Bill James Starting Pitcher Rankings
Paxton at #51, Leake at #65


James currently has Mike Leake listed as the #65 starting pitcher in the major leagues; last week he was #66.  Exactly one year ago, Leake was #49 in the league.  One year before that, Leake was number #30.  One year before that, he was #36.

James Paxton is #51.  As far as James' rating system is concerned, it's not that big a deal whether the Mariners are using Leake, vs. Paxton, during the stretch run of the 2017 playoffs.  Of course James is aware of the lockdown potential.  He is emphasizing the "sure" return of 4-5 starts.

Also, once you realize that Mike Leake has been a #30-65 starter in the bigs for several years now, and realize that he has 14 Quality Starts this year (#28 in baseball), the M's enemies probably hope that Leake IS fading down the stretch of 2017.  Here is his velocity graph this season.  The right one-third represents 2017.  He was 92 early in the season, 89-90 now, which makes strikeouts tougher:



Leake's game logs the last five times out, most recent at the top:

TBR - 7.0 ip, 6h, 4r, 4er, 0bb, 3k, 3hr

@PIT - 3.0 ip, 8h, 6r, 6er, 0bb, 3k, 1hr

@BOS - 4.1 ip, 9h, 8r, 8er, 2bb, 2k, 0hr

KCR - 5.0 ip, 11h, 5r, 4er, 1bb, 5k, 1hr

@CIN - 6.0 ip, 8h, 3r, 3er, 0bb, 3k, 0hr

Which has taken his ERA from an end-of-July 3.29 up to its current 4.21.  Nice to have no walks, anyway :- )



In James' latest article on August 25th, he points out that usually he takes flak from people who don't think "hot" starters are high enough on his list, here Michael Fulmer or Jacob DeGrom.  He points out that it is not a prediction for who will be the best pitcher next start; it predicts the best pitchers over time.

He thinks his list factors in durability, and should factor in durability.  Bully for him.


My reaction to this has been that --- > really, all good starting pitchers have about the same chance of getting hurt next year.  (That's a superficial take, but it's been my take.)  And my take is that USCF chess ratings slap a huge "rising star" bonus onto junior-level players who are much, much better than their ratings.

If pitchers did all get hurt equally, my logic would hold up.


But!  Supposing some pitchers are more durable than others.  How would you measure that, and intersect it with quality?  ...well, you would do it with --- > James' Starting Pitcher Rankings, the way he does them.  The list DOES start with domination, and it folds in consistent domination over time.  It is indeed measuring the intersection of RELiability with DOMinance.

Isn't that something.


So, anyway, he's got Paxton sinking softly to #51, and then when Pax gets pitching again he'll climb by 5 slots at a turn.  He's got Mike Leake at #65 in the game, well into #3 starter territory, just below Syndergaard*, Dylan Bundy and just ahead of Jhoulys Chacin and Alex Wood.


Personally I think 3 x $12M to Leake is just fine to hold down a #4-5 slot the next three years, better than Miley and quadrants better than Yovanni Gallardo.  (Speaking objectively, a 100 ERA+ is a 3-4 starter in today's game.)  Cool that we deploy him the next month, with a bit of an AL novelty effect, and send the top-down message that --- > "We're all in this together.  Let's go make up those three games."


Dr D




Leake throws 180 innings a year and throws a bunch of ground balls.  There is value in that! 

He's a 4, over any number of years.

If resources are scarce, however, I am not sure I don't spend my $12M on bigger fish. 

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