April 27, 2012

Brandon Beachy is Not a Back-of-the-Rotation Starter

Wednesday night Matt Chernoff of 680 The Fan set off sort of a Twitter war with with his claim that Brandon Beach is a number four or a number five starter.

Some of Chernoff’s Tweets:

“how bout let him win double digit games 1st…”

“[70-74 Matt Cain] has won 70 games…Beachy has won what 10? Let [Beachy] put 1 big time season together before we say he is a top of a rotation guy”

“tell Verlander, Halladay and Kershaw wins don’t matter..”

Now I understand what Chernoff was trying to say…I think:  Beachy has only had one season of 25 starts in the majors.  So let’s wait another season or two before we call him one of the better pitchers in the game.

However Chernoff did call Beachy a four or a five, which was a poor choice of words for a few reasons.  First, it ignores Beachy’s skills.  Second, it assumes a player needs experience to be considered a very good major league player.  Third, Chernoff emphasized that he hasn’t won enough games to be considered a two or a three, relying heavily on wins to measure the quality of an individual pitcher.

I think Beachy is clearly a three, an upper-echelon number three, and might just be a number two.  This is because of Beachy’s skills right now.  Beachy misses bats (10.1 strikeouts per 9 innings in his career), he has pretty good control (3 walks per 9 innings) and he does a good enough job keeping the ball in the park (0.8 homeruns allowed per 9 innings).  What I mean by that is I believe Beachy could likely be a number three, possibly a number two, on most major league pitching staffs and could likely do it this year and the next several years.  In other words, he’s not just a guy who could be a two or a three for a season or two if everything breaks right.  He simply is a number two or three, without qualification.

While it is true that Beachy is inexperienced–this is only his 5th professional season and will be his second full major league season–it’s okay to call him something greater than a number four or a number five.  Overrating experience in baseball drives me crazy.  Yes, I understand that players need repetition to hone their craft.  But if a player is good enough, he’s good enough, no matter if he’s played 40 games or 400 games.  If a pitcher has the skills to be a number two or three and they are actualized, he’s a number two or three.  I hate it when teams don’t give deserving young players a chance because the players lack experience.  I hate it when a fan wants his team to go with a veteran because the stud rookie lacks experience.  Lack of experience should never be a primary reason for a team not playing a player.

I understand waiting a couple of years before claiming Beachy is a better pitcher than some established, clear-cut number two or number three.  But it’s okay to say Beachy is a number two or three right now.  And if you don’t want to say he’s a number two or three yet, I’m not sure you can claim he’s a number four or five.  He’s certainly better than that.  If we are forced to categorize, I think we have to say Beachy is a two or a three.

Chernoff’s most egregiously flawed argument supporting Beachy as a four or a five is that Beachy hasn’t won enough games in a season or in his career to be considered better than a four or a five.  We should all know better by now.  Beachy’s first full season with the Braves happened to coincide with their worst offensive season since 2002, when Julio Franco, Keith Lockhart and Vinny Castilla received regular playing time.  Run support cost him wins in his first and, so far, only full season in the majors.  He started only three games the season before and has made four starts this season.   So the bulk of his career starts came with a rather poor offense attempting to give him run support.

It is true that Beachy doesn’t typically go deep in to games.  However it’s fairly normal for a high-strikeout pitcher to throw a lot of pitches.  The Braves were not and are not going to leave him out there at ages 24-25 to throw 120-130 pitches.  Sure that’s going to cost him wins when the Braves take leads in the late innings.  In the four games in which Beachy started and got no decision but the Braves won, the Braves scored a grand total of six runs.  The offense is just as much to blame for Beachy not padding his win total as is Beachy leaving those games early.

Discussing where Beachy ranks among major league pitchers is one thing and taking a wait-and-see approach is one thing.  Making an assessment as to where he would belong in most major league rotations, now and for the next several years of his career, is a little different.  If most teams had a pitcher like Brandon Beachy, he certainly wouldn’t be slotted in to number four or five in their rotations.

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5 Responses to “Brandon Beachy is Not a Back-of-the-Rotation Starter”

  1. 1
    Shaun Says:

    So Chernoff blocked me and some other bloggers on Twitter who made known their disagreements with his statements about Beachy being a number four or number five.

    Odd that a sports-talk guy who can spew anything he wants for, what, three hours a day can’t handle disagreement with just one of his assessments. Actually it was probably more a disagreement with his choice of words than the point he was trying to make.

    I guess it’s natural for some of these guys to get defensive. Maybe they just aren’t used to it because the majority of fans are just going to assume the beat writer or the sports radio guy knows best, and they probably do in many ways. But I think a little back-and-forth gets us all closer to the truth and makes us all step up our games.

  2. 2
    ham Says:

    Shaun – Steve tweeted your story last night and referenced Chernoff, and Chernoff tweeted back “get a life”. (you probably saw this). It’s not only insulting that he said that, but also that it lacked any imagination or originality. Totally agree with the double standard/hypocrisy he wants to have. He’s something that rhymes with “swoosh hag”.

    Also, based on his logic, Strasburg is a 4 or 5. So was David Price. Dumb and obnoxious.

  3. 3
    Shaun Says:

    ham, yeah, I don’t mind someone being blunt bordering on harsh. A lot of us bloggers and that went at Chernoff were pretty harsh but we also brought logic and reason to the table. But “get a life” is sort of childish.

    I understand if you put your views out there, you are opening yourself up to criticism. How can he not know that? Responding in that way makes you look foolish.

    Honestly, this is why I don’t listen to a lot of talk radio for baseball news. Most of those guys have to focus on so many other sports that they really don’t know baseball like some of the other great folks in the media. Baseball is one of those sports where your eyes and the on-the-surface, basic stats will deceive you a lot of the time.

  4. 4
    Curt Says:

    To Ham’s point, what does he think about Minor? I watched a lot of Tom Glavine and John Smoltz in their rookies seasons – thank you $5 seats – and they struggled behind a really terrible team. Would Tom Glavine, with his approach to pitching, have been a 4 or 5?

    Stupid argument, and even worse response, by Chernoff.

  5. 5
    Shaun Says:

    I don’t think there is much doubt that Beachy would be a number two or three on most major league pitching staffs, and not just for a single season, if things go right for him. I’m no scouting expert but from what I understand this is the way most scouts assess starting pitchers. Would a pitcher be a number one, two, three, etc. for most teams in multiple seasons?

    Honestly I think Chernoff was just trying to say that it’s too early to say Beachy is one of the better pitchers in the game. I don’t know if I agree with that–I guess it depends on what he would mean by “greatest”–but I understand that viewpoint. However, saying fourth or fifth starter was ignorant. I’m not saying Chernoff is an ignorant man but just that that choice of words was ignorant of the way “fourth or fifth starter” is generally understood, within the industry and among hardcore fans. It’s isn’t about rating his Hall of Fame chances or something, which is probably the way sports-talk guys are used to assessing players.

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