|Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Career Value||About the author, Boyd Nation|
Publication Date: April 18, 2006
The recent announcement of the nominees for the first class in the College Baseball Hall of Fame got me to thinking -- we don't spend a whole lot of time talking about career value in the college game. The reasons for that are fairly straightforward; college careers are fairly short to start with, they're shortened more because the best players tend to leave after their junior years, and the 18-21 years are so big developmentally that freshmen tend to have limited impact. Nonetheless, if you're talking about something like a Hall of Fame, you don't want to let it become just a list of the best seasons, so it's worth thinking about career value and what it means.
With that in mind, I thought I'd look at the convenient four-year period for which we actually have good college stats -- 2002-2005 -- and see what we might be able to glean. This obviously doesn't directly provide any information for the HoF voters, but it might provide some indirect value by giving some insight into what shape the most valuable careers fall into.
I didn't use a single metric to put these together but rather pulled from a combination of raw stats, one of the versions of the runs created metric, and some of what Bill James used to call black and gray ink -- where the player fell on the national leaderboards. With that in mind, here's one guy's opinion on the top 10 college careers that fell between 2002 and 2005.
10. Ryan Braun, Miami, Florida. Hit for average, walked enough, had decent power -- Braun was one of the five best pure hitters of the last few years. One of the things that works in his favor is a really strong freshman year:
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2003 .364 .446 .665 242 17 2004 .335 .439 .606 155 10 2005 .388 .471 .726 219 18
9. Mike Costanzo, Coastal Carolina. Here's a name that surprised me but kept coming up. Costanzo, another three-year player, did not have as strong a freshman year as Braun but had a better sophomore year (Braun was injured for part of 2004), so it may be that two strong years and one above-average year are enough to at least get you on the bottom of this list.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2003 .318 .374 .509 173 8 2004 .359 .479 .740 231 21 2005 .379 .525 .658 240 16
8. Jeff Larish, Arizona State. Here's our only four-year player. Larish suffered through a sub-par junior year and returned for his senior year, hoping to improve his draft status. That's a mixed blessing, but it did provide actual value to the Sun Devils, and I don't think concerns outside the game should be part of this decision.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2002 .328 .447 .477 128 3 2003 .372 .528 .697 234 18 2004 .308 .396 .468 237 7 2005 .324 .457 .680 250 23
7. Jered Weaver, Long Beach State. Surprisingly enough, there are only two full-time pitchers to make the list, even though in a given season the numbers are about even or slightly favor the pitchers. My working theory is that freshman pitchers are much less likely to make an impact, and the ones that do are more likely to lose time to injury along the way.
YEAR ERA IP SO 2002 4.37 92.2 74 2003 1.96 133.1 144 2004 1.62 144.0 213
6. Ryan Patterson, Louisiana State. Another solid hitter who managed to contribute as a freshman. Patterson suffered less of a sophomore slump than Braun or Costanzo, which helps him up here. You'll note that all our hitters so far are from the weak end of the defensive spectrum -- one interesting thing that I've found is that most of the stronger defenders don't start hitting until later in their college careers, so again career value is relatively less than season value.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2003 .350 .387 .616 263 16 2004 .341 .383 .577 293 14 2005 .369 .448 .719 249 20
5. Jed Lowrie, Stanford. Positional adjustments start to kick in here, as we start to find middle infielders who hit like the big boys. Strength of schedule helps Lowrie a lot. It's odd that we end up with two second basemen on the list, since that goes against the usual trend.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2003 .292 .349 .349 212 0 2004 .399 .505 .734 233 17 2005 .317 .416 .594 224 14
4. Rickie Weeks, Southern. Once I gain full four-dimensional control of the universe, one of the neater experiments I'll run is to drop Weeks into an SEC lineup for the 2003 season and see what happens. There's just so much uncertainty in the kind of translations that you have to make when you have what look like Little League stats compiled against really weak competition. The placement here is my best guess, though. Bear in mind that this actually misses Weeks' 2001 freshman season, which points out that it's actually possible for a two-year career to be more valuable than a longer one.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2002 .497 .578 1.000 195 20 2003 .483 .607 .948 172 17
3. Stephen Head, Mississippi. Two-way players are useful enough, in that they free up a scholarship portion you can give to someone else, but when you evaluate them you usually find that two little's don't add up to a lot. In Head's case, though, he had two smallish lot's, and that added up well.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2003 .337 .385 .490 208 6 2004 .346 .419 .583 228 13 2005 .331 .403 .596 272 18 YEAR ERA IP SO 2003 1.40 57.2 43 2004 2.82 70.1 56 2005 2.54 85.0 77
2. Stephen Drew, Florida State. Hit .344 and walk 45 times while playing shortstop, and you, too, can be rich and famous. Drew's 2002 is probably the best freshman year in my memory.
Year AVG OBP SLG AB HR 2002 .402 .457 .750 204 16 2003 .327 .435 .582 263 11 2004 .344 .458 .692 227 17
1. Mike Pelfrey, Wichita State. You know, if you had asked me before I started looking at the numbers who would end up on top of the list, I'm pretty sure I would have gone through at least 100 players before I guessed Pelfrey, simply because there was never a year when I thought he was the best pitcher in the country. I'm still fairly sure that's true, which is why it's worth looking at career value instead of just collecting season thoughts. It turns out that top-flight years by pitchers are hard enough to find that putting three of them together (Pelfrey was probably one of the five best in the country for three straight years) is incredibly valuable, and that puts Pelfrey at the top.
YEAR ERA IP SO 2003 2.49 104.2 98 2004 2.18 115.1 125 2005 1.93 139.1 143
So, is there any guidance to be found? Well, modern players who stay for four years seem to be likely to still provide less value than three-year players. Middle infielders are to be treasured. Pitchers are less likely to manage sustained value but can be incredibly valuable when they do.
This means absolutely nothing, ignore it.
This is one generic layman's predictions for who gets in the tournament. I'm not going to bother picking a team from the one-bid conferences, since the conference tournament will just be a crapshoot, but if I only list one team from a conference, they'll get an at large bid if they don't get the automatic bid.
America East Clemson Purdue Alabama Atlantic 10 Georgia Tech Cal State Fullerton Georgia Atlantic Sun Florida State UC Irvine South Carolina Horizon North Carolina Long Beach State Arkansas Ivy North Carolina State Rice Mississippi State MAAC Wake Forest Houston Florida MAC Miami, Florida East Carolina Mississippi MEAC Virginia Southern Mississippi Louisiana State Mid-Continent Nebraska Tulane Vanderbilt Mountain West Texas Old Dominion College of Charleston MVC Oklahoma Arizona State Elon NEC Baylor UCLA Troy OVC Kansas Southern California Louisiana Tech Patriot Notre Dame Stanford Hawaii Southland St. John's Oregon State San Diego SWAC Winthrop Washington Pepperdine
Pitch Count Watch
Rather than keep returning to the subject of pitch counts and pitcher usage in general too often for my main theme, I'm just going to run a standard feature down here where I point out potential problems; feel free to stop reading above this if the subject doesn't interest you. This will just be a quick listing of questionable starts that have caught my eye -- the general threshold for listing is 120 actual pitches or 130 estimated, although short rest will also get a pitcher listed if I catch it. Don't blame me; I'm just the messenger.
|4/09||Louisiana State||Derik Olvey||Tennessee||8.2||11||2||2||1||9||37||38||151|
|4/14||Louisiana State||Louis Coleman||Alabama||8.2||9||6||5||5||4||34||40||138|
|4/14||Brigham Young||Jesse Craig||Washington||9.0||9||2||2||3||7||34||37||131(*)|
|4/14||North Carolina-Greensboro||Nick Starnes||Davidson||7.2||7||3||2||1||12||29||30||122|
|4/14||Louisiana-Lafayette||Hunter Moody||New Orleans||9.0||8||2||1||4||8||33||37||133|
|4/14||Stephen F. Austin State||Brian Steinocher||Northwestern State||9.0||8||4||4||2||11||34||38||139(*)|
|4/14||McNeese State||Drek Blacksher||Texas-Arlington||9.0||5||3||3||1||10||32||33||128|
|4/14||Western Kentucky||Liam Shanahan||Middle Tennessee State||7.2||9||6||6||3||8||33||37||133(*)|
|4/14||Winthrop||Heath Rollins||North Carolina-Asheville||8.2||10||4||4||2||14||36||39||148(*)|
|4/15||Birmingham-Southern||David Horne||Coastal Carolina||6.0||9||2||2||3||7||25||28||125|
|4/15||East Tennessee State||Jeremy Hall||Mercer||6.0||11||4||4||4||8||26||31||122|
|4/15||Norfolk State||De'mece Williams||Bethune-Cookman||9.0||6||2||2||4||6||31||35||136|
|4/15||North Carolina A&T||Michael Hauff||Maryland-Eastern Shore||8.0||10||7||7||3||10||34||40||146(*)|
|4/15||Virginia Military||Trey Barham||Radford||7.2||4||3||2||1||10||31||32||128|
|4/15||Texas-Arlington||Dillon Gee||McNeese State||7.0||9||5||5||3||6||29||32||127|
|4/15||Coastal Carolina||Austin Fleet||Birmingham-Southern||8.0||5||5||4||2||10||28||31||122|
|4/15||Northern Illinois||Trevor Feeney||Miami, Ohio||6.2||7||3||3||3||5||23||29||127|
|4/15||Oklahoma State||Brae Wright||Kansas||8.1||11||7||7||1||6||35||37||129|
|4/15||Louisiana-Lafayette||Buddy Glass||New Orleans||9.0||2||2||2||5||10||27||34||134|
|4/15||Old Dominion||Jason Godin||Northeastern||9.0||7||0||0||0||18||35||35||140(*)|
|4/15||Central Florida||Mitch Houck||Tulane||7.2||4||2||2||6||9||21||30||124|
|4/16||Norfolk State||Joseph Seal||Bethune-Cookman||8.0||7||4||3||7||8||28||35||141|
|4/16||North Carolina||Daniel Bard||Virginia Tech||7.0||5||4||0||5||5||26||32||123|
|4/17||Freed Hardeman||Josh Hester||Arkansas State||7.2||13||7||7||3||8||33||37||121|
|4/18||Virginia Tech||Nicky Bowers||Marshall||9.0||10||4||2||0||8||37||38||123|
|4/19||Fairleigh Dickinson||John Meadus||St. Peter's||9.0||9||5||4||6||6||32||41||148(*)|
|4/19||Norfolk State||Frankie Caldeyro||Old Dominion||7.0||10||7||4||5||5||32||37||132(*)|
The Olvey outing is an actual count replacing last week's estimate.
(*) Pitch count is estimated. As always, I welcome actual pitch count corrections.If you're interested in reprinting this or any other Boyd's World material for your publication or Web site, please read the reprint policy and contact me
|Boyd's World-> Breadcrumbs Back to Omaha-> Career Value||About the author, Boyd Nation|