability to sustain his top 40 ERA in perpetuity. So, knowing that BABIP has a pretty big impact on ERA and knowing that BABIP generally regresses over time*, how do we sort the good from the lucky?

*In 2011, just 9 pitchers had a BABIP under .260. Combine 2010 & 2011 and that drops to 3. From 2009-2011 it was 2. From 2008-2011, it was 0. The more innings you look at, the fewer people that will have ERAs in the neighborhood of what Cueto has put up the last year plus. It's pretty common to have a low BABIP over 6 weeks -- or even over the course of a year. It's pretty rare to sustain that over multiple years.

One way statisticians deal with this by using the "n+1" approach. Look at the ERA leaders of 2010. What's their average BABIP? Now take that same group of 40. What was their average BABIP in 2011. I guarantee you it was higher in 2011. And that's because some of the guys who appeared in that 2010 top 40 were there because they got lucky.

So the question is: What is causing it? It is some combination of Cueto inducing weak contact, the Reds defense and dumb "luck". The first one we credit to him and expect to continue. The second one we credit to his teammates and expect to continue. The third one we credit to no one and don't expect to continue.

It's funny, but when you look for other guys with Cueto's combination of low K rate, low BB rate, low HR rate and low BABIP, the best comp is Kyle Lohse.

mdccclxix
05-11-2012, 07:24 PM
Cueto just recorded the first complete game of his career. Forgive the masses outside Redsland if he isn't an "ace" yet. Aces are the jedi knights of baseball. They glow on the mound.

There are two aces, league wide aces and team aces. Let's not cross definitions. I personally think Cueto is better named a #1 starter, which isn't necessarily an ace by scouting terms. Anyway, it's a linguistic problem that will never be sorted out permanently.

Fans like to fancy their starter an ace, that's what they'll be fancied. Frankly a little homerism is good for the team and is what makes a fan a fan.

mdccclxix
05-11-2012, 07:30 PM
In all, you have to give Cueto so much credit for arriving where he has. He is a super good learner. The context of his development is astounding, really.

Think back on his timeline.

The hype in spring training in 2008. The 10K debut. The presence of Volquez as a K machine. The struggles with mound presence. Struggles with command. Slow progress.

Credit Bryan Price, I'd think. He must have really done something right.

OnBaseMachine
05-11-2012, 07:35 PM
Cueto just recorded the first complete game of his career. Forgive the masses outside Redsland if he isn't an "ace" yet. Aces are the jedi knights of baseball. They glow on the mound.


That's not true. Cueto had a complete game shutout in 2010, three complete games last season (one shutout), and one complete game so far this season.

mdccclxix
05-11-2012, 07:44 PM
That's not true. Cueto had a complete game shutout in 2010, three complete games last season (one shutout), and one complete game so far this season.

Dang, must've misheard the broadcast a few days ago. Thanks. :eek:

cincrazy
05-11-2012, 07:46 PM
Would I feel comfortable running Cueto out there in the playoffs against Halladay, Greinke, Carpenter and the like? Yes. Is he as flat-out dominant as some of those names? No, he's not. But as a fan, I trust him immensely. In my eyes, he's an "ace." In practical, old-school baseball terms? Probably not. He's not a threat to throw a no-hitter every time out like Verlander or Price. But I'll take him every day of the week, and twice on Sunday (Dusty, if you're reading this, just kidding. Don't use him that much).

mth123
05-11-2012, 08:54 PM
This thread has seemed to develop into a modern stats/DIPS theory vs. ERA. I think all stats have their place, but I'll put the modern ones aside for now and say that I don't think Cueto is an "Ace" based on the same traditional ones we've relied on for a long time.

Cueto is a good pitcher that any team would be happy to have, but IMO, a guy isn't an "Ace" until he's put up a couple of seasons of 200+ innings with a 3.25 or so ERA or less. When he gets to the point where you can write those numbers down prior to the season, then he's an "Ace." So far he's not there.

fearofpopvol1
06-23-2012, 07:31 PM
I know people say he's not an "ace," by the traditional definition, but he sure looks like one to me.

Kc61
06-23-2012, 07:54 PM
Hope Cueto keeps this up. He looks like an All Star pitcher to me. Great to see a home grown prospect developed by the system become a top pitcher. Johnny is one right now.

WVRedsFan
06-23-2012, 09:03 PM
He is our ace and stopper. I forget what the TV guys said exactly, but I think he has led a win after a loss three times this year. That's the definition of stopper.

Degenerate39
06-23-2012, 09:06 PM
He is our ace and stopper. I forget what the TV guys said exactly, but I think he has led a win after a loss three times this year. That's the definition of stopper.

I think this was his fourth

traderumor
06-23-2012, 11:05 PM
Cueto's last 3 starts, 23 IP, 2 ER, 24K/2BB, season ERA now down to 2.21.

I'd say he's pitching like a TOR starter, has been since last season, so whether or not he evokes the image of stud, he certainly is performing like one of the best starters in the league.

Johnny Footstool
06-23-2012, 11:08 PM
Cueto's last 3 starts, 23 IP, 2 ER, 24K/2BB, season ERA now down to 2.21.

I'd say he's pitching like a TOR starter, has been since last season, so whether or not he evokes the image of stud, he certainly is performing like one of the best starters in the league.

Now those are ace-level numbers. More than a K/IP = fantastic.

BCubb2003
06-23-2012, 11:23 PM
He is our ace and stopper. I forget what the TV guys said exactly, but I think he has led a win after a loss three times this year. That's the definition of stopper.

The TV guys said the Reds are 7-0 now when Cueto pitches after a loss. Cueto is 5-0 with two no-decisions.

BuckeyeRedleg
06-24-2012, 12:14 AM
He's got everything but K's.

He's an ace. Especially on this staff.

Is he the #1/main guy/hammer/ace/stopper you want in the playoffs (if you want to win it all?).

Ehhhh. Kinda lukewarm on that.

CrackerJack
06-24-2012, 12:37 AM
He's got everything but K's.

He's an ace. Especially on this staff.

Is he the #1/main guy/hammer/ace/stopper you want in the playoffs (if you want to win it all?).

Ehhhh. Kinda lukewarm on that.

He certainly is a better option than Volquez.

A bigger issue may be that no one else is really stepping-up in the rest of the rotation consistently.

fearofpopvol1
06-24-2012, 02:46 PM
He's got everything but K's.

He's an ace. Especially on this staff.

Is he the #1/main guy/hammer/ace/stopper you want in the playoffs (if you want to win it all?).

Ehhhh. Kinda lukewarm on that.

I would absolutely say so. Remember, Cueto pitched the best in 2010 of any of the Reds starters against Philadelphia. Even though he only went 5 innings, he only gave up 1 ER to a high powered Phillies offense. Only 1 BB as well.

dougdirt
06-24-2012, 02:47 PM
The main thing that makes me say no, is that he has never topped 185 innings in a season. Aces throw 200+, consistently. That is what separates them. Cueto isn't there yet.

RedEye
06-24-2012, 11:35 PM
His last few starts have me thinking that he might be adding the K's to his repertoire necessary to ascend to the "elite" level. I agree, though, that he also needs to put up 200 IP to get there.

One thing is for sure -- all labels aside, he's a darn nice pitcher to have on the staff.

RedlegJake
06-26-2012, 01:42 AM
I was about to disagree about 200 innings but then after thinking I do agree. It shows the ability to be efficient enough to go deep in enough games to get to that number. And I think Cueto is finally there. I do believe he would go 7 innings or more in a playoff game, pitching well enough and efficiently enough to last that long. He is the only pitcher on the staff I feel that confidence in. Latos might if he had a game like tonight but then again what Mat are you going to see? Ditto for Homer. Leake has a razor's edge he always walks - if he's off just a tiny bit he'll get blasted. Bronson I have fair confidence in but darn the long ball isgoing to hurt him and I don't really trust him to hold a close game in the playoffs. Cueto is it.

VR
06-26-2012, 01:59 AM
The main thing that makes me say no, is that he has never topped 185 innings in a season. Aces throw 200+, consistently. That is what separates them. Cueto isn't there yet.

He's finally become a pitcher, not a thrower. His early years were made up of games with 8k's, 4 bb's and 105 pitches in 5 innings.

I'm stunned with the turnaround he experienced last year....and it's obvious it wasn't a one year wonder.

I fully expect him to log a solid 200 innings this year, and still be fresh for the playoffs.

Pleasantly. Surprised.

BearcatShane
06-26-2012, 05:59 AM
He's got everything but K's.

He's an ace. Especially on this staff.

Is he the #1/main guy/hammer/ace/stopper you want in the playoffs (if you want to win it all?).

Ehhhh. Kinda lukewarm on that.

If he pitches 8 innings of one run ball he is. I mean, if I had the choice I would take Hernandez or CC or someone of that stature for game one of a playoff game but it comes down to execution. If we get to October and Johnny's on the mound for game one, I like our chances.

buckeyenut
06-26-2012, 07:28 AM
Cueto may not be the best pitcher in the majors, but he is a clear #1 starter and probably one of the top ten pitchers in the majors over the last two years. I would have no qualms throwing him in Game 1 of a playoff series.

RedsManRick
06-26-2012, 09:52 AM
I still wouldn't put the ace label on him, both because of the innings thing and his reliance on his defense. But the longer he keep this HR and general hit suppression up, the more inclined I am to think that this is "real". That said, we shouldn't ignore that Johnny's peripherals have improved this year. His strikeouts are up and his walk rate is down by 1/3, dropping his FIP by 40 points to just above 3.00. His BABIP is back to normal, but he's still suppressing HR and now is benefitting from some nice LOB "luck" -- though there's obviously some overlap there.

I still don't think an ERA south of 2.50 is sustainable, but I'd be quite happy with one in the high 2s or lower 3s. Though he has been one of the most effective SP in the game over the last year (lowest ERA in baseball over the last 2 years I believe), I'd still label him a soft 1, very good 2. If Mat Latos can build on what we saw last night, I'd feel pretty good about the top of the rotation - though I'd still like to see Chapman be given every opportunity to be ready to be our Game 3 SP come October.

fearofpopvol1
06-30-2012, 04:21 AM
The main thing that makes me say no, is that he has never topped 185 innings in a season. Aces throw 200+, consistently. That is what separates them. Cueto isn't there yet.

It's a valid point. The good news is, Cueto is easily on pace to hit 200+ this year. He's already at 107.2, which is actually the 3rd most in the NL and 6th most in baseball.

fearofpopvol1
06-30-2012, 04:27 AM
I still wouldn't put the ace label on him, both because of the innings thing and his reliance on his defense. But the longer he keep this HR and general hit suppression up, the more inclined I am to think that this is "real". That said, we shouldn't ignore that Johnny's peripherals have improved this year. His strikeouts are up and his walk rate is down by 1/3, dropping his FIP by 40 points to just above 3.00. His BABIP is back to normal, but he's still suppressing HR and now is benefitting from some nice LOB "luck" -- though there's obviously some overlap there.

I still don't think an ERA south of 2.50 is sustainable, but I'd be quite happy with one in the high 2s or lower 3s. Though he has been one of the most effective SP in the game over the last year (lowest ERA in baseball over the last 2 years I believe), I'd still label him a soft 1, very good 2. If Mat Latos can build on what we saw last night, I'd feel pretty good about the top of the rotation - though I'd still like to see Chapman be given every opportunity to be ready to be our Game 3 SP come October.

Are you basing that on this year or his career? Currently, Cueto is tied for the 9th highest WAR number of qualifying starting pitchers in all of baseball. He's on pace to potentially be a 5.5 win pitcher by the end of the year. Will he hit that milestone? Or maintain his current pace? Maybe, maybe not. I think there's a pretty good chance that he finishes in the top 20, maybe better. Wouldn't that by definition qualify him as a #1? And if he finishes in the top 10-15, wouldn't that definitely qualify him as a #1?

nate
06-30-2012, 11:58 AM
I found this to be very interesting:

Johnny Cueto:
K/9: 6.60
BB/9: 2.09
HR/9: 0.42

Mike Leake
K/9: 6.09
BB/9: 2.16
HR/9: 1.08

From a peripheral point of view, Mike Leake has some similarities to Cueto.

Phhhl
06-30-2012, 12:14 PM
By all measures he has been the best starting pitcher on this staff for at least the last year and a half. I understand the sabremetrics, but isn't the best starter on any staff traditionally referred to as the "ace"? I am pretty sure if the postseason were to start tomorrow, he would be the guy the Reds would want to give the ball to. I guess I just don't understand the quarrel with media types who recognize this.

Cedric
06-30-2012, 12:20 PM
By all measures he has been the best starting pitcher on this staff for at least the last year and a half. I understand the sabremetrics, but isn't the best starter on any staff traditionally referred to as the "ace"? I am pretty sure if the postseason were to start tomorrow, he would be the guy the Reds would want to give the ball to. I guess I just don't understand the quarrel with media types who recognize this.

I wasn't ever comfortable calling Jimmy Haynes or Paul Wilson an ace.

dougdirt
06-30-2012, 12:36 PM
By all measures he has been the best starting pitcher on this staff for at least the last year and a half. I understand the sabremetrics, but isn't the best starter on any staff traditionally referred to as the "ace"? I am pretty sure if the postseason were to start tomorrow, he would be the guy the Reds would want to give the ball to. I guess I just don't understand the quarrel with media types who recognize this.

In 'scout speak' an ACE is a #1 stopper for a playoff team. And no, not every playoff team has one of those guys. There are about 10-12 of those guys in baseball at any given time. Cueto wouldn't be inside my top 12.

cincrazy
06-30-2012, 01:01 PM
In 'scout speak' an ACE is a #1 stopper for a playoff team. And no, not every playoff team has one of those guys. There are about 10-12 of those guys in baseball at any given time. Cueto wouldn't be inside my top 12.

Just out of curiousity, who would be?

dougdirt
06-30-2012, 01:24 PM
Just out of curiousity, who would be?

In no particular order:
Justin Verlander
Cliff Lee
Clayton Kershaw
Roy Halladay
CC Sabathia
David Price
Felix Hernandez
Zack Greinke
Stephen Strasburg
Cole Hamels
Matt Cain

Those were the guys I came up with without looking deeper into the stats. But I would take all of those guys without blinking over Cueto.

cincrazy
06-30-2012, 02:29 PM
In no particular order:
Justin Verlander
Cliff Lee
Clayton Kershaw
Roy Halladay
CC Sabathia
David Price
Felix Hernandez
Zack Greinke
Stephen Strasburg
Cole Hamels
Matt Cain

Those were the guys I came up with without looking deeper into the stats. But I would take all of those guys without blinking over Cueto.

I more or less agree with you on that list. I'm not sure about taking Lee and Halladay over him at this point. Both are getting older, and Halladay is battling a pretty serious injury. But in general, I agree with you, most people would take that list over Cueto.

edabbs44
06-30-2012, 02:33 PM
Doug, what criteria are you using for that list? This year only? Next few years? When healthy?

dougdirt
06-30-2012, 02:41 PM
Doug, what criteria are you using for that list? This year only? Next few years? When healthy?

Who I think are better pitchers, without a question. Clearly Halladay isn't healthy, so maybe he doesn't go on that list at this point. And I am talking right now.

757690
06-30-2012, 03:47 PM
In no particular order:
Justin Verlander
Cliff Lee
Clayton Kershaw
Roy Halladay
CC Sabathia
David Price
Felix Hernandez
Zack Greinke
Stephen Strasburg
Cole Hamels
Matt Cain

Those were the guys I came up with without looking deeper into the stats. But I would take all of those guys without blinking over Cueto.

The question in my mind isn't who would I take over Cueto. I would take half those guys over the other half, but that doesn't make the other half not Aces.

The question for me is, "would I feel confident sending Cueto up against any of those guys in game one of a playoff series?". And for me, right now, the answer is an easy yes. I think if Cueto was matched up against any of these pitchers, the Reds would have at least a 50-50 shot of winning that game.

RedsfaninMT
06-30-2012, 04:17 PM
Who I think are better pitchers, without a question. Clearly Halladay isn't healthy, so maybe he doesn't go on that list at this point. And I am talking right now.

If you're talking right now, Cliff Lee should not be on that list. No wins, 0-5, with a 4.13 ERA. Peripherals show some bad luck, for sure, but if this is right now, Lee is not an ace.

dougdirt
06-30-2012, 04:29 PM
If you're talking right now, Cliff Lee should not be on that list. No wins, 0-5, with a 4.13 ERA. Peripherals show some bad luck, for sure, but if this is right now, Lee is not an ace.

Put Cueto with the Phillies defense and Lee with the Reds and see what happens. The Phillies defense hasn't been good this year at all. The Reds defense has been outstanding. Cliff Lee is absolutely an ace.

fearofpopvol1
06-30-2012, 04:39 PM
The question in my mind isn't who would I take over Cueto. I would take half those guys over the other half, but that doesn't make the other half not Aces.

The question for me is, "would I feel confident sending Cueto up against any of those guys in game one of a playoff series?". And for me, right now, the answer is an easy yes. I think if Cueto was matched up against any of these pitchers, the Reds would have at least a 50-50 shot of winning that game.

I agree with this. And remember, Sebathia went head to head against Cueto and Cueto got the better of it earlier this year.

If Cueto finishes in the top 10 of WAR this year among starting pitchers with over 200+ IP, I don't see how anyone can say he isn't an ace anymore.

dougdirt
06-30-2012, 04:51 PM
I agree with this. And remember, Sebathia went head to head against Cueto and Cueto got the better of it earlier this year.

If Cueto finishes in the top 10 of WAR this year among starting pitchers with over 200+ IP, I don't see how anyone can say he isn't an ace anymore.
They have different defenses behind them too. The Yankees have Derek Jeter at shortstop. We have Zack Cozart. They have Robinson Cano at 2B. We have Brandon Phillips.

Makes a pretty big difference.

Of course Cueto had to face the much tougher line up too.

But one game doesn't really tell us much. Put Cueto in front of the Yankees defense and his numbers look a whole lot different.

With that said, if Cueto throws 200 IP this year and maintains his performance, he will be there for me. But I imagine you could still talk to a few scouts who would ask for him to do it against next year to prove he can go 200+ more than once.

_Sir_Charles_
06-30-2012, 04:54 PM
They have different defenses behind them too. The Yankees have Derek Jeter at shortstop. We have Zack Cozart. They have Robinson Cano at 2B. We have Brandon Phillips.


I do not watch the Yankees. At all. I avoid them (and the Red Sox) like the plague. But, that being said, I was under the impression that Robinson Cano was a very good defender. Am I off base on that? Like I said, I haven't SEEN him play (other than once against the Reds).

fearofpopvol1
06-30-2012, 05:04 PM
They have different defenses behind them too. The Yankees have Derek Jeter at shortstop. We have Zack Cozart. They have Robinson Cano at 2B. We have Brandon Phillips.

Makes a pretty big difference.

Of course Cueto had to face the much tougher line up too.

But one game doesn't really tell us much. Put Cueto in front of the Yankees defense and his numbers look a whole lot different.

With that said, if Cueto throws 200 IP this year and maintains his performance, he will be there for me. But I imagine you could still talk to a few scouts who would ask for him to do it against next year to prove he can go 200+ more than once.

Understood, but I think 757690's point was in a playoff series, you could make the case that it's 50-50 with Cueto on the mound against other aces. I was just pointing out that Cueto already went up against Sebathia (albeit not in a playoff series) and Cueto got the better of it.

Barring an injury or an awful second half with many early exits, I don't see anyway Cueto doesn't hit the 200 IP mark. He's already at 107.3 with 2 more scheduled starts before the break (unless Baker decides to yank him for that last start).

dougdirt
06-30-2012, 05:15 PM
I do not watch the Yankees. At all. I avoid them (and the Red Sox) like the plague. But, that being said, I was under the impression that Robinson Cano was a very good defender. Am I off base on that? Like I said, I haven't SEEN him play (other than once against the Reds).

I don't watch them much either. Cano has a positive UZR right now, but it is also the first time since 2007 he can say that. Even if he is considered a good defender, he isn't Brandon Phillips.

The overall point was the Reds have an outstanding defense and it makes a big difference when trying to compare pitchers. How would a bunch of these guys look with the Reds defense behind them instead of the one they currently have?

Scrap Irony
06-30-2012, 08:40 PM
I'd absolutely consider Cueto a number one pitcher right now.

Is he one of the top 30 starters in baseball? By almost any metric available.

Is he an ace? Maybe. Maybe not. I'd prefer to look at whether he's better or worse than the starter he faces in the playoffs rather than some generic "ace".

So far this year, he's sixth in the NL in WAR, sixth in wins, 5th in IP, sixth in ERA, 10th in FIP.

All ace level production, IMO. The key is whether he can hit that 200 IP level.

Griffey012
07-01-2012, 03:23 AM
Johnny Cueto is an ace.

Vottomatic
07-08-2012, 08:35 PM
Congrats to Cueto on his 10th win. 10-5, hopefully headed to 20 wins.

dougdirt
07-09-2012, 12:39 PM
Congrats to Cueto on his 10th win. 10-5, hopefully headed to 20 wins.

If we are hoping, why not hope for 27 or so with 17 or so starts left.

medford
07-09-2012, 12:43 PM
If we are hoping, why not hope for 27 or so with 17 or so starts left.

Because hoping for him to go anywhere from 17-0 to 17-2 the rest of the season will do me as much good as hoping I win the power ball. However, going 10 and 7(or less) while still difficult at least feels obtainable and worthy of hoping for.

UKFlounder
07-09-2012, 12:45 PM
I don't know all the stats, but this popped into my head as I read this post - would Cueto now compare to Jose Rijo in the early 1990s? Rijo had great stuff but took a while before having a 200 IP season. Is Cueto comparable, or was Rijo better than I remember?


I'd absolutely consider Cueto a number one pitcher right now.

Is he one of the top 30 starters in baseball? By almost any metric available.

Is he an ace? Maybe. Maybe not. I'd prefer to look at whether he's better or worse than the starter he faces in the playoffs rather than some generic "ace".

So far this year, he's sixth in the NL in WAR, sixth in wins, 5th in IP, sixth in ERA, 10th in FIP.

All ace level production, IMO. The key is whether he can hit that 200 IP level.

The Operator
07-09-2012, 12:51 PM
I don't know all the stats, but this popped into my head as I read this post - would Cueto now compare to Jose Rijo in the early 1990s? Rijo had great stuff but took a while before having a 200 IP season. Is Cueto comparable, or was Rijo better than I remember?Rijo's raw stuff was filthier, but they are a decent comparison.

JC is easily the Reds' best starter since Rijo in my opinion.

dougdirt
07-09-2012, 12:58 PM
I don't know all the stats, but this popped into my head as I read this post - would Cueto now compare to Jose Rijo in the early 1990s? Rijo had great stuff but took a while before having a 200 IP season. Is Cueto comparable, or was Rijo better than I remember?

Jose Rijo had just nasty, nasty stuff. Better than Cuetos. Rijo has legit ACE type stuff. Cueto doesn't, but he is able to get a whole lot out of his really good stuff.

The Operator
07-09-2012, 01:54 PM
Jose Rijo had just nasty, nasty stuff. Better than Cuetos. Rijo has legit ACE type stuff. Cueto doesn't, but he is able to get a whole lot out of his really good stuff.Yep. It kills me to think what could have been with him.

If he hadn't basically destroyed his elbow who knows how great his already good career might have been. Could you imagine the 1999 team with Rijo fronting the rotation (assuming Jimbo wouldn't have sold him off for a handful of 5-tool outfielders)?

wolfboy
07-09-2012, 02:11 PM
Rijo's raw stuff was filthier, but they are a decent comparison.

JC is easily the Reds' best starter since Rijo in my opinion.

Best since Rijo? Maybe. Easily? Harang had some very good seasons for the Reds.

WildcatFan
07-09-2012, 03:17 PM
Best since Rijo? Maybe. Easily? Harang had some very good seasons for the Reds.

He did, but he was also the best option on some bad rotations. He only twice had a better ERA+ than what Cueto has put out there the last 2 1/2 seasons. I'd argue that Johnny's last season, albeit a month shortened, was better than anything Harang ever did here.

Sorry if this has been posted here; I haven't read the whole thread. Since the beginning of 2010, a span of 73 starts, Cueto has a 2.86 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 333 Ks, 130 BBs, and a 142 ERA+. Know how many NL starters have an ERA+ better than 142 just this season? Six: Dempster, Cueto, McDonald, Dickey, Zimmerman, Vogelsong.

He's an ace, and it's not even an argument.

dougdirt
07-09-2012, 03:19 PM
He did, but he was also the best option on some bad rotations. He only twice had a better ERA+ than what Cueto has put out there the last 2 1/2 seasons. I'd argue that Johnny's last season, albeit a month shortened, was better than anything Harang ever did here.

Sorry if this has been posted here; I haven't read the whole thread. Since the beginning of 2010, a span of 73 starts, Cueto has a 2.86 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 333 Ks, 130 BBs, and a 142 ERA+. Know how many NL starters have an ERA+ better than 142 just this season? Six: Dempster, Cueto, McDonald, Dickey, Zimmerman, Vogelsong.

He's an ace, and it's not even an argument.

Tough to use ERA+ as a comparison. Cueto has one of the best defenses in baseball behind him, while Harang consistently had one of the worst.

WildcatFan
07-09-2012, 03:34 PM
Tough to use ERA+ as a comparison. Cueto has one of the best defenses in baseball behind him, while Harang consistently had one of the worst.

Good point. It also considers ballpark factors and the ERAs of the rest of the league, though. Seems it's at least a useful comparison. If you want to use WHIP, which is still influenced by defense, albeit much less so, there are only 18 NL pitchers with a better WHIP this season than the Cueto's over the past 73 starts, one of whom is Mr. Cueto himself.

The only measures of a pitcher not affected by defense at all are strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Johnny's 14th in K/BB (3.37) and tied for first in HR/9 (0.4, which is remarkable for a Red). His K/9 has come down by almost 2 from his first season, which tells me he's more concerned about pitching for ground balls because of his great defense. You can't dock him for the superheroes behind him.

wolfboy
07-09-2012, 03:48 PM
Good point. It also considers ballpark factors and the ERAs of the rest of the league, though. Seems it's at least a useful comparison. If you want to use WHIP, which is still influenced by defense, albeit much less so, there are only 18 NL pitchers with a better WHIP this season than the Cueto's over the past 73 starts, one of whom is Mr. Cueto himself.

The only measures of a pitcher not affected by defense at all are strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Johnny's 14th in K/BB (3.37) and tied for first in HR/9 (0.4, which is remarkable for a Red). His K/9 has come down by almost 2 from his first season, which tells me he's more concerned about pitching for ground balls because of his great defense. You can't dock him for the superheroes behind him.

You're right. You can't. At the same time, when we're talking about whether a guy is an "ace," it seems to me that we should be limiting the conversation to what Cueto actually does, not what Cueto and his superheroes have done. You can't deny the results. They are what they are; however, if you pair Cueto up with a terrible defense, I have my doubts that he'd perform anywhere near this well.

WildcatFan
07-09-2012, 04:20 PM
You're right. You can't. At the same time, when we're talking about whether a guy is an "ace," it seems to me that we should be limiting the conversation to what Cueto actually does, not what Cueto and his superheroes have done. You can't deny the results. They are what they are; however, if you pair Cueto up with a terrible defense, I have my doubts that he'd perform anywhere near this well.

You could say the same about any great pitcher. Make the defense worse, and their numbers would suffer accordingly. How much his numbers would suffer is pure speculation.

wolfboy
07-09-2012, 05:11 PM
You could say the same about any great pitcher. Make the defense worse, and their numbers would suffer accordingly. How much his numbers would suffer is pure speculation.

Maybe. Pitchers that miss a lot of bats are arguably less likely to be hurt by a poor defense behind them. I think that's what makes everyone a little gunshy about anointing Cueto with an 'ace' title. That being said, I think the term 'ace' is so amorphous it's practically meaningless.

WildcatFan
07-09-2012, 05:14 PM
Maybe. Pitchers that miss a lot of bats are arguably less likely to be hurt by a poor defense behind them. I think that's what makes everyone a little gunshy about anointing Cueto with an 'ace' title. That being said, I think the term 'ace' is so amorphous it's practically meaningless.

Agreed on all points. I like the "30 best pitchers" or "If I'm playing a Game 1, I'd be thrilled to run out this guy" definitions, but as for the correct definition, in the words of Sam Shakusky--who's to say?

Sea Ray
07-09-2012, 05:29 PM
Why quibble over a Cueto-Harang comparison? Harang was an ace for a time too. I can recall a yr when he continually beat Zambrano when both Carlos and the Cubs were flying high. Both guys qualify as a true #1 in my book

Bumstead
07-09-2012, 05:34 PM
An "Ace," in my mind at least, consistently puts together 200+ inning seasons in addition to the "ace-like" statistics. I think Cueto will become an "ace" and I think he is pitching like an "ace" but I don't think he has earned that distinction just yet. That being said, I believe he is certainly on his way.

Bum

dougdirt
07-09-2012, 05:36 PM
Good point. It also considers ballpark factors and the ERAs of the rest of the league, though. Seems it's at least a useful comparison. If you want to use WHIP, which is still influenced by defense, albeit much less so, there are only 18 NL pitchers with a better WHIP this season than the Cueto's over the past 73 starts, one of whom is Mr. Cueto himself.

The only measures of a pitcher not affected by defense at all are strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Johnny's 14th in K/BB (3.37) and tied for first in HR/9 (0.4, which is remarkable for a Red). His K/9 has come down by almost 2 from his first season, which tells me he's more concerned about pitching for ground balls because of his great defense. You can't dock him for the superheroes behind him.
Problem is, it doesn't account for defense. Ballpark factors mean nothing with these two guys because they were in the same parks for the most part, but were playing with incredibly different defenses behind them. It isn't all that useful to me in a situation like this because Harangs defense was so bad that his hits and runs were dramatically changed. That counts WHIP as well.

And I am not docking him as much as I am saying Harang should be given uber bonus points for what was behind him.