What is your opinion of the A.J. Pierzynski signing?
MJH on accountability
utb, you gotta seriously raise your game if you want to hang in this conversation.
Buehrle? Buehrle? Totally different pitcher and not in the same league. Look at his velocity graph:http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=225&position=P&pitch=FA
That guy lives in the 80's.He can't even do 87 anymore! He's just a crafty old guy.
Now here is Matt's velo. He lives in the 90s and can touch 97.http://www.fangraphs.com/pitchfxo.aspx?playerid=5551&position=P&pitch=FA
In 12 years Buehrle has only once come close to an ERA of 3. Matt's about to conclude his second season right on it.
Matt utterly dusts Mark Buehrle.
FanGraphs currently ranks Harry as the 6th best American League pitcher, right where I've been touting him. C'mon boys this is way too easy.
Your traditional "must fit our high-strike-out" formula is getting utterly trounced.
It's too easy for all of us, Elvis. We're all kind of giggling at how silly you are.
Giggle away. I like it when the world is happy.
But remember this: Rare is the occasion when I'm not laughing last. It happens...but rarely.
Time to belly up and make your wagers, boys.
Here are the terms of the bet:Conditional: Matt must stay healthy
The over/under:Next season Harrison maintains a road ERA under 3.35 I win.
Arlington's park effects fluctuate wildly from mild (this year) to epic (last season) so we simply have to eliminate that wild card.
Go to my site--icecavetechnology.com if you want to play. You'll easily find my contact info.
I've read through all the points being made by both sides, and I keep encountering one big flaw in the arguments being offered here. It's the circular reasoning being used as some sort of proof.
The statement being made is that Harrison CAN'T and WON'T sustain his performance over time, and it's because "he has been lucky" over the last two years. Declared as fact.
Yet, isn't the evaluation of whether the last two years are luck, or whether they are skill, going to ultimately be determined by the results in his future (and long-term average) performance? In other words, if in the future Harrison's results slip, to the degree that the last two seasons are outliers, then those results will be exhibited to be luck. But if he sustains his performance, it won't.
By proclaiming his current performance lucky, those who do so are offering nothing more than a self-serving assumption. No one knows yet. You can't pencil in future results, as if they had already occurred. That's not empirical at all, it's simply someone deciding in their own mind they must be correct, and then proclaiming a certainly for the future that fits their bias.
If we stick to the facts, Harrison MAY be lucky. Or he MAY be an incredibly good pitcher that has developed some TORP skills and the ability to pitch his way out of jams, better than most pitchers. Over time we will know which it is, but if you think you already know the answer for what his future performance has to be, your hubris is astronomical. Or you are Miss Cleo.
Thank you David.
They would claimed the same about Maddux. You state my point well. They can't know.
Harrison has 87 starts in the majors. The back half of that work looks a lot different than the front half. And I know it is not JUST luck because I can see K/BB ratio increased by 75%. That's dramatic. How folks look at that in correlation with other metrics improving and not acknowledge that there may be less luck than they are advocating is beyond me.
Im going to enjoy watching this on play out over the next few years.
Agreed David. I dont think anyone arguing for Harry have said that he WILL become an ace. Merely that only time will tell. The people arguing against Harry have said that he WONT become an ace (and from time to time will say probably wont). I, for one, am just intrigued to see how it all unfolds and hope that we are watching an ace develop before our eyes. Could he fall on his face? possibly. Could he take it to the next level? possibly. Only time will tell.
On a separate, and probably more relevant, note, is he worth an extension like Holland's? More? Less?
David wrote: "Isn't the evaluation of whether the last two years are luck, or whether they are skill, going to ultimately be determined by the results in his future (and long-term average) performance?"
His strand-rate is unsustainable. Harrison's strand-rate was 72.3% in 2011 and this year it's 78.5%. That is a product of luck. Over the offseason, Harrison did not suddenly learn how to "pitch out of jams." He has been fortunate.
So, with the 6.2% difference, his era should be up to 3.23. Yea, thats terrible. He's so lucky his era is as low as it is.
UTB, your assertion that "improvement = luck" is pure analytical nonsense. .
If we look objectively, we see Harrison's strand rate went from league average in 2011, to a bit above league average this season, but he hasn't moved into "statistically impossible" territory at all.
As nate notes, even if we subtract out what is being called luck, he still ends up as a top tier pitcher this season statistically. As a result, the idea that he could NOT have improved in this area as well as overall is simply insupportable objectively.
In fact, it we want to find a reason to account for it, isn't there a rational performance-based explanation for his improved strand rate? Yes there is. As has been noted, his HR rate is down - which for a pitcher like him would come from being more consistent at keeping the ball down ...and lo and behold, we know from observation he has done exactly that this season. That means this season it's typically taking several successful hits to score on him, at the end of which (without a HR) it's inevitably going to leave runners on base when the next batter fails to hit (as they do 72% of the time), whereas scoring via a HR last season would have wiped the bases clean (and left fewer stranded).
After looking closer, it's very logical that all of that "luck" is interrelated to skill improvement, with "better HR rate" and "better strand rate" actually more than the product of "better pitching, better job of keeping the ball down in the zone" and having little to do with luck.
Or, of course, we can lazily close our eyes and decide, "Aw, I bet he's just lucky."
And it may be pure luck, of course. Time will tell. But it could be that he's improved ...and insisting that it HAS TO BE luck based on "just because" is simple close-mindedness - and pure nonsense.
No one would claim that Greg Maddux couldn't sustain his performance. At his peak, Maddux had an unbelievable K/BB ratio. He didn't have 10 Ks per game. But what made him special was that he had pinpoint command, which allowed him to never walk anyone. He once had a season in which his BB/9 rate was 0.77. Is there any evidence that Matt Harrison will ever do that? No. That's why Greg Maddux is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Matt Harrison isn't Greg Maddux in part b/c Matt Harrison doesn't have Maddux's other-worldly control. Harrison walks people. Maddux didn't. Harrison has a normal K/BB rate. At his peak, Maddux had an elite+ K/BB rate.
By the way, guess what Maddux's career strand rate was: 72% (league avg.) He had some seasons with a strand rate over 80% and some with a strand rate under 70%. But overall, he had a league avg. strand rate. Even Greg Maddux couldn't sustain a 78% strand rate. And for the years that Fangraphs has data, Maddux had a league avg. HR/FB rate.
It's fine with me if Harrison enthusiasts want to claim that he's as good as Felix Hernandez or he's the next Greg Maddux, but please stop mischaracterizing the position of those of us who disagree. It's a pretty simple argument. Harrison doesn't have swing-and-miss stuff or pinpoint control. Maybe he'll develop it, but there's no reason to believe that. Right now, Harrison has an average K/BB rate. He's a pitch-to-contact pitcher with an above avg., but not extreme, ground ball rate. Yet he has a v. low BABIP, v. high strand rate, and v. low HR/FB rate. Pitchers who put up comparable #s over a sustained period are elite+ pitchers, most of them HOFers or future HOFers. And most of those pitchers were high K guys and/or high K/BB rate guys. They weren't pitch-to-contact, GB pitchers. Even extreme GB pitchers like Trevor Cahill don't have a BABIP, strand rate, and HR/FB rate like Matt Harrison. All of this suggests that (a) Matt Harrison is pitching way over his head and will fall to earth or (b) Harrison has some sort of unique talent for stranding runners and not giving up HRs that no other pitcher with a similar profile has or has ever had in the history of baseball. I'm choosing option A. You're free to choose option B, but please don't act like option B is the obvious choice.
If you disagree with me on this, then find me at least one example in the history of baseball of a starting pitcher with a 2 K/BB rate and a 50% GB rate who sustained over a long period a .275 BABIP, a 78% strand rate, and an 8% HR/FB rate. Find me a starting pitcher who comes close to fitting that profile, and then you've advanced the ball in this debate. Then we can discuss whether Matt Harrison is really so super. If you can't find such a starting pitcher, then you are in effect arguing that of the thousands of guys who've played baseball over the past 100+ years, Matt Harrison is unique. That may be correct, but the odds are that it's not that Matt Harrison is unique. Rather, the stars have aligned for him over a small sample and he's putting up numbers that he is very unlikely to sustain.
RFan, your assertions that Harrison isn't Greg Maddux is based on what Maddux became over time. But it's interesting to look at Maddux's stat lines in his early years - when he played in the batter-friendly confines in CHI - and to see that the trend line for the two pitchers is stunningly similar.
To say that Harrison CAN'T improve his control, is to fail to recognize that others have done exactly that. Maddux's control improved remarkably over the years. But he started out semi-wild like MH did, then after a couple years had a marked improvement (almost identical to Harry's in 2011), which brought a marked reduction in HR rate (again, just like MH). Then in ATL his control got even better and he went from All-Star to Hall-of-Famer.
It's also instructive to notice that Maddux's stat lines took a big jump for the better, for apparently the very same reason that Harrison's did last season. He reduced his walk rate. The trend line of the K/BB rate and te HR rate for MH compares very similarly (and at pretty much the same levels so far) to exactly how Maddux progressed.
Maddux's jump took him to BB rate of 2.9/9ip, K rate of 5.1, HR rate of 0.5, K/BB of 1.73, ERA of 3.18. His next year (and several that followed in CHI) almost identical. MH's numbers last year after his big jump? BB rate 2.8, K rate 6.1, HR rate 0.6, K/BB 2.21, ERA 3.39...and this year, pretty much the same. Let me put those first year jump lines side by side ...
GM ..BB rate 2.9, K rate 5.1, HR rate 0.5, K/BB 1.73, ERA 3.18 MH ...BB rate 2.8, K rate 6.1, HR rate 0.6, K/BB 2.21, ERA 3.39
Also interesting to note: if you're old enough to recall, lots of talk at the time, that GM was just a fluke, because he was so successful despite not being known as a strikeout pitcher. Except he kept doing it.
Does this mean that MH is destined to continue to improve as Maddux did? Nope. But the assertions that he can't, and that it's never been done, are simply not factual. Control is simply a matter of precision and the learned ability to mechanically duplicate motion, so getting better with more experience would certainly make sense. MH certainly has the arm to keep going, and we get to see if he does.
In any event, it's folly to dismiss him at this point, just due to bias for a different style of pitching.
@ David wrote: "Does this mean that MH is destined to continue to improve as Maddux did? Nope. But the assertions that he can't, and that it's never been done, are simply not factual."
If you are arguing that Harrison can "continue to improve" and may eventually become an elite pitcher, that's a completely different argument. If, IF Harrison continues to improve his command so as to reach the level of Maddux, THEN Harrison will have a chance to be elite. But he clearly is not on that level right now.
Right now, he has average peripherals and elite results. Can you name other pitchers who maintained average peripherals similar to those of Harrison who consistently performed at an elite level? Or is Harrison simply a once-in-a-liftetime talent?
utb, thats the whole argument. No one is saying that he currently is an ace. Nor are they saying he will become one by continuing pitching like he has up to this point. The argument is that he still has the POTENTIAL to make that leap with refined command and pitching know-how (which both almost ALWAYS come from experience). He doesnt have the stuff of Verlander or Kershaw or Hernandez or Price. So to become an ace, he's going to have to rely on greg maddux/cliff lee type of control and know how. Does he have it now? No. But neither did greg maddux/cliff lee at the same point in their respective careers.
I honestly don't care if he's lucky or good, so long as whichever it is keeps up through the playoffs...
If that is your contention, then I don't necessarily disagree; however, that has not been the genesis of the messages conveyed throughout this thread.
Most pro-Harrison posts have attempted to argue that Harrison's results this season and in 2011 prove that his CURRENT elite production is not a fluke and, instead, accurately reflects Harrison's current skill-set.
Some of us disagree.
UTB,you asked "Can you name other pitchers who maintained average peripherals similar to those of Harrison who consistently performed at an elite level?" and wow, I just answered that. But I'll do it again in more detail.
Harrison's peripherals and results in 2011 and 2012, are almost a spitting image of those for Maddux in Chicago (if that fact doesn't make a Rangers' fan salivate, it should), and Maddux in Chicago was (a) TORP, (b) elite, (c) All-Star multiple times, (d) and was able to repeat essentially the same peripherals and get the same results year after year after year there. And while it's gotten shoved to the side in this discussion, Harrison himself is simply repeating what he did last season, which further supports the idea that this sort of year is not some sort of fluke but instead is a sustainable level of performance that he's created for himself.
These stat lines are for the year that each took a jump in performance. For Maddux, it was his 3rd year (after 32 starts in yrs 1-2). For Harrison it was his 4th year (after 32 starts in yrs 1-3).
GM ..BB rate 2.9, K rate 5.1, HR rate 0.5, K/BB 1.73, WHIP 1.249 ERA 3.18MH ...BB rate 2.8, K rate 6.1, HR rate 0.6, K/BB 2.21, WHIP 1.276 ERA 3.39
Those performances followed prequels in which everything was much worse, and the control was all over the lot (with BB/9 in the mid-3s and 4s). Then it looks like the light bulb came on, they figured out how to pitch and better control, and the results were tantalizingly similar.
Maddux put up numbers like that for 5 consecutive seasons in CHI and then went to ATL. Harrison did it in 2011, and is doing almost identically in 2012.
(Is it a coincidence that the Maddux family has been involved in teaching MH how to pitch? I dunno. But it's food for thought, isn't it?)
Here's the bottom line. Even if there is some component of luck involved in the details rising or falling a bit here or there, the fact that Maddux was able to repeat the results, and so has Harrison, would seem to objectively take what we're seeing from MH out of the "luck" category and make it a matter of skill. And from Maddux's career, when we look even further down the line, we see that the control can be improved to yet another level (even after 6-7 years as a full-time starter) and then yield even greater results. As a Ranger fan, that's intriguing.
PS - I see Nate saying he's not an "ace" and I'm led to wonder, "Why not?" He gets the batters out, and he consistently wins games, and isn't that what an ace is supposed to do for you?
Ace is a very arbitrary term and different people define it differently. My definition is less numbers based and more eye test. Its simply this: Do I feel we have a good shot at winning the world series with him leading a rotation into the playoffs? Personally, THIS YEAR, I do not.
Two things: first, Maddux made his "jump" in his age 22 season. Harrison's "jump" came in his age 26 season.
Secondly, Maddux was not elite at that time. From Maddux age 22 season until his age 26 season, he posted a NL ERA of 3.26. Scaling that for AL production puts it around 3.75. That is a pretty good projection for where Harrison should be.
Maddux was awesome. But is he the only other pitcher in baseball history to produce peripherals anywhere near Harrison's and produce consistently great results? If so, I think that supports my argument more than yours.
One of my pet peeves is that fans --even those that understand park effects-- perpetually fail to fold them into their baseball assessments.
The run-scoring differential between Arlington and Tampa Bay or Arlington and Seattle are 25-50%!!
With that in mind I often like to isolate road splits. Now granted, that slightly favors Ranger pitchers, who have road venues in Seattle, Oak, etc...but still it is often closer to reality than looking at home and away totals.
Road ERAs under 3.3F Hernandez 2.92Peavy 3.02Matt Harrison 3.05J Weaver 3.06Hamels…3.11Justin Verlander 3.21 ------D Price 3.41
Road ERAs under 3.3, 2011CJ Wilson …2.31 Justin Verlander 2.43Romero 2.91Weaver 2.93Sabbathia 2.93Matt Harrison 2.99 Beckett 3.05D Price 3.25F Hernandez 3.28
Only 4 pitchers show up in both listsVerlanderHernandezHarrisonWeaver (Price just misses)
David, I didn't say that it's impossible for Matt Harrison to turn into Greg Maddux. I just don't see any reason to believe it will happen. Anything is possible. But for every Cliff Lee and Bautista who suddenly figure it out, there are hundreds of others who don't.
As for your contention that Harrison is like the early Greg Maddux, that's more reasonable than the argument that some have made that Harrison's current 3.0 ERA represents his true talent level. In response to your argument, I'd point out the following:
1) Maddux's ERA during the 88 to 91 seasons ranged from about 3.0 to 3.5. That seems super-impressive. But the run environment was much different then. The avg. ERA for an NL starter during that period was roughly 3.65. So Maddux was about 1/2 run above avg. The avg. ERA for an AL starter in 2012 is 4.4. So Harrison's current ERA is about 1.4 runs above avg. Way better than early Maddux relative to his peers. So even if Harrison is the early Maddux, it's still very likely that he's currently pitching over his head.
2) Early Maddux had a normal strand rate--ranging from upper 60s to mid 70s. Harrison has a 78% strand rate, which isn't at all normal and is way better than what Harrison did last year.
3) Fangraphs doesn't have GB rate data or HR/FB rate data on the early Maddux. (And I was a kid at the time so I don't remember.) But I suspect that early Maddux was more of an extreme GB pitcher than Harrison. The reason is that we do have GB rate data for older Maddux (who wasn't that great). Even when he was older and not as good anymore, he consistently had a GB rate of 51%, which is equal to what Harrison is currently doing. Also, early Maddux had super-low HR/9 #s, even better than Harrison.
4) The last point that I would make is that in response to the argument that Harrison's current 3.0 ERA is a fluke, the best response that anyone can give is that Harrison looks somewhat like the early Maddux and may develop into the peak Maddux. If my choices are between (a) Harrison's 2012 season is a fluke and (b) Harrison will develop into Greg Maddux, a once in a generation HOFer, then I'm choosing option A. Call me crazy, but option A seems much more likely.
ElvisMVP, you keep pointing out that Harrison has a low road ERA. That's great. But many of Harrison's road games are in some the best pitcher's parks in the league. Aside from RBiA, the AL West is a pitcher's dream. That's why Jered Weaver is so overrated. Plus, Harrison pitched games in San Fran and San Diego during interleague play.
UTB, you were asserting that what Harrison is doing is a fluke ...and the fact that Maddux put up almost identical numbers, and did it year after year, and Harrison is now doing year after year, would indicate that it's not some sort of luck driving the results. Repetition, and duplication, point to skill not luck.
As far as other pitchers, you said there are none, and I gave you one. You said it couldn't be done again, and I gave you repetition. I suspect there are a jillion more examples, but each time you simply ignore one answer and change the criteria, so that's enough research to prove my point. Frankly I've already done enough to show that "it's luck" is simply a biased assumption rather than anything objective in this thread, and the ever-shifting criteria you keep demanding further proves my point.
To a degree, EVERYTHING in baseball has some element of luck. But there's nothing in Harrison's numbers that has to be due to luck. If you pitch better, your numbers get better and you've often made.your own "luck" and nothing more.
David, to be clear, my position is that Harrison's current true talent level is ERA 3.8 to 4.1. I suspect that the early Greg Maddux (1988-91) would've had an ERA ranging from 3.6 to 4.2 if he had pitched in the AL in the modern day period. So you're right in that sense that Harrison is roughly comparable to Maddux in terms of ERA. But there are a lot of pitchers that you could say that about and virtually none of them will develop into peak-level Greg Maddux. Also, in terms of ERA, Maddux was at Harrison's level when he was age 22. He was a beast from the get go.
Also, Harrison has not been doing this year after year. He's been doing it for about 1.5 seasons. I guarantee that he won't maintain a 78% strand rate and 3.0 ERA. It's just not going to happen.
Reality check: Matt Harrison is not Greg Maddux. Wow! Are we really engaging in this conversation?
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