Griffey, Felix, TV Money, Verducci Effect
Written by Brendan Gawlowski on January 22, 2013 @ 05:46PM      Jump To Comments

There was a lot of news today in Marinerland and Baseballworld, so I thought I'd make things easy and compile all the information in one place. First up, the Mariners have announced that they are inducting Ken Griffey Jr. into the team's Hall of Fame. Griffey's induction comes as no surprise as the former center-fielder is undoubtedly the most slam-dunk Mariner Hall of Famer of all time.* He will be honored Saturday August 10th against Milwaukee. It doesn't appear that the team will be putting his number (24) in the rafters yet, though queries on whether the number's inevitable retirement was being saved as a promotion for a rainy season down the road went unanswered because the Mariners (apparently) don't retire numbers until a player is eligible for the Hall of Fame .

*I do hold out hopes that the team will induct Alex Rodriguez when all the hoopla surrounding his career dies down a bit.

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Next, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mariners are talking about an extension with Felix Hernandez. Rosenthal notes that the two sides are early in the discussion process, and that $100 million might be the floor for the eventual contract amount.

My guess is, if Felix signs an extension, the announcement of a deal will come without much advanced warning. It's how Felix's last extension was announced and it's the pattern in which the Mariners usually do business.

Still, this is good news. Felix is just two years from free agency, and we're already at the point where the lack of time remaining on his deal has compromised the return package the M's can receive if they put their ace on the block. Not that they would, necessarily, but it's a reminder that Felix's bargaining power is improving by the day. Rumors of an extension have been conspicuous by their absence this off-season and it's nice to see that the two sides are at least talking.

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The Los Angeles Dodgers have officially signed their expected $6-7 billion television deal with Time Warner Cable. If they weren't already, the Dodgers are basically now the West's version of the New York Yankees. It's a particularly apt comparison in light of the news that Dodger games will be broadcast on the newly created Dodgers channel, a Napoleon on his hind legs moment if there ever was one.

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Lastly, Tom Verducci's annual "Year After Effect" examination came out today. If you've missed it in past years, Verducci's study, informally known as the Verducci Effect, is an attempt to show a link between young pitcher abuse and injury. Essentially, he red flags all of the pitchers under the age of twenty-five who threw at least thirty more innings in 2012 than they did in 2011, while also noting how many of the pitchers he flagged a year ago either underperformed or got hurt this season.

As has been documented extensively elsewhere, the Verducci Effect is misleading. Verducci's sample is inherently constrained to pitchers who have performed well recently. Thus, the fact that a number of them pitch worse the year following Verducci's scrutiny is A: to be expected, as regression to the mean is natural and B: impossible to directly attribute to the effects of over-work (which is what he is trying to prove). Moreover, the 30 innings limit is as arbitrary as it sounds: why not 20? 40? Why not use something that would more directly measure pitcher over-use, like pitches thrown as opposed to innings?

Ultimately, young pitchers are the riskiest asset in baseball. Good ones and bad ones get hurt all the time, and it isn't clear exactly why it happens. Numerous examinations have demonstrated that the Verducci Effect as it's defined doesn't exist and one even insinuated that the opposite effect was true. To be fair to Verducci, he says the Year After Effect is meant to be more of a rule of thumb than a prediction. Still, because the study is one of the more widely read examples of a scientific-like study in baseball (thanks to Verducci's large readership), the piece is bound to attract attention. Don't worry too much if one of your fantasy players is on the list: the Verducci Effect is misleading and the author's insistence on working it into an annual column is a practice that would be best retired.

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