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About a year ago, I introduced a new stat called Dominance Ratio (DR), right here at the Box. Now that a year has passed, I thought I would revisit my top 10 list of dominant minor league starting pitchers and make a new top ten list for 2013.

The concept behind Dominance Ratio (DR) is to set the negative pitching events such as hits and walks against the ultimate mark of pitching dominance - the strikeout. The measure is most useful for minor league pitchers because of the way professional baseball is structured.

The minor leagues are like a giant funnel, with talent flowing from the low minors through the system into the major leagues. The harsh reality is that at each level, you have to out-compete your peers. As you rise through the system, the hitters get more "strikeout resistant". Those pitchers who dominated at the lower levels should still succeed, but a great majority of the rest find that their stuff no longer works. They hit a wall and their progress is halted unless they can figure out how to adjust.

Dominance ratio can help us identify pitchers who are not necessarily highly-touted but who have performed well enough to justify major prospect status, even if Baseball America hasn't cottoned on yet. One member of the spring 2012 top ten list was a relatively unheralded left-hander in the Reds organisation, Tony Cingrani. Last year we watched him carve up the minor leagues and because of an injury to Johnny Cueto, he is a now thriving in the Reds starting rotation. Here is a "where are they now" review of the other 9 pitchers on last year's list.

After absolutely destroying the Sally league at Delmarva (no earned runs in 30ip), the Dylan Bundy train slowed down in the high-A Carolina league: Bundy was merely excellent there. He made 3 starts at AA and got a cup of coffee with the Orioles during the 2012 pennant race. He hasn't pitched in 2013 yet due to right elbow tightness, and is now officially linked with the most feared words in pitching - "James Andrews". Jumped from #10 rated prospect to #2 this preseason on the BA100 list.

Taijuan Walker lurks just off the spring 2013 DR top ten list - his relative youth being his greatest attribute. He pitched in AA last year as a teenager and the Mariners have decided to start him there this season. Walker has had a touch of walkitis, but has otherwise been very good and should see AAA within a few months. On track to make an impact with the big club late this year or next season.

Jameson Taillon also makes the spring 2013 honourable mentions list. The consensus is that Taillon has fallen behind fellow star prospect Gerrit Cole in the race to the Pirates rotation. HIs relatively low strikout rate in the Florida State League in 2012 causes me some conern, but he's ratcheted it up since being promoted to AA

Cody Buckel was drafted in the 2nd round out of high school in California in 2010. In 13 starts at Myrtle Beach of the Carolina League, Buckel was brilliant, earning a promotion to the Texas league. He did well and started in AA this year. However, Buckel has been terrible in four starts with 22 walks in 9 inniings - an occurence that was completely unexpected. Something is wrong, no doubt, but let's hope its not an injury that has caused a change in pitching mechanics.

The lustre had faded a bit on Danny Hultzen towards the end of last year, as he struggled with his command after promotion to AAA. Hultzen was the #2 overall pick out of U of Virginia in 2011 and was on the BA Top30 list in 2012 and 2013. He's rebounded with a very good start in 2013 and I expect to see him in the Seattle rotation soon. He makes the top 20 on the spring 2013 DR list.

An Angels supplemental first rounder in 2010, Tyler Skaggs started 6 games for the Diamondbacks. BA has been touting him since 2011 and he shows up at #12 of the BA100 list this spring. The lefthander was included with Patrick Corbin, Joe Saunders and Rafael Rodriguez in a trade to Arizona for Dan Haren. Skaggs begins the year at AAA and I expect to see a mid-season promotion into Arizona's rotation.

Apart from Cingrani, the great success story from last year's list is Jose Fernandez. Born in Cuba and drafted out of Tampa high school baseball, his meteoric rise through the minors is impressive. However, the decision to skip AA and AAA and land him in the Marlins rotation has drawn criticism. And indeed, Fernandez does appear to be raw, though the physial tools are in the mold of a classic righthanded power pitcher. Not on the BA100 list in 2012, Fernandez has jumped to #5 on this year's pre-season list.

Christian Friedrich was the oldest player on the DR top 10 list. After his hot start to 2012, Freidrich was promoted and had a rough MLB debut season with a 6.17 era in 16 starts, mitigated by a good 74k/30W ratio in 84.2 IP. He'll be 26 in July this year and starts the season in Colorado Springs again.

After the great disgorging of talent, Aaron Sanchez is one of the few blue chip prospects left in the Jays system. A solid performance at Lansing/MWL has propelled Sanchez to #65 on the BA100 list. He starts the year at Dunedin/FSL and has to overcome walk issues to progress quickly.

In part 2, I'll look in detail at this year's list, and some age and level adjustments I've made to make the Top 10 list less subjective.
Age-Adjusted Dominance Ratio (Part 1) | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 09:26 AM EDT (#271002) #
Nicely done, Robert.  I always appreciate articles which review how things actually worked out, and I am eagerly awaiting Osuna's appearance on a list soon.
Gerry - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 12:31 PM EDT (#271011) #

Robert, your list identifies mostly top prospects who are highly valued by all systems.  Cingrani would be an exception.  I think it would be useful if you wrote about pitchers that your system values more highly than the usual Baseball America type analysis.  And also players who you don't rate highly but BA does.  That information, if it were predictive, would increase the value of your system.

sam - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#271017) #
It's an interesting concept, but I'm with Gerry on this.  I'm not very up on the most cutting edge stats (I still like my OPS, WHIP, and Ks), but for me the appeal of any new statistical model is its ability to shed new light on the sport, or give players the credit they deserve.  Your model seems to confirm what talent evaluators and all stats seem to suggest about prospects.  Unless you meant this as a statistical confirmation of scouting evaluation, I don't know if this tells us anything new?   
katman - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 02:19 PM EDT (#271018) #
Well, for those of us who haven't seen all those scouting evaluations, yeah, it's new. Thanks!
Thomas - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#271025) #

To note a correction, it's Dylan, not Ryan, Bundy.

I'm with Sam and Gerry. It's an enjoyable read in any case, but, as you noted, many of these prospects were on BA's Top 100 list at the same time your list last year came out and several of those who weren't were touted by other prospect analysts such as Law (I'm thinking particularly of Sanchez and Fernandez). The three guys your system picked out who seemed to get relatively less hype were Cingrani, Buckel and Friedrich. It'd be interesting to see who you don't like off this year's BA Top 100, for example, particularly someone who is a younger hype-heavy prospect as opposed to a Dan Straily type.

robertdudek - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 03:37 PM EDT (#271027) #

I'm afraid I can't agree. Only half of the ten were on the BA top100 list and the two most "successful" to date were not. Yes, Jose Fernandez was not on the list.
This year's list has a much greater proportion of unheralded pitchers - I'm sure you'll agree when you see it.

Of the qualified pichers on the 2013 BA list, several have performed poorly so far this year. I'll delve into that in the future too.

The system looks at performance, but a particular kind. It is based on what I believe is sound logic and so must be useful. But if anyone can demonstrate the logic to be unsound I would be most grateful.

robertdudek - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 03:46 PM EDT (#271029) #

Thanks, error corrected.

Other analysts incorporate more sabermetric principles than does BA, so no surprise that they would be on to Fernandez and Sanchez earlier. Please wait until I have a chance to present this year's improved methodolgy before drawing conclusions.

Thank you all for the interest.
Gerry - Friday, April 26 2013 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#271030) #


Are you familiar with Ron Shandlers work?  He uses a formula in his annual forecaster that heavily emphasises strikeouts, walks and home run rate.

Age-Adjusted Dominance Ratio (Part 1) | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.