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  1. Fascinating comparison. I really don’t understand all this Danks love myself.

    Comment by Kyle — November 14, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  2. Having watched both pitchers pitch a lot lately (as a White Sox fan), the biggest difference between these guys is consistency.

    Edwin Jackson’s numbers tell you he’s a league-average or a bit above type of guy, but what he really is a Jekyll & Hyde combination of an utterly dominant K machine and a hapless, confused walk machine with no semblance of control. FWIW, it seems to come form the fact that he’s essentially a two-pitch pitcher; when that dominant slider isn’t going where it’s supposed to go, he has nothing but 94mph fastballs down main street.

    Danks, on the other hand, is a finesse-type change up guy. He gets K’s when the change is going well, but tends to be more of a pitch-to-contact guy when he has to rely on the cutter. Much more Buerhle in him than Jackson. When he isn’t stirking guys out, he’s going to give up 3-4 runs in a solid-but-not-terribly-impressive type of outing.

    I tend to feel like Danks hasn’t had his best season yet. He always seems to get crappy run support or give up errors behind him. Last season, he started out 0-8 but should have won at least 5 of the starts. You could be right about their early careers setting the precedent, but it seems to me like Danks is more likely to get nastier with the change cutter than Jackson is to be able to consistenly command the slider.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — November 14, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

  3. So does that mean there’s a post on USS Mariner about trading Jose Lopez for Edwin Jackson?

    Comment by dickey simpkins — November 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

  4. As a White Sox fan that has had the pleasure of watching both the past year, I would say the big difference is inconsistency. Jackson seems to be all or nothing. Meaning he is absolutely brilliant or he throws 100 pitches through 4 bad innings. Danks is more consistent and is more valuable because he is a lefty.

    Comment by Tim — November 14, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

  5. I see how the overall performance is similar, but I think that taking Danks stats, even peripheral stats, at face value is going to underrate him due to the role that injuries have played. I know we’re getting more into a grey area here, but Danks goes through periods of ineffectiveness that pretty strongly correlate to word getting out through the media that he is injured [though, sometimes we don't get word until after this has happened]. This isn’t to say that Danks is likely to be better than CJ Wilson over the next couple of years, but I do think he’s going to be better than these stats are suggesting.

    I suppose you could argue that Danks is more likely to get injured going forward, but then that makes him dissimilar compared to Edwin Jackson.

    Comment by Prashanth Francis — November 14, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  6. I would take Danks 9/10, the other 1/10 being when Jackson actually finds the plate minus the meaty fastballs. I think it would be more appropriate to say that Jackson is the poor man’s Danks. Big market teams would be better off spending for Danks IMO.

    Comment by SeaBass — November 14, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  7. This is easy enough to test. Their average game scores for 2011 were nearly identical – 50.77 for Jackson, 50.67 for Danks. The average standard deviation for Danks was 18.61, much higher than Jackson’s 15.6. This suggests that Jackson was actually more consistent than Danks last year.

    By Game Score tiers:

    Starts <10: Danks 1, Jackson 0
    Starts <20: Danks 3, Jackson 2
    Starts <30: Danks 4, Jackson 4
    Starts <40: Danks 6, Jackson 6
    Starts >60: Danks 10, Jackson 9
    Starts >70: Danks 3, Jackson 3
    Starts >80: Danks 1, Jackson 1
    Starts >90: Danks 1, Jackson 0

    The evidence actually shows the exact opposite for 2011. Last year, Jackson was the more consistent pitcher.

    This is kind of my point – the narrative about the two pitchers simply doesn’t match the reality of how they’ve actually pitched. People see Jackson as an inconsistent flake, but he’s basically been every bit as reliable as Danks has over the last three years.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — November 14, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  8. Very interesting.

    Comment by Eminor3rd — November 14, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  9. Danks is 17 months younger and left handed. I know you made both of those points but I don’t think you emphasized them enough. The age difference is small, but potentially real if you are talking about the back end of a long term contract and lefties are always at a premium because of supply and demand.

    Comment by MikeS — November 14, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

  10. i’ve never understood the love for lefty starters. if a guy’s going to give you 190 innings of 3.90 ERA pitching, why do you care which hand he throws with?

    Comment by Jono411 — November 14, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  11. Also, Edwin Jackson is a statue defensively. And Jackson is easier to steal on. And Jackson has no pickoff move.

    Comment by U-God — November 14, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  12. What I find fascinating is how much KLaw hates CJ Wilson, favoring both Buerhle and Danks and probably any other half decent pitcher over him despite every bit of evidence pointing to CJ as the better pitcher.

    Comment by JohnOrpheus — November 14, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  13. But when you take a look at the gamelogs of each pitcher, the results don’t support your narrative. Danks and Jackson suffer from the same malady shared by all pitchers not named Halladay: inconsistency. And Jackson has never been anything close to an “utterly dominant K machine.” He had never struck out more than 9 batters in a game until 2010, and only 5 times in 173 career starts has he struck out 10 or more batters. Jackson was never going to follow the steps of Koufax, Ryan, or Randy Johnson – the hard-throwing but wild youngster who once he developed command would become an all-time great strikeout artist. I think the expectations on Jackson have been too great because he throws so damn hard.

    Comment by Greg H — November 14, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  14. I think the appeal with Danks lies in his projectability. He has a clean delivery and plus command of two pitches, one that ages well (cutter) and another that neutralizes opposite-handed batters (change-up).

    However, I have a feeling that any front-office person who looks at Danks and sees a 26-year old Andy Pettitte or Mark Buehrle is impossible to reason with.

    Comment by Choo — November 14, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  15. “For a team looking to upgrade their rotation, Danks could be a very useful piece. I’d just suggest that, before they give up a premium prospect to acquire one year of his services, that they check in on the cost of signing Jackson instead – they might very well get a similar pitcher at a similar cost without having to surrender any talent to acquire him in the first place.”

    The one-year issue might not be as big an issue as you think. Depending on the CBA, they may or may not get comp back. Plus, I think there is a lot of value getting guys on short contracts. Even without the comp picks, it might be worth a middling prospects in exchange for not having the back end of Jackson’s contract to weigh you down.

    Comment by Joey B — November 14, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  16. it’s a good thing that’s led to Danks being better at preventing runs than Jackson. oh wait…

    Comment by Jono411 — November 14, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  17. “We shouldn’t ignore the early career performances of both pitchers, but history has shown that data beyond the most recent three years isn’t that useful in helping project future performance.”

    That’s true for HITTERS, but not sure it’s true for PITCHERS. For PITCHERS, IIRC, they’re entire career performance is one of the best predictors, as long as you adjust Innings downward for aging/injury as the career progresses.

    Comment by KJOK — November 14, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  18. KLaw does seem to have some random bias.

    That said, the evidence of CJ being a superior pitcher really just happened this season if you take into account how flukey his peripherals were last year. CJ is also on the wrong side of 30.

    So, wrong side of 30 with really a one year track record, it’s easy to see how one might not like him.

    That said, I do not understand favoring Buerhle over him. I would be surprised if he actually said something to that extent. Danks on the other hand is younger with a longer track record of sustained success.

    Comment by Colin — November 14, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  19. I don’t think it’s very useful for either unless they maintain similar peripheral stats.

    Players are getting better and worse all the time.

    Comment by Colin — November 14, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  20. Jackson’s “inconsistent” label, IMO, stems from 2009 when the Arizona Diamondbacks flat out abused him because they had no bullpen.

    I[1] It’s not data-based.

    [2] IMO, his numbers don’t look as good as they should because they continually leave him in too long.

    I’ve been saying that EJackson is continually under-rated for all of this season and some of last season.

    He’s a 3.5 – 3.8 WAR pitcher (for each of the last 3 years) and folks need to recognize that it’s not just “above league average”, it’s “good” … and it’s sustained good.

    Besides, the data also shows that you win more game with a good pitcher that’s either on or off versus a guy that gives up the same total runs, but broken up evenly over the games started. TT’s blog had a thread on this not too long ago.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — November 14, 2011 @ 2:56 pm

  21. I will say that EJax was far more consistent last season than he had been in previous ones (just look at the ERA). I wouldn’t bet on it, but if we were to look at 2010, Danks probably wins out on the consistency thing.

    I also think the perception of Jackson being inconsistent is that Jackson either posts a 14K game or throws 100 pitches by the 5th in back to back starts (see game logs 4/12 – 4/28 of last season). He’s unpredictable. Danks, on the other hand, will go on hot streaks. When he’s cold, he sucks and lacks any control of his secondary pitches. When he’s hot, he can strike out 8-9 and pitch 6 or 7 quality innings.

    To the observer, this could give the perception that Danks will give you more predictable performances while you don’t know what the hell you might get with Jackson. As a fan, this is kind of how I felt when I watched these two.

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — November 14, 2011 @ 3:06 pm

  22. Right, but “the narrative” for a lot of people evaluating these pitchers doesn’t just encompass the last 3 years of their career and nothing else (even if that is the most important info for future performance).

    If you watch the White Sox, “the narrative” for John Danks includes a +138 ERA season at age 23 capped by 8 innings of shutout baseball in the game that decided the division that many people may have watched. For this comparison that means nothing, but that does explain people having a certain perception.

    As flawed as ERA is, people still look at it, and when it is adjusted, Jackson is a +97 for his career, and Danks is +111. This might explain some of the perception.

    Meanwhile, Jackson’s age 23 season featured a +79 ERA.

    So even if we agree that they have been nearly identical the last 3 seasons, why exactly would we wonder why they are perceived differently? They are perceived differently because people still remember things that happened outside of that evaluation time when Danks had better results.

    Comment by JK — November 14, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  23. It’s a good thing we can look at the actual run stats as to who was better at preventing runs instead of just making a snarky comment.

    Jackson — 4.28 R/G in 623 IP, about 200 of which were in the NL
    Danks — 4.18 R/G in 584 IP, all in the AL

    Comment by Yinka Double Dare — November 14, 2011 @ 6:02 pm

  24. Why sign Danks? Just sign Lopez and trade for him. Much cheaper.

    Comment by Michael — November 14, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  25. Don’t forget Mark Lowe and Jason Vargas.

    Comment by BaconSlayer09 — November 14, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  26. Well, it’s no surprise Jackson was more consistent, Danks suffered through an injury for an extended period of time and had two absolutely atrocious months. This was very uncharacteristic for Danks. Moreover, Danks is 2 years younger than Jackson and that is worht something. Additionally, Danks’ peripherals in a bad year were still better than Jackson’s in a “good” year for him. And on a yearly basis, Danks outperforms Jackson in K/BB, WHIP, AVG against, ERA, etc., etc. I don’t disagree that your numbers suggest some similarity, but I think it gratuitous at the least to say that those similarities warrant a team going after Jackson on the premise that they’re getting a cheaper and less-heralded version of John Danks.

    Comment by ubastratofan — November 14, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

  27. Financial restraints must be taken into account. A GM may shy away from a multi year contract with Jackson (or most pitchers, for that matter) whereas with Danks not only do you only have a one year obligation, you also have the possibility of the White Sox contributing to part of his 2012 salary, depending on the package back to Chicago. For a GM with a small and aging window and not a lot of salary room, Danks over Edwin makes loads of sense.

    And what about the elephant in the room? Jackson is represented by Boras – a very real turn off for many GM’s. So it’s not like you can make a fair offer for him and swoop him up. Your offer will be leaked and shopped to other teams. No Boras client outside of Weaver is an easy sign. Even if it’s not enough to turn off a GM, with Boras it’s quite conceivable that GM’s are downplaying their interest in Jackson to dance with Boras.

    Comment by Matt — November 14, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

  28. Of course wouldn’t the team that signs Jackson have to surrender a first round pick? Would anyone be giving up something that valuable for Danks? Assuming that Danks is signed long term, the debate in cost come from a) their respective contracts and b) whether the draft compensation for Jackson is equal to the value of what is traded for Danks.

    Comment by Mark — November 15, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  29. The Sox better not be unable to get a good return on Danks because of this article!!!!!

    Comment by Retnan — November 15, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  30. Yes, That is the salient point.

    Comment by Caleb W — November 15, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  31. Jackson is a Type B. No first-round pick.

    Comment by Ari Collins — November 15, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  32. It’s about intangibles. Danks is a warrior, Jackson has stuff but you never trust him. I love Sp’s who keep you in the game wo/best stuff…also, inspires team…CWS must have Beuhrle or Danks NY…same idea

    Comment by Bojirak1 — November 22, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  33. FYI — Lifelong CWS fan

    Comment by Bojirak1 — November 22, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

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