The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Selective Endpoint Fun with Phil Hughes

Dates g ip bf h r er hr bb hbp so ra era fip xfip
04/08/12-04/25/12 4 16.0 81 24 18 14 5 6 2 17 10.13 7.88 6.52 4.58
05/01/12-08/01/12 17 111.3 458 105 44 42 20 25 1 92 3.56 3.40 4.46 4.22
Dates bb/bf k/bf babip ld% gb% fb% iffb% hr/fb% FB% FBv
04/08/12-04/25/12 9.9% 21.0% .345 16.7% 28.3% 46.7% 8.3% 17.9% 60.7% 91.8
05/01/12-08/01/12 5.7% 20.1% .248 17.6% 29.8% 45.5% 7.2% 12.1% 63.2% 92.5

fip: Fielding-independent pitching
xfip: Expected fielding-independent pitching
bb/bf: walks and hbp per batters faced
k/bf: strikeouts per batters faced
babip: Batting average on balls in play against
ld%: Percentage of batted balls that were line drives
gb%: Percentage of batted balls that were ground balls
fb%: Percentage of batted balls that were fly balls
iffb%: Percentage of batted balls that were infield flies
FB%: Percentage of fastballs thrown
FBv: Average fastball velocity

The number that surprises me here the most is the HR/FB rate since May 1.  It’s approaching league average, which I suppose is what we should have expected, but it’s still surprising to me.  Especially given the disgraceful place he pitches half his games in.  He’s going to keep giving up homers when he’s giving up so many fly balls, but giving up a lot of fly balls isn’t necessarily a terrible thing.

The big question with how sustainable Hughes’s run over the last three months is has to be his BABIP against.  FIP and xFIP say that if that regresses he’ll be about 3/4 of a run worse per 9 innings pitched going forward.  There is some variability in ability to control BABIP against pitchers, but it’s generally small and hard to separate out from random variation over small sample sizes.  Hughes has been better than league average in that area in his career (.285 vs. around .302 for the league) and is at .280 this year.  So we have some evidence it may be a skill, but not enough to be certain.  The fact that he’s a fly ball pitcher supports a lower BABIP against, because fly balls are more likely to be outs.

I’m happy to see Hughes turning into a pretty reliable starter.  I was skeptical that it would happen, and I probably would have moved him into the bullpen after his April.  That the Yankees didn’t is a credit to them, something we don’t necessarily give them enough of some times.

--Posted at 8:41 am by SG / 25 Comments | - (0)


Page 1 of 1 pages:

He is now so averagy (is that a word?) it is annoying.

I love that he gave up 5 HR in 4 games as “Soon to be Non-tendered Phil” then still allowed 20 HR in 17 starts as “Front of the Rotation Phil”. Of course he’s pitched a lot more innings per start lately, but no matter how well things are going he just can’t quit the long ball.

I don’t think averagy is annoying, but I think he’s a bit better than that now anyway.  At his current pace he’d end the year around 3 WAR, which is a win better than average, and that includes a sub-replacement level April.  If the Yankees could lock him up for $10M/year for three or four years I think they should do it.

[3]  I think that would be a steal.  We bandied some numbers around the other day…I think 5/60 (including his arb year) may not be bad at all.  5 years is a bit of a long time for a pitcher - especially one with an injury history - but at Hughes’s age, that gets them through his age 31 season.  So you shouldn’t really get much of his decline phase, if any.  There’s definitely some downside risk to having $12M a year tied up with a pitcher who could be on the DL, especially with $189M. 

But 3 WAR is a fringy #2 starter.  With the upside that April was an anomoly, and if he can avoid that and get some more innings he can approach 4 WAR, which is a fringy #1.  $12M a year for a #1 starter is a steal.  $12M a year for a #3 starter is actually a bargain.  Maybe add some IP incentives in that would lower the amount if he doesn’t pitch, and it may then be OK to trade off a slightly higher salary if he makes all the incentives then.

Isn’t it actually better for the 2014 budget plan for Hughes to be averagy, and then keep getting better as he approaches 30? Probably going to get him at a very reasonable deal in terms of cost and length, and then he may go on to outperform the contract.

Honestly, I’d trade him.  He’s not going to be cheap much longer and I don’t know if I have the stomach to say he has turned it around for good and give him a long term contact with large numbers.

I think you can be even more selective with end points with Phil.  Outside of a rough 8 games as a 22 yo, April 2011, and April 2012 - he’s been a good young pitcher.  I think if he finishes at or around 200 IP this season, he’ll be in good shape to have a breakout 27 yo season.  As a starter, excepting 2011, he’s gone 7.2 / 7.5 / 7.7 K/9IP and his BB/9IP has gone 3.6 / 3.0 / 2.2

Now, that’s some selective endpointing.

I think Phil has had a lot of set-backs and as a flyball pitcher, they may have affected him more than a GB, pure power pitcher.  But I think the numbers suggest that he’s getting better and with a set workload, he should be in line to make the jump towards the top of rotation.

I’d be fine with something like 4/40, but maybe a 4/32 base with incentives for IP as Mike K. suggested in [4].  Say an extra $500k for 140, 160, 180, 200 or something like that.

I wouldn’t want to commit to 4-5 years at those prices.  I like Phil and I’m glad he’s on the team, but, as a starter, he has a career FIP and career xFIP both right around 4.50.  And he hasn’t been “reliable” at all: lots of ups and downs, lots of injury issues.  It’d be nice to think that he’s going to remain at his last-three-months level of performance for the next half-decade or so, but there’s no particular reason to think that he has finally stabilized as a reliable no. 2-3 SP.

(I understand that 4.50 isn’t BAD, and there’s value in being “average.” But I don’t think it’s prudent to hand out long-term contracts to average players, unless perhaps there is some pretty compelling evidence that they are going to be much, much better in the future.)

How many breakout seasons has Hughes already had ? Seams like we’ve predicted his impending arrival before.

[6] I don’t think they’d get sufficient return for him.  I mean, if they can trade him and he’s the centerpiece (meaning none of their top-5 prospects are included) for a package that brings back Upton or something, sure, I’d do it too.  But I don’t think trading him for an older pitcher who is more expensive makes sense, unless the pitcher is elite (e.g. Verlander, similar.)  But I don’t think he’s going to bring back the type of talent the Yankees need to get, which is either young and cheap with a good chance of being average or better, or elite talent that they have certaintity is worth the $$ given the budget constraints.

And as for “cheap”...again, if he’s a True Talent 3 WAR player and he can stay at that level (roughly) for 4 years, that’s $60M plus in value.  If they sign him for 4/40, or even 4/50, that’s also a lot of surplus value which is more and more important given the budget.  Even if he’s only a 2 WAR/year player, 4/40 is fair value.  While you’d like surplus value, having cost-certainity for a #3 starter will be key going forward.  And of course if Hughes proves himself to be 2 wins or better again next year, he’ll likely have MORE trade value on that reasonable contract than he does now.

(I understand that 4.50 isn’t BAD, and there’s value in being “average.” But I don’t think it’s prudent to hand out long-term contracts to average players, unless perhaps there is some pretty compelling evidence that they are going to be much, much better in the future.)

Hughes is at a place on the age curve where he should be able to meet or exceed what he’s doing this year for at least a few more years.  There is risk to 4-5 year contract, but I think that can be somewhat mitigated by adding in team options, and IP incentives.  If they are really serious about the $189M number, I think the Yankees are going to have to start trying to lock in some average players to reasonably priced contracts a year or two in advance.  You can’t have a 3-4 win player at every position, you need some average ones too.  So if they can get them at a discount - even slight - that will give them some room in the budget to acquire the 3-4 win players they need to be serious contenders.

And too, we have 2 more months of Hughes to see if it makes sense to offer a contract and for how much.  If he gets 10 more starts and throws 75IP with 90K/20BB an ERA of 2.00, I think we’ll have a much different feeling than if he gets 8 starts and a few bullpen outings, and throws 45IP with a 35/20) K/BB and an ERA around 5.

[11] - Well if no one else at baseball values him as a True Talent 3 WAR player, than neither should the Yankees. 

My point is he has been so up and down, I don’t want to commit to him long term.  I’d rather get a more proven, or as BD put it “stable”, player and commit to them, or not commit $10M to anyone and go year to year.  The Yankees with 189 can’t afford to take $10M dollar flyers anymore and there is significant downside risk to signing a player long term who only put it together for 5 months.

[11]  I may not be totally up to speed on this, but aren’t those dollars-to-WAR conversion formulas all based on FA contracts?  Even if Phil might be worth 4/40 as a free agent, don’t the Yankees have several pitchers in the minors that we think will be at least as “average” as Hughes over the next 5 years? 

Phil might still have upside, but based on everything we’ve gone through with him, I don’t think the Yankees would be taking an enormous risk in NOT signing him long-term.  Worst-case, you don’t pay him his FA market value, and you end up having to pay someone else THEIR FA market value to fill that hole.  However, you may not need to do that if one of the Bs pans out, for example.  And there’s always the reclamation projects.  Just sayin’ that Phil’s track record doesn’t justify locking him up long-term the way you would a more elite FA.

Frankly, the odds of either of the B’s panning out at this point are about the same as the odds of Eduardo Nunez turning into a Gold Glove defensive player.

There isn’t a pitcher on the Yankee farm that I’d say could pitch as well as Hughes over the next three or four years.  What would make Hughes expendable would be Ivan Nova consolidating the good things that have happened over the past two years and reducing the bad things and Michael Pineda being healthy and developing a changeup and David Phelps showing that the glimpses we’ve seen of him so far are evidence of a decent to good back of the rotation starter. 

Even with all that you’s still have a hole in a rotation of CC/Pineda/Nova/Phelps/???.

That being said, I can understand why people might be gun shy about Hughes right now because of his checkered past.  But the Yankees have to start taking risks like other teams do if they’re really going to keep their payroll in check.

Yeah, you’d rather pay Hughes 4/$40M after he demonstrates that he’s worth it, but by the time he’s done that his price tag might be 5/$60M and you’re assuming more risk(in number of years) and a higher salary per year.

[15] SG pretty much summed everything up right there.

I’m more optimistic about Banuelos contributing, but I’d be thrilled if he could pitch at Hughes’s 2012 level 2-3 years into his ML career.

[13] Teams may value him as a 3 win player.  But they’re valuing him as a 3 win player for 2013 only, right?  Teams that have “proven” players that are veterans and they want to trade, aren’t going to trade for one year of Phil Hughes.  Teams that need 1 year of Phil Hughes aren’t going to trade proven veterans.  They’ll probably trade maybe a B- prospect and some filler for him.  Now the Yankees need to make a second move, to replace Phil.  For someone who is more proven or whatever.  They’re either going to pay a lot in $$‘s, a lot in players, or both.  And chances are that proven player is also older, and as much/more of a injury risk.  Unless again, they’re getting a true Ace, which isn’t exactly easy.

[14] The $/WAR are based (I believe) on the average of what teams have actually spent per (projected) win on FA players in the year in question.  However, there is a fair amount of research that wins are more valuable for teams in contention than those not.  For example, getting from 75-80 wins doesn’t have a lot of value.  It has some - more wins = more fans - but not a lot because you still aren’t a serious playoff contender.  Going from 85-90 wins is worth a lot more.  So maybe a 75 win team pays $3M for a win, but an 85 win team pays $7M.  On average, it’s $5M per-win, but that doesn’t mean the 85 win team necessarily overpaid.

Building on SG, the point is if Hughes is a 3 win player ($15M per year), you try to use your leverage (only team that can pay him more than he’d get in arb) now to sign him to a contract that pays him like a 2-win player ($10M per year).  The numbers would actually be a bit higher over long term when you factor in inflation.  Then you’re getting more surplus value from him than you would if you waited a year for him to reach FA, or if you got a “proven” 3 win player at market-rate.  Put another way…if you only want “proven” players they would likely cost market rates.  Then an 81 win team would cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $190M (if RL is 43 wins).  To get to 90 wins, you need some players earning 2 wins of value, to produce 3 wins.

I think the argument for Hughes at $10/year over his prime years is totally convincing. Someone said you’d have to pay a premium - the opposite, I think, is true, as Mike K. indicates: you get a discount because you’re giving guaranteed long-term money that the player couldn’t get for another year, during which there’s injury risk.
This is the kind of thing the Yankees traditionally never did, but I think they knew they were paying a price for it.  Higher payroll for maximum flexibility.

[15] Yeah, you’d rather pay Hughes 4/$40M after he demonstrates that he’s worth it, but by the time he’s done that his price tag might be 5/$60M and you’re assuming more risk(in number of years) and a higher salary per year.

This was my point from before. If Hughes was better, we’d be talking about needing to give him the contract we gave Burnett just to keep him. If he blossoms late, we may get him below market rate because the negotations will be based on his performance to date. We take on risk, sure, but is it more risk than we’d be taking on if he was good enough to want Cole Hamels money? I’d venture to say that I’d rather take on the risk that he’s slightly below average and we pay him as average instead of paying him as elite and he ends up being average or just above average.

Read on the wire last week or the week before Joba consistently in the upper 90’s mph. No where close yesterday, what gives?

SG-thanks for avg velocities on SG. Problem with that data is that it doesn’t reveal whether pitcher has the ability to dial it up at times.  Average reminds me of the average weather this year. Its around 70 degrees. Sounds ideal however lots of 100 and low teen days (or worse) along the way.

I’d venture to say that I’d rather take on the risk that he’s slightly below average and we pay him as average instead of paying him as elite and he ends up being average or just above average.

Or, waiting until he is elite for a year (next year), and then having him command maybe not Hamels money but even Wilson money probably prices him out of the Yankees’ budget for 2014.  sd would rather trade him and I’m okay with that, IF they either a) can’t sign him to a reasonable deal or b) can get an elite, under 30 player back.  I just don’t see the latter happening, or at least not w/o giving up the same high-level prospects they’d need to use anyway.

Read on the wire last week or the week before Joba consistently in the upper 90’s mph. No where close yesterday, what gives?

Hughes’s velo was down a bit too.  IDK how the other pitchers looked compared to their norms.  So some possibilities that aren’t related to, “all Yankee pitchers are on the verge of collapse”...

1) Pitch f/x’s calibration in Yankee Stadium is slightly off, perhaps registering 1MPH (remember that’s only about 1% off!) slower
2) Weather conditions yesterday were not conducive to good FB velocity (I think very plausible)
3) Guns used in Joba’s minor league appearances were hot (also plausible)
4) Joba was holding back a little
5) invisible midges

[21] - I don’t see them getting an elite player back in return either but I disagree that is the only way it makes sense. 

SG reasons that this year he is on pace to be a 3 WAR player but over the last three months he is on pace to be a 4 WAR player.  You mention his DL issues in the past, but I don’t think the choices are healthy and 3-4 WAR player, or on the DL. From 2011-April 2012 he was a below replacement level pitcher.  Even his second half of 2010 was rather bad. 

My point is, even if you want to sign him for 2 WAR money, I think I’d rather have a consistent 2 WAR player (who will likely get a short contract) or $10M per year in general than Hughes for the same money since the downside risk isn’t JUST injury.  Given that, not having to pay him alone has value on top of the value that you get in the return side of the trade.  That doesn’t mean you have to give him away, but that also doesn’t mean you need 3-4 WAR player in return.

[23]  It’s a risk either way.  If it wasn’t a risk that he would be worth 1 WAR or less per year (whether by injury or ineffectiveness) going forward, there wouldn’t be any opportunity to sign him to a 2 WAR/year value contract.  And the risk on the other side is if they trade Hughes and he is a 3+ WAR/yr player going forward, they’re going to be losing out on a potential to save a lot of money.

Even if you don’t want to say you need to get back “elite” talent, I don’t see how you’re going to get anything for Hughes that makes sense, for the reasons I outlined above.  Teams that have “sure thing” veterans aren’t going to want a player w/ only a year of team control left; they’re stocking up talent for a future run.  Teams that want to make a run next year aren’t going to trade for pitchers like Hughes until after FA is exhausted and the truly elite pitchers who may be on the market (e.g. Lee) are no longer available.  I don’t think the Yankees are going to want to wait until January on this.

Do you think that the Yankees could still get Reggie Sanders for Hughes?

Page 1 of 1 pages:

NY Post: Scout’s mysterious concerns over Yankees’ hyped prospect
(55 Comments - 10/22/2016 11:14:10 pm)

NYDN: Indians, Cubs benefiting from deadline trades with Yankees
(71 Comments - 10/20/2016 10:19:02 am)

NY Post: This is just what Yankees wanted to see from James Kaprielian
(66 Comments - 10/18/2016 3:08:21 am)

Lohud: Eight Yankees prospects get started in Arizona Fall League today
(43 Comments - 10/13/2016 9:29:30 pm)

ESPN: Yankees GM Brian Cashman will resist trading prospects for veteran stars
(121 Comments - 10/12/2016 5:31:00 pm)

FOX Sports: 20 years ago today, Jeffrey Maier gave Derek Jeter and the Yankees a boost
(73 Comments - 10/11/2016 10:24:35 pm)

Bloomberg: Mets Beat Yankees in Local TV Ratings for First Time Ever
(86 Comments - 10/6/2016 3:29:01 pm)

NY Post: Yankees say goodbye to Mark Teixeira and end on sour note
(54 Comments - 10/4/2016 9:07:01 am)

Orioles (88-73) @ Yankees (84-77), Sunday, 10/2/2016, 3:05PM ET
(23 Comments - 10/3/2016 2:05:20 pm)

Orioles (87-72) @ Yankees (83-76), Friday, 9/30/2016, 7:05pm
(44 Comments - 10/2/2016 9:52:54 am)