Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 2, 2008
BASEBALL: Where The Sonnanstine

I noted in the AL East preview that Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine had very good K/BB numbers as a rookie last season and not-terrible HR rates, thus making him a good bet to improve this year. But I didn't realize at first how historic his rookie year was: in fact, among pitchers who threw 100 or more innings with a K/BB ratio of 3-to-1 or better, Sonnanstine's 5.85 ERA was the second-highest ever, behind only Ken Dixon in 1985, who never returned to the majors after posting a 6.43 ERA at age 26.

What does this mean? Let's take a quick look. I picked out the 10 highest ERAs among this group by pitchers age 27 or younger, who pitched again in the majors, and pitched after the modern ball-strike counts were set in 1889 - this chart shows their age in the season when they had the high ERA and their ERAs in the following three seasons, with an asterisk on seasons of very few innings:

PitcherAgeYr+1Yr+2Yr+3
Joaquin Benoit263.724.862.85
Frank Castillo275.426.833.59
Chris Bosio243.362.954.00
Eric Milton244.324.84*2.65
Glendon Rusch264.706.423.47
Odalis Perez263.254.566.20
Steve Woodard245.855.20*6.62
Josh Towers24*7.904.485.11
Jon Lieber274.114.074.41
Ben Sheets242.703.333.82

Definitely a mixed record, but one with a substantial opportunity for short-term optimism. While nearly every name on this list has had in one sense or another a disappointing career other than maybe Lieber, almost all of them have been effective and valuable pitchers at some point in their careers (Woodard being the exception, and Woodard and Towers have the worst ERAs ever for pitchers with career K/BB ratios above 3 to 1), and a number of these guys became stars overnight - Sheets, Bosio, Perez.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:15 PM | Baseball 2008 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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