Did the Texas Rangers Get Lucky Or Is It Just One of Those Things that Makes Baseball Fun

Lance Lynn won today’s only game, an MLB-best 12th win against MLB’s 3rd best team.  The three-year $30M deal the Rangers gave Lynn this past off-season looked like an over-pay, given that free agent contracts are down and Lynn had had to settle for a one-year $12M deal for 2018.

It’s probably safe to say that the 2018 deal was too stingy and the 2019-2021 deal was too generous, at least until Lynn pitched in 2019 like he was worth the whole $30M (fangraphs.com says he’s been worth $31.8M so far in 2019).  Lynn wasn’t great in 2018, at least until the Twins traded him to the Yankees, so the 2017-2018 off-season lack of interest seemed to be an accurate reflection of his likely future value.

It seems likely that teams have been overvaluing the draft pick loss that comes with the qualifying offer (which the Cards had extended Lynn), although free agent frugality always benefits the teams on average.  Free agents have been overvalued in terms of where MLB is currently; there isn’t much doubt of that.  MLB sorely needs another round of expansion to let the superstars stand out and to keep the oldsters starring for another season or three.

Teams don’t err by erring on the side of frugality with free agents.  Still, one of the things that keeps baseball interesting is that the future can’t accurately be predicted in all circumstance.  Sometimes the Lance Lynns of baseball will make the apparent overpays look like strokes of pure genius.

I don’t think the Rangers’ management really knew something nobody else did.  I suspect that Lynn’s great 2019 (so far) was a lot of good luck, possibly but not necessarily favored by some good forecasting.

All of that said, the Rangers still need to make the play-offs this season.  At age 32 this season and listed 6’5″ and 280 lbs, it’s hard to imagine that Lynn can continue to be great even only as far into the future as 2020 and 2021.  I will admit, however, that I never suspected that CC Sabathia, all 6’6″ and 300 lbs of him, could still be pitching effectively on the eve of his 39th birthday.  In my mind that’s nothing short of a modern-day baseball miracle.

Explore posts in the same categories: Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers

8 Comments on “Did the Texas Rangers Get Lucky Or Is It Just One of Those Things that Makes Baseball Fun”

  1. brgcorbett Says:

    Every once in a while an established veteran starter finds new success. Lance Lynn certainly tops the list this year. Already an above average starter before his injury problems, it’s nice to see him find it again. So yes, Texas lucked out on this one. As you pointed out it does not happen often.

    The Toronto Blue Jays serve as a case in point. Although not a whole lot of money was spent. The experiment had Clay Buchholz (35), Clayton Richard (36), and Matt Shoemaker (33) join the rotation not to mention the later addition of Edwin Jackson (36) Unfortunate irony had Shoemaker as the only light in this bunch and he suffers a freak season ending injury on an infield play. The chances that a mid-thirties+ starter can find glory seems to get slimmer in today’s market. Team Management are more likely than ever to bring along prospects at a lower front end cost than to take a chance on a veteran.

    The best example of a success story that comes to mind is Charlie Morton. Here’s a guy who pitched only one qualifying season in his first 12. Constantly in recovery from an endless series of injuries until Houston took a chance on him. Talk about a payoff for him as well as the team! In the last 3 years he’s gone 39-12, with an ERA of 3.08 and he will turn 36 before the end of the calendar year.

    I always thought CC’s knees would have given out long before now. That said, although he has enjoyed a long career I still don’t believe he is HOF worthy. I’m convinced that if he had not played for the Yankees, he would not get the nod. He benefits from the Lefty Gomez affect

    • Burly Says:

      I agree that playing for the NY Yankees, at least when the team is good, gives a player a huge boost when it comes to HOF consideration. Not just playing on winning teams, but also playing in the biggest media market for the big salaries. The NY media makes every Yankees and Mets star look like the best thing since sliced bread.

  2. brgcorbett Says:

    I’ve always liked the big guy. CC did his job. No fuss no muss. My concern is that the truly deserving by the real measures of individual contribution to a teams winning are passed over by the writers because they are not versed in the the true measures of performance, or worse they choose to stick with the old in spite of the best information available.

    Curt Schilling and Kevin Brown are examples of what happens when you don’t have the personality or sensibilities that Writer’s adore. Both of them deserve(d) better. Both had a ERA + of 127. Four points above the average of the very best in their era. Schilling has an avg WS per qualifying seasons of 6.0. Brown at 4.8 was average but better by far than Smoltz 4.2 and Glavine 3.7. Coincidentally enough Smoltz and Glavine played during the Braves dynasty years. Not that they weren’t significant contributors to that dynasty, however joined by one Greg Maddux, and the glory tends to cover all. Meanwhile Kevin Brown labors in the wilderness. His years spent with the Dodgers were before that teams resurgence.

    Again to your point on market, Dave Stieb is a prime example. Playing for the Blue Jays didn’t help his prospects. Not that he was a shoe in but he should have won the Cy Young in both 1982 and 1984 because he had a better record than Hernandez (not sure why Relievers are included in Cy Young voting?) and Vuckovich, one of the most egregious selections in voting history!

    Jack Morris is totted as the ‘pitcher of the 80’s’ …if you compare his line with Dennis Martinez here is what you get:
    W ERA+ WS Ttl WS/avg W/%
    Jack 254 105 222 581 3.0 .441
    Dennis 245 106 236 587 3.5 .453

    Now was Jack more ‘famous’ than Dennis,…of course he was.
    Just to finish off with Dave Stieb:

    Dave 176 122 212 510 4.9 .532

    Stieb did more to contribute to his team’s winning than Morris ever did with the Tigers (post season not with standing,…nor should it have standing because teams get into the post season not individual players) Stieb din’t play as long due to injury, so his accumulative totals, like wins are not as impressive. Does that mean that players who avoid injury get a bye?

    To summarize:

    Maybe the Hall Of Fame is what it is?… the hall of the famous and long lasting! and that’s fine as long as we don’t confuse it with the hall of the very best, that does a disservice to those who were/are in many cases more effective winners than those elected.

    End of rant on HOF

    My choices for the next expansion Montreal and Seattle

    • Burly Says:

      Any mention of Dave Stieb makes me thing of Steve Rogers, the ace of Canada’s other major league team the Montreal Expos. Rogers wasn’t a Hall of Fame talent, but he was a terrific pitcher who didn’t get the credit he deserved because he pitched in a small market in the wrong country.

      The Hall of Fame is definitely what it is. It’s in Cooperstown, New York based on the Abner Doubleday myth. It really ought to be in Hoboken, New Jersey, or at least somewhere in the greater NY metro area.

      I assume by Seattle, you actually mean Portland, for the next expansion. I have written on this subject, most recently here: https://notanotherbaseballblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/mlb-expansion/ As of February 2018, I liked Charlotte, San Antonio, Portland and Montreal, with Montreal, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and Mexico City as the dark horses.

  3. brgcorbett Says:

    Rogers had a slightly better record than Carlton in 1982 and should have received the Cy Young. But Lefty had the reputation, and Rogers played in Montreal.

    Could have been a Canadian year in 1982 with Rogers and Stieb!

    Yes, I meant Portland though I don’t see expansion anytime soon.

  4. brgcorbett Says:

    Lets focus on the Cy Young award winners, and in particular selections made since each league awarded their own. That was 52 years ago so 104 selections in total.

    Here is the breakdown from my research based on a sabermetric approach to awarding the most deserving candidate

    I figure that the voters got is right 61 times or 58.65%. That’s a disappointing outcome especially for the candidates, not to mention the fans.That leaves 43 instances where the ‘wrong’ guy got the award.

    On 9 occasions the award went to Closers. Now there are competing views as to whether they should even be eligible, and secondly, there is no realistic means to compare the contribution made by Closers vs Starters that I can see…

    That leaves 34 pick where a starter received the award over the more deserving peer.

    13 times they simply missed by one. In other words the ‘winner’ was selected over the more deserving.

    Now it gets bad…

    On 12 occasions the ‘winner’ was only the 3rd most deserving!

    On 5 occasions the ‘winner was only the 4th in line. In other words there were 3 fellow starters who had a measurably better record than who the voters selected.

    And now for the most egregious picks that if we didn’t know better some would think the Association of Baseball Writers of America were on the take!

    It’s a toss up to which selection was worse…

    In 1982 Pete Vuckovich was awarded the AL Cy Young. The leader in WAR that year was Dave Stieb. In fact he was 1.9 ahead (7.6) of his nearest rival in this category Rick Sutcliffe (5.7). Now the consensus around WAR is that if you are 5.0+ you are considered a potential All Star. Pete that year sported a 2.8 figure which is not much above replacement value (2.0) and would qualify as a 5th or maybe 4th starter in an average teams rotation. In fact he ranked 18th! in MVP voting! His ERA+ was ranked 15th! Aside from Stieb and Sutcliffe, Palmer and Dan Petry could be considered better candidates as well

    In 1990 Bob Welch was awarded the AL Cy Young. Again his WAR, like Vuckovich, was a lowly (2.9) Ironically enough his team mate Dave Stewart received 2 more MVP votes than Welch!,…go figure LOL. Not to mention That Clemens should have won outright that year followed by Chuck Finley, Stewart and Stieb

    Now we know that voters award the Cy Young on the basis of factors that don’t really have anything to do with the individual’s contribution to their team’s winning. The usual measures are total wins +Winning%, Most innings Pitched, Most Strike Outs, and the like…

    The good news is that there has not been a closer selected in 19 years and aside from the serious selection error of Porcello over Kluber in the 2016 AL voting and Dickey over Kershaw in the 2012 NL voting, the only other miss-steps writers have made in the past 16 years have been 6 selections of the ‘winner’ over the most deserving.

    Are things improving or just coincidence?

    • Burly Says:

      Cy Young voting has typically wildly over-valued won-loss record over everything else, at least up until about 20 years ago, since which W-L record has simply been overvalued. That may be expected, given that it is the “Cy Young” Award and not the “Walter Johnson” or “Lefty Grove” Award. Bob Welch’s 27 wins in 1990 was pretty impressive, even if the win total involved a whole lot of luck.

      One thing that I think it is important to keep in mind about sabermetric stats is that they are better at (and largely designed to be better at) predicting how players will play in the future than how they actually played in the past. In any given season, professional baseball is about results — how many wins a team records — than it is about anything else. Wins are largely a function of how many runs are scored on offense vs. how many runs are allowed on defense. If a pitcher was particularly good at preventing runs being scored in any particular year, even if what would appear to be a lot of luck was involved in evaluating after the fact, then he was a great pitcher in that year. By the same token, if Bob Welch won 27 against six losses in 1990, his performance was a reflection of the fact that he allowed fewer runs than the A’s scored in his starts, even if that involved a great deal of luck. Welch may not have really been that good in 1990, and he may not have been a good bet in the future as his subsequent stats clearly bear out, but I don’t think one can completely discount his 27-6 record that year either, since he clearly helped the A’s reach the World Series that particular year in a big way. None of his teammates would contest that his specific performance in the 27 games he won that year were terrific simply by virtue of the fact that he allowed fewer runs than the A’s scored during the innings in which he pitched.

      • brgcorbett Says:

        Eighteen years earlier Steve Carlton amassed the same win total.The difference being he was far and away the most effective starter in the league and by all measures of contribution he did more to help his team win than any other starter did to help theirs.

        Welch found himself on one of the most extraordinary teams of the day with a bull pen second to none. Aside from that Robert wasn’t even the most effective starter on his team. That honor goes to his Team mate Dave Stewart!

        As in my previous posts I have no problem with awards that recognize fame or superficial numbers. My issue is that it is dis-ingenious and does a dis-service to those who are truly deserving of being called the best at what they accomplished in a given season.

        Of course my view is nothing new. Truly knowledgeable fans have been harking for years to define the parameters used by the BBWAA to asses performance.

        Even if they took out the word ‘Best’ and replaced it with ‘noteworthy’ as an example. then one could fairly reconcile some of these wild picks!

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