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  1. Very interesting stuff. The first number I look at when I see an impressive batting or pitching line is that players age. It is important. It’s why I still have hope for a few struggling prospects of my favorite team.

    One thing you didn’t mention though was relief pitchers. What if one of those players faced a pitcher only once or twice in a blowout? And then faced a no-name relief pitcher for four innings of mop-up duty?

    Comment by Kenny — May 25, 2010 @ 11:25 am

  2. I do recognize that in the article, and it does limit what we can specifically take from the histograms above. I really just wanted to show what we might be able to do soon. If we account for the age of every pitcher that a batter posts a PA against, we could really get some interesting revelations on Age Relative to Competition, methinks.

    But that was just too much legwork for an idle Tuesday article. More of an offseason piece.

    Comment by Bryan Smith — May 25, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  3. Don’t you need to (along the way) show that age is proportional to skill? Maybe this has already been studied. It seems it would be so on one intuitive level — but at the same time, isn’t a 24-y.o. pitcher still in A ball b/c he’s not that good?

    Because if skill for A ball players is distributed evenly regardless of age, then all the histogram shows is that the batter hit well/poorly against older players, not necessarily better, older players.

    Comment by Ben F — May 25, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

  4. cool article. like you said, requires a lot of leg work though.

    Comment by Jamie — May 25, 2010 @ 3:11 pm

  5. Interesting article, Bryan. I put together an age-related database for an analysis of the Appalachian League last summer, so I know first hand how much of a pain that process can be. Looking forward to seeing where you go from here, because I absolutely agree about the importance of looking at performance in the context of age.

    Comment by theperfectgame — May 25, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  6. This. Knowing what age a hitter is at a specific level is obviously important, but not necessarily because he’s facing older pitching — it’s because he’s facing better pitching. Felix Hernandez at age 20 was a far, far tougher test for a hitter than Joe AAAA-Starter at age 26.

    That example might be extreme, but it isn’t uncommon for a future MLB regular to be far better at a young age than a career minor leaguer is at an older one, which I would argue makes age of competition fairly irrelevant.

    In the end, as a player moves up the ranks, you expect the competition to get tougher, so seeing a 19-year-old succeeding in High-A is the impressive part, and not because he’s facing 24-year-old starters — it’s because he’s facing High-A pitching. In the end, “age relative to league” is probably the perfect phrasing.

    Comment by Jake S — May 25, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  7. Ditto.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — May 26, 2010 @ 12:57 am

  8. I’d be interested in seeing whether age is correlated with pitching performance at all! The good pitchers get promoted, after all. Further, some young ‘uns stay down _because_ they are so young and the team doesn’t rush them.

    Any data on that? (E.g., WHIP by Age)

    Comment by A DC Wonk — May 27, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

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