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B.C. – Before (Aroldis) Chapman

Posted by Steve Lombardi on September 24, 2009

There's been a lot of talk lately about Cuban pitching prospect and free-agent-to-be Aroldis Chapman. So, I decided to ask Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index Pitching Game Finder to show me the big careers, since 1983, of pitchers who were born in Cuba. (I picked 1983 to make the list "After Luis Tiant.") Here's the results:

  Cnt Player            **ERA+**   IP   From  To   Ages   G   GS  CG SHO  GF  W   L   W-L%  SV   H    R   ER   BB   SO    ERA   HR   BF  IBB HBP  BK  WP Teams         BA   OBP   SLG   OPS  OPS+  SH  SF  2B  3B GDP  SB   CS  Pk Birthplace
+----+-----------------+--------+------+----+----+-----+----+---+---+---+---+---+---+-----+---+----+----+----+----+----+------+---+-----+---+---+---+---+-----------+-----+-----+-----+-----+----+---+---+---+---+---+----+---+---+---------------+
    1 Alberto Castillo     128     35.1 2008 2009 32-33   44   0   0   0   8   1   0 1.000   0   38   15   14   14   28   3.57   3   162   1   8   0   1 BAL          .271  .370  .386  .756  168   0   0   7   0   3    2   1   1 Havana City, Cuba 
    2 Danys Baez           110    609.2 2001 2009 23-31  449  26   1   0 247  35  49  .417 114  554  307  275  252  458   4.06  60  2623  24  44   3  22 CLE-TBD-TOT-BAL  .243  .327  .378  .705  111  24  20 116   7  54   47  16   1 Pinar Del Rio, Cuba 
    3 Tony Fossas          110    415.2 1988 1999 30-41  567   0   0   0 149  17  24  .415   7  434  211  180  180  324   3.90  39  1842  36  10   4  11 TEX-MIL-BOS-STL-TOT-NYY  .269  .344  .396  .740   99  27   9  73   8  42   30  13   2 Havana, Cuba    
    4 Orlando Hernandez    110   1314.2 1998 2007 32-41  219 211   9   2   2  90  65  .581   2 1181  641  604  479 1086   4.13 177  5558  18  67   7  27 NYY-CHW-TOT-NYM  .239  .312  .409  .721   87  31  42 248  30  62  136  52   5 Villa Clara, Cuba 
    5 Rolando Arrojo       108    700   1998 2002 29-33  158 105   4   2  15  40  42  .488   6  715  377  354  255  512   4.55  83  3040  15  67   3  13 TBD-TOT-BOS  .267  .344  .430  .774   95  24  18 142  22  72   49  25   5 Havana, Cuba    
    6 Jose Contreras       100   1076.1 2003 2009 31-37  186 175   5   3   4  71  63  .530   0 1084  616  554  390  792   4.63 123  4677  12  56   2  72 NYY-TOT-CHW  .295  .374  .407  .781  103  24  29 169  21  72  126  26   5 Havana, Cuba    
    7 Rene Arocha           99    331   1993 1997 27-31  124  36   2   1  40  18  17  .514  11  363  169  151   75  190   4.11  37  1404  12  11   1   7 STL-SFG      .282  .325  .445  .770  109  22   9  72  13  28   26  19   0 Havana, Cuba    
    8 Ariel Prieto          96    352.1 1995 2001 25-31   70  60   3   0   5  15  24  .385   0  407  218  190  176  231   4.85  34  1607   7  20   4  17 OAK-TBD      .294  .378  .439  .817  112  13  12  67  16  40   34  14   2 Havana, Cuba    
    9 Livan Hernandez       96   2722   1996 2009 21-34  411 410  47   7   0 155 151  .507   0 3011 1441 1345  938 1711   4.45 315 11822  71  68  12  35 FLA-TOT-SFG-MON-WSN-TOT-ARI  .285  .344  .439  .783  123 138  99 547  70 259  145  82  24 Villa Clara, Cuba 
   10 Vladimir Nunez        89    442   1998 2009 23-34  254  27   0   0  91  21  34  .382  21  430  264  237  199  327   4.83  55  1924  19  13   3  22 ARI-TOT-FLA-COL-ATL  .259  .338  .429  .767  104  22  31  93  12  30   39  19   8 Havana, Cuba    
   11 Hansel Izquierdo      89     29.2 2002 2002 25-25   20   2   0   0   5   2   0 1.000   0   33   17   15   21   20   4.55   2   144   3   5   0   0 FLA          .289  .413  .456  .869  138   1   3  11   1   5    1   1   0 Havana, Cuba    
   12 Osvaldo Fernandez     87    387   1996 2001 27-32   76  67   3   0   3  19  26  .422   0  439  229  212  136  208   4.93  43  1709  11  12   4   9 SFG-CIN      .287  .348  .445  .793  111  21  12 100   6  43   13  16   7 Holguin, Cuba   
   13 Michael Tejera        80    238.1 1999 2005 22-28  111  27   0   0  15  11  13  .458   3  256  140  136  111  172   5.14  26  1060   6  10   0   4 FLA-TOT-TEX  .278  .360  .434  .794  114  13   5  58   4  21    9  10   6 Havana, Cuba    
   14 Tony Menendez         80     29   1992 1994 27-29   23   0   0   0   6   3   1  .750   0   29   17   16    6   20   4.97   7   119   0   1   0   0 CIN-PIT-SFG  .264  .305  .518  .823  124   1   1   5   1   2    1   1   0 Havana, Cuba    
   15 Israel Sanchez        74     45.1 1988 1990 24-26   30   1   0   0   9   3   2  .600   1   52   29   27   21   19   5.36   1   204   2   1   1   3 KCR          .292  .366  .348  .714  101   2   2   7   0   5    3   1   1 Falcon Lasvias, Cuba 
   16 Alay Soler            73     45   2006 2006 26-26    8   8   1   1   0   2   3  .400   0   50   33   30   21   23   6.00   7   208   1   1   0   3 NYM          .275  .350  .478  .828  117   2   2  12   2   1    5   0   0 Pinar del Rio, Cuba 
   17 Adrian Hernandez      68     44   2001 2004 26-29   14   5   0   0   3   0   6  .000   0   45   36   32   30   33   6.55  10   209   1   2   0   8 NYY-MIL      .257  .370  .474  .844  121   1   1   8   0   2    1   4   1 Havana, Cuba    
   18 Eddie Oropesa         61     92   2001 2004 29-32  125   0   0   0  22   8   4  .667   0   99   79   75   72   78   7.34  11   444  11   4   2   6 PHI-ARI-SDP  .274  .400  .416  .816  114   6   1  12   3   6    6   4   1 Colen Matanzas, Cuba 
   19 Francisley Bueno      55      2.1 2008 2008 27-27    1   0   0   0   0   0   0         0    5    2    2    1    1   7.71   1    13   0   0   0   0 ATL          .417  .462  .667 1.129  202   0   0   0   0   0    0   0   0 Havana, Cuba    
   20 Yoslan Herrera        42     18.1 2008 2008 27-27    5   5   0   0   0   1   1  .500   0   35   20   20   12   10   9.82   1   100   0   1   0   1 PIT          .427  .495  .573 1.068  190   3   2   7   1   3    1   0   0 Pinar Del Rio, Cuba 
   21 Jose Canseco          15      1   1993 1993 28-28    1   0   0   0   1   0   0         0    2    3    3    3    0  27.00   0     8   0   0   0   0 TEX          .500  .625  .500 1.125  213   0   1   0   0   0    0   0   0 Havana, Cuba    

Yeah, I see Jose Canseco sneaking in there at the end. But, I also see a lot of pitchers with so-so major league careers. Just some food for thought for those big league teams bidding on Chapman...what works in Cuba sometimes doesn't do as well in a MLB park near you...

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 1:42 pm and is filed under Game Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

5 Responses to “B.C. – Before (Aroldis) Chapman”

  1. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    I'm not sure what conclusions we can draw from this. I think the sample is too small. A lot of these guys were old by the time they got here. Livan Hernandez has had a solid career. El Duque was a very good pitcher. I am sure Contreras is older than listed; despite maddening inconsistency he had some stretches of excellent pitching. Soler and El Duquecito are probably the only real busts. Arocha and Prieto were considered major disappointments but their performance wasn't terrible. I don't even recognize a lot of these names, so I don't think they had high expectations. I wonder if this list looks all that different than one of pitchers born in Ohio over the same period?

    OK, I actually looked it up. Ohio is about the same population as Cuba but has 6 times as many pitchers, one of them being Roger Clemens. The weighted average of their ERA+ is 104, Cuba's has been 99. (Not the best way of comparing them, but quick & easy.)

    I saw Chapman during the WBC, and he sure has some arm.

  2. DoubleDiamond Says:

    I just made good use of the Search box to look up a nickname. Maybe it's because I intentionally don't pay close attention to the Yankees, figuring I'm going to hear about their guys anyway, but the nickname "El Duquecito" didn't mean anything to me. Just in case any of you are wondering, typing "El Duquecito" into the Search box brings up the page for Adrian Hernandez, who is indeed near the bottom of the above list. Two of his three brief periods of winless major league service were spent with the Yankees, which the third one was with the Brewers.

  3. JohnnyTwisto Says:

    Yeah, I shouldn't have been so colloquial. Adrian Hernandez was coming up in the Yankees system when Orlando Hernandez was in their rotation. Same homeland, same surname, so he got the similar nickname. They don't look anything alike and I'm pretty sure they are not related. It's possible he was only hyped up around NY _because_ of the nickname, and the baseball world at large never thought he was much of a prospect. His great claim to fame was bowing out of a start with a stomach ailment in 2002, leaving Clemens to start on 3 days' rest and preventing El Duquecito from ever earning his team's respect.

  4. I was still living in Cleveland back in '99 when they signed Danys Baez so I remember the hype surrounding him. He was a young fireballer and supposedly had a large upside. In his first season in '01 he was basically unhittable. Then the Indians tried to turn him into a starter and he flopped. Then they sent him back to the bullpen (with a brief stint as closer) and he improved a bit, but was still below expectations. They shipped him off to Tampa Bay where he had a mini come-back before falling apart again. I saw him pitch for Baltimore earlier this year and he looked ok; not great, not bad. So by ERA+ he may look like the 2nd best pitcher in the group, but he never had near the consistency of say El Duque, and he fell well short of the hype.

  5. I remember thinking Baez was promising as a starter and I thought he should have been left in the rotation. Checking his 2002 numbers, they seem solid. Not sure why you classify it as a flop. But it's true he never lived up to the hype.