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  1. but Millwood epitomized the “take-the-ball-every-fifth-day-and-compete” role

    I’m glad that you said this and not just because it was what I was thinking.

    Athletes are a very arrogant and prideful bunch. I say that as one. You kind of have to be like that, otherwise the game swallows you up and/or you tend to underachieve.

    There are some athletes that after such early success would have been “too good” to just be a “take the ball and compete” type of pitcher.

    In terms of stuff, Millwood is more “Jeff Suppan” than “Mike Mussina”.

    Christ, he was a MLB starter for 16 years and averaged ~90mph on his fastball. Good on him.

    The guy had a 50 WAR career. If he underachieved then that means his likely “expectation” was ‘Hall of Famer’. Not realistic.

    His career was very good for an 11th round draft pick. Baseball is literally littered with RHP’s that throw 90-91, most never make it out of the minors. Millwood excelled for 16 years.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 5, 2013 @ 11:11 am

  2. Maybe I’ve been around Fangraphs too long, but I never really considered him to be an underachiever. His was a consistent and effective game, though never a gaudy one.

    I think on the times he had to front a rotation (as he did in Baltimore). He was not an ace even though he was handed the role. Still, he played his game and he kept things steady, never really getting ahead of himself or letting the pressure alter his approach. I say he’s the bread and butter of any good starting rotation.

    Comment by shibboleth — February 5, 2013 @ 11:24 am

  3. Baseball Reference has him at 25.9 WAR (26.8 if you exclude hitting), Fangraphs at 49.4. That’s a hell of a difference.

    Comment by Mel — February 5, 2013 @ 11:38 am

  4. Millwood came up when everyone was still thinking the Braves would produce another pitcher like Glavine, Smoltz, or even Maddux which was crazy because they didn’t produce him. Once he had a little success, it seemed destined that he would be at least an perennial all star. As a young Braves fan, I was shocked and pissed that they traded him. While it is still a head scratcher, it is not nearly as awful if you assume the Braves knew that he was really a mid to back end of the rotation guy by that point.

    Comment by TKDC — February 5, 2013 @ 11:41 am

  5. Though now that I look at his stats, it appears he had a few more seasons as a 2-3 type pitcher. At the end of the day, at least we weren’t trading the next John Smoltz for Johnny Estrada.

    Comment by TKDC — February 5, 2013 @ 11:44 am

  6. He was hamburger.. Not flashy, but its pretty good on a regular basis.. He wasn’t flashy and fancy like steak. Not that high end. (nor was he week old meatloaf leftovers either)

    Comment by Cidron — February 5, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  7. the presence of Javy Lopez made that deal especially confusing.

    Comment by Michael Barr — February 5, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  8. Just a guess in super simplified terms…

    Is Fangraph’s WAR based on what should have happened (FIP, xFIP, etc) and B-R’s WAR based on what did happened (ERA)? It seems like B-R’s numbers trend much closer with ERA and are taking away a significant amount of value in seasons where his ERA was a lot worse than his FIP.

    Comment by Huisj — February 5, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

  9. I’m not very familiar with the b-ref pitcher WAR calculation, but I thought it was similar to fangraphs RA9 WAR. Does anyone know what is causing the huge discrepancy between the rWAR and RA9 fWAR?

    Comment by Joseph — February 5, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

  10. I think Millwood’s 2003 is illustrative of the difference between Fangraphs and BRs stats. In 2003 Millwood pitched 222 innings with a roughly league average ERA. His FIP however, was 16% better than league average. BR says this workhouse with a league average ERA is a 2 WAR player, while Fangraphs says this above average workhorse is worth 4.5 WAR.

    Comment by Krog — February 5, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

  11. As I understand it BBREF places very little value on innings pitched, where fWAR places quite a large amount of value on it.

    Comment by Oh, Beepy — February 5, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

  12. A nice career that paid him almost $100 million bucks. Undervalued??

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — February 5, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

  13. Since no one mentioned salaries in this discussion, I think it likely that in this case “undervalued” is a synonym for “underappreciated”.

    Comment by Nickname Damur — February 5, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

  14. Little known fact: Appelman and Cameron use a modified ouija board to determine WAR values.

    Comment by David G — February 5, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  15. If you honestly think “Pettitte is pretty obviously the superior starting pitcher, but you won’t see many narratives about him not meeting expectations” is an accurate statement, you obviously haven’t paid much attention to the coverage of Andy Pettitte.

    Pettitte is — at least to people of my generation, who grew up as Yankee fans in the late ’80′s and early ’90′s — definitely known as a “what might have been” pitcher who utterly failed to live up to expectations. In 1996, he finished second in the Cy Young voting, and most Yankee fans thought (wrongly, in retrospect) he was robbed by Pat Hentgen. In the 1997 offseason, when the Mariners were shopping Randy Johnson, the Yankees could have had him if they’d been willing to give up Andy Pettitte — but Bob Watson refused, believing that even though Randy Johnson was a no-questions-asked number 1, all time great ace starter, Andy Pettitte had a brighter future.

    As a Yankee fan who first seriously started following the team in the late ’80′s, I can tell you that for the first few years of his career, Andy Pettitte was completely expected to become greater than Whitey Ford as the best Yankee starting pitcher of all time — a guy who was perennially in the Cy Young hunt, and always one of the two or three best starting pitchers in baseball. Basically, we expected Andy Pettitte to be every bit as great a starting pitcher as Derek Jeter was a shortstop.

    Basically, the expectation was that Pettitte would turn into the next Warren Spahn or Eddie Plank. Instead, he turned into the next Herb Pennock. Plenty of Yankee fans of my generation are bitterly disappointed in where Pettitte’s career took him.

    Comment by Jim — February 5, 2013 @ 2:46 pm

  16. Average them and call him a ~40 WAR pitcher. Still pretty darn good for an 11th round draft pick.

    If anything, he over-achieved some (or a lot).

    Seriously, anybody ever wowed by Millwood’s stuff?

    Comment by CircleChange11 — February 5, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

  17. There’s a difference between “not meeting expectations” set by fans who overhype their own prospects, and “not meeting expectations” based on what the baseball world considers your potential to be. Every team has players who “don’t meet expectations,” but this article is based on the idea of players who have a more widely known reputation for “what could have been.” The fact that Yankeee fans consider Pettitte a failure while the rest of the baseball world considers him pretty darn successful just means that Yankee fans have unrealistic expectations of their own players.

    Comment by ssj316 — February 5, 2013 @ 8:26 pm

  18. i’m all for using FIP to evaluate pitchers, but when a guy has closer to 3000 than 2000 innings, it’s pretty safe to just use ERA

    Comment by jim — February 5, 2013 @ 8:48 pm

  19. i would say that RA9-wins are the best way to evaluate the balance of his career, and he comes in with 46

    Comment by jim — February 5, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  20. Kevin Millwood’s no-hitter was the only one I’ve seen in person, so he will always have a special place in this fan’s heart (as will Ricky Ledee).

    So long Kevin, and thanks for the memories!

    Comment by ramsey — February 6, 2013 @ 10:25 am

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