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Javier Vazquez & Little Potato

Posted by Steve Lombardi on November 28, 2010

Playing around, and looking at post-1946 pitchers stats through year where they were age 35, where their career ERA+ during that time was between 100 and 106, and they had at least 2,600 IP but not more than 3,000 IP, and their K/BB ratio was at least 2.0, I found this pairing...

Query used found this:

Rk Player ERA+ IP W-L% SO BB From To Age G GS CG SHO GF W L SV H R ER ERA HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ SH SF 2B 3B GDP SB CS PO
1 Javier Vazquez 105 2647.1 .505 2374 713 1998 2010 22-34 418 411 26 7 5 152 149 0 2606 1340 1252 4.26 352 11137 50 86 4 71 MON-NYY-ARI-CHW-ATL .256 .308 .424 .732 91 95 60 532 60 188 97 53 14
2 Camilo Pascual 103 2893.1 .506 2139 1053 1954 1969 20-35 510 403 132 36 63 172 168 10 2674 1321 1171 3.64 254 12259 50 59 12 86 WSH-MIN-WSA-TOT .244 .312 .367 .679 93 122 66 418 83 233 161 84 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/28/2010.

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Pretty interesting comp here. Note how close they are in OPS+ allowed too. Like Vazquez' year last season, Camilo Pascual was really bad in 1969. I wonder if that's a sign that Javy is done - pretty much like the Little Potato was after his bad year?

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 28th, 2010 at 8:31 pm and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

24 Responses to “Javier Vazquez & Little Potato”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I was surprised to see Vazquez gave up under a hit per IP last season. He has the 8th highest ERA of any pitcher with at least 150 IP and fewer than a hit per IP.

  2. Here's Johnny's list:

    Rk Player ERA IP H/9 Year Age Tm Lg G GS CG SHO GF W L W-L% SV H R ER BB SO ERA+ HR BF AB 2B 3B IBB HBP SH SF GDP SB CS PO BK WP BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ Pit Str
    1 Mike Morrison 5.53 153.0 8.59 1890 23 TOT AA 21 18 16 1 3 7 11 .389 0 146 132 94 101 82 66 4 715 15 0 29
    2 Jose Contreras 5.50 170.1 8.77 2004 32 TOT AL 31 31 0 0 0 13 9 .591 0 166 114 104 84 150 84 31 758 657 27 3 1 8 3 6 8 29 11 2 0 17 .253 .342 .444 .786 104 2989 1767
    3 Bobby Witt 5.48 157.2 7.42 1986 22 TEX AL 31 31 0 0 0 11 9 .550 0 130 104 96 143 174 79 18 741 583 31 0 2 3 3 9 6 46 4 0 3 22 .223 .374 .369 .743 102
    4 Dick Drott 5.43 167.1 8.39 1958 21 CHC NL 39 31 4 0 3 7 11 .389 0 156 118 101 99 127 72 23 763 637 42 4 6 6 11 10 5 9 4 1 0 9 .245 .347 .432 .779 113
    5 Mike Moore 5.42 154.1 8.86 1994 34 DET AL 25 25 4 0 0 11 10 .524 0 152 97 93 89 62 90 27 679 579 36 2 8 3 4 4 17 21 10 1 0 10 .263 .361 .472 .833 112
    6 Jake Wade 5.39 165.1 8.71 1937 25 DET AL 33 25 7 1 4 7 10 .412 0 160 106 99 107 69 87 13 744 3 0 5
    7 Andy Hawkins 5.37 157.2 8.90 1990 30 NYY AL 28 26 2 1 1 5 12 .294 0 156 101 94 82 74 75 20 692 599 30 3 3 2 4 5 17 11 8 1 1 2 .260 .349 .421 .770 114
    8 Javier Vazquez 5.32 157.1 8.87 2010 34 NYY AL 31 26 0 0 4 10 10 .500 0 155 96 93 65 121 80 32 683 602 35 3 4 7 2 7 8 4 4 0 0 8 .257 .333 .485 .818 116 2704 1691
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
    Generated 11/28/2010.
  3. Despite the similarity in overall career numbers, Vasquez and Pascual had/have very different career arcs.

    Pascual's ERA+ by year:
    85
    65
    71
    94
    121
    149
    131
    123
    123
    149
    109
    107
    74
    96
    (everything after this was both very poor and very short seasons)

    For Vasquez:
    69
    90
    119
    130
    109
    139
    92
    101
    98
    126
    98
    143
    80

    Pascual's ERA+ looks like what we'd generally sketch out for a players career: shaky start, strong middle, late decline.
    Vasquez is very up and down with no discernible "pattern" or "arc".

    Maybe he'll follow Pascual, but the path of their careers indicates they may not be as similar as they appear at first glance.

  4. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Last spring, I had a dream that the Phillies and Yankees were playing a Game 7 in Philadelphia in the 2010 World Series, and the starting pitchers were Vazquez and Joe Blanton. It was the second inning, and Chase Utley had already homered to contribute to a Phillies lead.

    About the only thing that played out was that a Game 7 would have been in Philadelphia, thanks to the NL finally winning an All-Star Game. But if Vazquez and Blanton had been better pitchers this past year, maybe it would have gotten to this point.

  5. BSK, I welcome your feedback on my last comment/question posed to you posted on the 6000 PA thread.

  6. The Yankees never should have brough Vazquez back. His velocity was definitely down. Pascual was definitely at the end of the line in '69, but he was a much better pitcher than Vazquez ever was in his prime.

  7. @6, The trade made sense at the time. In Atlanta '09, his average fastball was more than 2.0 mph higher than it was in NY last season. His average almost never dipped below 90 prior to the most recent season, while his average fastball was rarely above 90 in '10. His velocity as a starter dipped even further later in the season, tanking in August, only ticking up when he was in the bullpen.

    Overall, he showed a significant dip. Not good timing when coupled with his move back to the A.L. He lost faith in his harder pitches, showing a significant decrease in fastball and sliders thrown, and an increase in change-ups and curveballs, resulting in more counts favorable to the hitter. We know the end result.

    For his prior run in the A.L. on the Sox, I had the opportunity to see him pitch fairly regularly for two out of his three seasons, as I lived in Chicago at that time for business. He was an innings-eater and a good, consistent pitcher, putting up 3.86, 3.80, and 3.74 FIPs. I don't think the New York Yankees were expecting a repeat of 2009 on the Braves, but it was reasonable to figure they'd get the Vazquez from his White Sox days. That would represent an excellent #4 starter, which was where he was slotted in the rotation. They’d also get a Type A amateur pick. As is, looks like they’ll still get a Type B.

    A move back to the DH-less N.L., and a bigger ballpark should help Vazquez. Rediscovering some fastball velocity will be a much bigger help. The unanswered question is did he lose velocity because of age and use, or was there some hidden injury. Fair or not, we have probably seen the last of Vazquez in the American League.

  8. JT & Raphy,

    I figured all of the pitchers on that list would have a lot of walks (knowing Bobby Witt would probably lead the way), but Vasquez had an equally surprising walk rate ("only" 65 BB in 150+ innings).

    Another note is that Vasquez really has an odd/even year thing going (just roughly averaging the yearly values of ERA+, since he has between 26 and 34 starts every season) - odd years 121.5 / even years 95.

    He has improved every single odd year from the previous year.

  9. Hey Mike-

    I had responded to that, but somehow deleted it before it got posted, and was too lazy/frustrated to retype it.

    Anyway, the situations I was talking about were more the exception than the rule. I didn't mean to imply that everyone who matures early maintains that heightened maturation. Some folks hit puberty early only to have their peers catch up. Others start late but then accelerate quickly. Some (not many, but some) actually age at a different pace than the rest of us, because of hormones. I had a roommate in college like this. In high school, he had hair all over his body and dominated athletics. Now, he's 26 and bald and has to work out twice as hard just to maintain. He was tested and he literally has the hormone levels of a 40-year-old.

    My hunch is that there might be players who have this condition and, coupled with exceptional athletic ability, follow very different career arcs than would be anticipated. My friend wasn't one of them. Pujols might be. Or maybe he lied about his age. Or something else. I don't know. I was simply positing a possibly. By no means was it the final word on Pujols' age.

  10. @3, BSK -- There is another trend. Once he had established himself as a quality MLB pitcher from 2000 forward, his down seasons, judged by the ones with an ERA+ below 100, all occurred in the A.L.

    In fairness to Javy, he was pitching fine in 2004 during his first tour through the A.L., even making the All-Star team, but rumor has it he was injured the second half. His splits that year were dramatic, with approximate 3.50 ERA the first half, and nearly 7.00 the second half. And on his most recent tour in 2010, he either was injured again, or may have simply hit the wall age- or use-wise, indicated by his loss in velocity.

    As I noted above, his three years on the White Sox might give a better reading, while also pointing out one of the issues I have with ERA+. It does not take into account defense, which impacts BABIP and FIP. His FIP was more consistent than his ERA in his three years in Chicago, coming in each season right about 3.80.

  11. I think Vazquez's inconsistency over the past few years and his reduced velocity on his fastball tells me he has a serious shoulder issue and at some point he will probably need a big surgery to correct it. That probably would be close to ending his career. He might have a big season again and then finally blow the shoulder out totally.

  12. @3, BSK -- There is another trend. Once he had established himself as a quality MLB pitcher from 2000 forward, his down seasons, judged by the ones with an ERA+ below 100, all occurred in the A.L.

    In fairness to Javy, he was pitching fine in the first half of 2004 during his first tour through the A.L., even making the All-Star team, but rumor has it he was injured the second half. Lending support, his splits that year were dramatic, with an approximate 3.50 ERA the first half, and nearly 7.00 the second half. And on his most recent tour in 2010, he either was injured again, or may have simply hit the wall age- or use-wise, indicated by his loss in velocity.

    As I noted above, his three years on the White Sox might give a better reading, while also pointing out one of the issues I have with ERA+. It does not take into account defense, which impacts BABIP and FIP. His FIP was more consistent than his ERA in his three years in Chicago, coming in each season right about 3.80.

  13. Apology on the double post. System issue.

  14. MikeD-

    Good point. Obviously, getting into the story behind the numbers, there is more than simply a long list of numbers. Well done.

    But, isn't ERA+ adjusted for the league? Or no?

  15. BSK -- Yes, ERA+ does adjust to the ERA of the pitcher's league, although ERA+ doesn't take into account things such as FIP. So in the 2006 and 2008 seasons when he had a 4.70 ERA in the A.L., but with a 3.80 FIP, his "true" ERA+ might have been in the 120 range, similar to his 2007 season when his ERA and FIP both came in around 3.70. So I'm supporting the notion that, at least during his White Sox days, Vazquez did pitch better in the A.L. than some people believe.

    That all said, in addition to the fact the ERA+ doesn't account for fielding, I'm not at all sure it's that useful in determining how a pitcher from one league will do against the competition in another. It's a nice starting point, but I always look beyond ERA+.

  16. @15, One of the stat sites did a study on pitchers moving between leagues over the past twenty years, and the ERA+ of NLers moving to the AL did suffer, meaning they collectively decreased, compared to ALers, whose ERA+ increased moving to the NL. That does suggest that ERA+ does not do as good a job as hoped when adjusting for league.

    It might be the depth in the leagues. If you follow the likes of Keith Law, who reguarly interviews talent evaluators, he believes the weaker NL teams are considered much weaker than their equivalents in the AL. Not all pitchers moving from the NL to the AL might react the same to the increased depth and that may not be reflected in ERA+. Don't know. Just a guess.

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That does suggest that ERA+ does not do as good a job as hoped when adjusting for league.

    ERA+ is not trying to adjust for league strength.

  18. JT-

    It simply adjusts for the run scoring environment, yes?

    So, all other things being equal, a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA in the AL with an average ERA of 5.00 would have a 125 ERA+ while a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA in the NL with an average ERA of 4.00 would have a 100 ERA+, yes?

  19. MikeD -- In case you never saw my apology on the AL MVP thread, here it is again:

    I apologize. Everything you said there is right, and I'm sorry. Mine was a dumb, knee-jerk post ... and to top it all off, you were 100% right about the MVP voters from Toronto, Detroit and Texas. Bad day all around for me.

    (Sorry to everyone for using this public space for a private purpose.)

  20. @6 -- "The trade made sense at the time."

    I'm probably as big a Javy Vazquez fan as there is outside his own family, but I thought his return was doomed from the outset. His main weak point is a high HR rate, and Yankee Stadium II seemed like a park where he would give up a lot of HRs -- and he did, witih (gulp!) 18 gopher balls in 66.1 IP. And it was hard to imagine Yankee fans giving him the benefit of the doubt this time around; after getting torched on the road in his first 2010 start, he was booed at home in his next start, despite a decent outing. I wanted it to work out, but I don't think many Yankee fans did.

    If there ever is a Round 3 for Javy & the Yanks, I hope it's an odd-numbered year.

  21. Johnny Twisto Says:

    BSK, correct. (Plus a park adjustment, which I assume you know.)

  22. John Autin, @19 -- Thanks. No worries and no issue on my side. I'm a regular reader and contributor here at B-R, so I've read your posts and know you're well-researched and very measured in your responses. That's why I was little surprised that we disagreed in this one area. I admit, in an attempt to discredit the original poster's note, I probably went a little far in trying to show that the NY writers were more fair than he was giving them credit for, so I may have accidently presented an image that reporters outside NY were more biased. That was definitely not my intention.

    I certainly don't question any Texas writer for selecting Hamilton, since I believe that Hamilton should have been the MVP. I also don't really have an issue with any Detroit writer picking Cabrera, who had an excellent season. They might be a little more biased since they saw Cabrera every day, but he is still a fine choice. I was simply attempting to show that the NY writers were not as biased as he was claiming.

    Even at that exchange or notes, I suspected we actually agreed with each other!

  23. i enjoy exactly how you receive your level throughout

  24. JT-

    Of course. Hence the always ridiculous "all things being equal". Good to know I'm (slowly but surely) getting it.