A New & Improved Phil Hughes?

For a pitcher who has thrown 21.1 innings of mediocre baseball this season, Phil Hughes‘ return to the majors has garnered quite a bit of media coverage. It’s not entirely undeserved either. Hughes hasn’t pitched well this season, but his performance going forward may impact the Yankees more than any other player on their roster. If Hughes can pitch effectively after missing nearly three months with a mystery injury, the Yankees will have strengthened their biggest weakness without having to surrender future prospects. While Hughes’ two starts since returning from the disabled list have been far from dominating, there are some signs that indicate Hughes could be the answer to the Yankees’ prayers.

Because Hughes has experienced such a tumultuous season, it’s nearly impossible to look at his numbers and come to any solid conclusions about his performance going forward. Hughes pitched poorly in his first three starts of the season because he was hurt, and he’s pitched a bit better in his last two because he has supposedly recovered from his injuries. That’s extremely obvious, but it’s about all you can take away from Hughes’ stat lines this season.

Thankfully, there are other aspects of his approach we can look at to determine whether things have changed during his time off. Talk of Hughes’ decreased velocity started way back in Spring Training and extended through his first three starts of the season. For many, the dropoff was the major reason for Hughes’ initial struggles. No longer able to hit 94 mph, batters were able to tee off on Hughes 89 mph fastballs.

Thanks to MLB’s new embed video policy, we can take a look at one of Hughes’ disaster starts from earlier this season:

As you can see in the clip, Hughes’ velocity hovers around 89 mph- not enough to fool the Baltimore Orioles’ hitters.

In his brief return, however, Hughes seems to have regained some of that lost velocity. In Hughes’ latest start (which is too recent to embed at the moment), Hughes consistently hits 91 mph on the gun. It’s not just a matter of a faulty radar gun either; his velocity charts also indicate a slight increase in his last two starts. He’s still not throwing 94 mph, but it’s encouraging to see him sitting at 91 mph. The biggest question is whether he’ll be able to sustain that velocity as his arm racks up more innings.

In his time off, Hughes made some other adjustments as well. After working with Yankee pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, Hughes has slightly altered his mechanics and started throwing his curve with a new grip. Go back and watch the two videos and see if you can spot those changes.

There’s no doubt that the curve Hughes threw in the game against the Toronto Blue Jays is different than the one he employed earlier in the season. The pitch has more velocity, more bite and — perhaps most importantly — Hughes had the confidence to throw it as a strikeout pitch.

The changes to his mechanics are harder for me to spot. I’m clearly no scouting expert, but it seems like Hughes’ delivery is slightly smoother since returning from the DL. He doesn’t appear to hesitate as much, and he looks more fluid to me than he did pre-injury. At the same time, my eye is completely untrained to spot these differences, so I could be wrong.

None of these factors guarantees that Hughes will pitch effectively going forward. They do give us some indication that he’s made changes during his recovery period that he — and the Yankees — believe will make him an effective piece in their rotation during the second half of the season. Since we can’t rely on the stats at this point, we have to use other methods to evaluate whether Hughes can succeed going forward. In a tiny sample, there are some signs that indicate Hughes is using a new approach that may be the cause of his increased velocity. Whether he can sustain those gains going forward is an entirely different question, and will play a major role in how the Yankees react in the second half.




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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


56 Responses to “A New & Improved Phil Hughes?”

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  1. MonteroSmash says:

    pretty much holds one of the bigger cards on Yankee performance later in the season. There’s a possibility that Bartolo’s not gonna last as well as how it was in first half and Freddy’s stat could go slightly worse to his FIP/xFIP. The stats of the overlal rotation might not look bad but there are big question marks for future no doubt. If Cashman decides to hold on to the prospects and not to trade for the likes of Ubaldo, he needs older guys to keep up their performance and have Hughes repeat more of his performance versus Toronto. Thankfully, Phil isn’t Bartolo or Freddy, and I think he has better chance to be better as he throws more. But you never know

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  2. strongbad56 says:

    It’s incredible how much Sabathia is holding the Yankees together right now. Other than him, they have two veterans heading south on Regression Railroad, a guy who’s just as likely to give up 9 runs as pitch a shutout, and Phil Hughes. They really need Hughes to step up in this second half (see, the playoffs), or I don’t see them going anywhere in October (if they make it).

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    • Tom B says:

      If they make it?

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      • ap723625 says:

        With Hughes back in the rotation now and A-Rod, Soriano and Chavez all due back in the next few weeks coupled with some likely deadline deals I highly doubt the Yankees 6.5 game wild card lead is in jeopardy.

        Chris, I would keep a close eye on Hughes’ ability to get swinging strikes. His main issue last year was his inability to get a strike out. Teams were fouling off about 30 pitches a game which drove up his pitch count early. I forget the exact number, but his “foul balls” were down in a big way last game. Let’s hope he can keep that up and pitch deeper into games. He threw only 80 pitches in 6 innings last game.

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      • Telo says:

        Yea, cause the Rays and Sox have no chance to make the playoffs.

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      • William says:

        Telo, the Rays have no chance at making the playoffs.

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      • Hank says:

        The other issue with Hughes is that while his average velo has been better (~91), he’s been on a pitch count and the velocity has definitely fallen off a touch in both of his start as the game has gone on..

        I’m not so sold on him getting some of his velocity back… once he starts going past 70-80 pitches and takes multiple turns on 4-5 days rest I’ll be curious if he’s still averaging 91mph

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    • t-lonious munk says:

      Its early, but its hard to say the rays have made themselves much of a presence in the race at this point. The Yankees and Sox both have much better chances of improving at the deadline, its hard to see how these two teams don’t make it.

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    • Hank says:

      Colon has a 3.27 xFIP to go with his 3.47 ERA… when you say regression are you predicting injury? Or expecting his ERA to possibly get a tick better?

      While Garcia is an obvious regression candidate, I’m not sure Bartolo is… there’s a difference between ‘health concerns” vs “Regression Railroad” – you make it sound like he’s outpitching his peripherals and he is clearly not.

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  3. Telo says:

    “For a pitcher who has thrown 21.1 innings of mediocre baseball this season,”

    I think you meant to say… absolutely horrendous

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  4. Chris says:

    The injury wasn’t really a mystery (or at least the cure wasn’t). He was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation and given a cortisone shot. After that, he was suddenly able to get loose and regain his velocity.

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  5. puffy says:

    A much better article would have been, “Why was a vastly superior prospect like Ivan Nova demoted to make a spot for Hughes?”

    I understand that Hughes has been given the “golden boy” treatment, but Nova is blatantly superior to Hughes in every way. Better stuff, better velocity, better control, better build, better groundball rate, better K rate…..there’s not a single area that is meaningful to baseball where Hughes is able to outperform Nova.

    I’ve been tracking Hughes very closely his entire career. He is not good enough for the real league (AL). The only way he will ever become a viable starter is if he is demoted to the NL. If it’s the NL West, he might be able to resemble a #2 on the strength of his curveball. This whole charade is costing Nova and the Yankees valuable innings.

    Please stop this absurd charade about Hughes being a premium prospect. He’s a decent arm. Nothing more.

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    • Jon says:

      Wait you really think Ivan Nova is a better prospect than Phil Hughes was?

      Thats a joke right?

      Hughes was a first round pick who was once rated #2 prospect in all of baseball

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      • puffy says:

        Really? On a site that is supposed to be statistically minded, this is your argument? Really????????????????

        We have over 5 years of minor and major league data available on these guys. Tons of stats, pitch FX and video available on each, and this is what you come up with?

        And you guys think you are any better than the monkeys that post on MLBTR?

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      • Jon says:

        Ok fine lets look at what they have done in the majors

        H/9 Nova 9.6 Hughes 8.4 Winner Hughes
        BB/9 Nova 3.6 Hughes 3.2 Winner Hughes
        K/9 Nova 5.2 Hughes 7.7 Winner Hughes
        WHIP Nova 1.466 Hughes 1.291 Winner Hughes

        yep looks like Nova is CLEARLY the better pitcher

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      • puffy says:

        This works if you cherry pick a favorable sample size. Look at their evolution over the past 2 seasons, and you see a very different picture.

        These samples are irrelevant for guys at Nova’s and Hughes’ career, and even then, the differences are marginal.

        Nova’s GB rate is vastly superior to Hughes’ and his velocity is far better. These are sustainable differences. The differences you are highlighting are showing themselves to be unsustainable.

        At their age, vastly superior GB rate and velocity are preferable when the other numbers are that close even over a biased sample. At their age, anyone would take an additional 5 mph and +20-30% points in GB rate over the marginal differences you are pointing out.

        Anyone can cherry pick a sample that supports any “argument”. In their low 20s, you must heavily weight their most recent performance. Additionally, nothing you noted outweighs such superior GB %s and velocity.

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      • Jon says:

        Where are you getting 5mph from?

        Nova FB in 2011 has averaged 92.4 MPH
        Hughes FB in 2011 has averaged 90.3 MPH and in 2010 it was 92.6

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      • Jon says:

        Just to keep going a little bit

        Hughes fast ball has been 0.2 runs above average
        Novas fast ball has been 3.7 runs BELOW average

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      • puffy says:

        Watch a game Jon. Pitch FX avg velocity cannot be relied up on it’s own because it confuses pitches.

        Nova sits 94-97 and touches 98 with his 4 seamer. Hughes sits 89-91. Due to error in reading pitches, a difference of 2 mph in avg velocity typically reflects a much greater difference in reality.

        I don’t know the sample size you using to generate that run value. These guys are vastly different pitchers than they were as recently as 2 years ago. Unless he pulls a Greinke (which is extremely rare), the decline in Hughes’ stuff has lasted long enough to be a real concern.

        Nova’s 2 seamer can dip to as low as 90 mph, but this is coupled with huge downward movement. Watch any of his starts, and you will realize immediately that Nova can reach back for upper 90s at will. Hughes doesn’t have that anymore. For about 2 years now, Hughes has barely scraped 94 at his absolute best. He’s living at 89-91 now.

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      • Jon says:

        Really? you think the juiced stadium guns are a better indication of mph

        Hughes was in the pen 2 years ago of course his fastball will be faster in short burst

        but once again like i posted before hughes fastball in 2010 it was 92.6

        not sure where you are getting your “facts”

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      • puffy says:

        I do this crazy thing called “watching baseball” and validating data.

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      • puffy says:

        Btw, Nova and Hughes are evaluated using the same equipment. it’s clear you will resort to anything to avoid truth, but the whole “they’re on the same freaking team” thing kind of gets in the way of your “bad equipment argument.

        Anyone who knows anything about pitch FX already knows what I explained about it’s variance.

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      • Jon says:

        Right I’m using the same equipment to evaluate 2 pitches

        its called fangraphs here let me pull it up for you

        http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=7450&position=P
        http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1994&position=P

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      • puffy says:

        I don’t know the formula that is used to calculate pitching runs. 2 things prevent me from caring:

        - I don’t believe humans that are smart enough to calculate pitching runs accurately, do so for the public.

        - Any stat that implies Nova’s 2 seam fastball a negative score is not worth looking at.

        - The “run value” on the fangraphs page does not distinguish 2 seamers, 4 seamers or high 80s change ups that are mistaken for fastballs.

        A baseball fan, or someone who watches games knows that there is a huge difference between a 2 seamer and 4 seamer. Additionally, if you look at Nova’s velocity charts, you see that “fastballs” in the high 80s are being mixed in with those in the mid 90s. Watch huim pitch, and you would realize extremely quickly that Nova’s fastball is NOT in the 88-91 neighborhood. When he’s throwing his heater, everyone in the park knows it.

        Based on your understanding of pitch FX data, I’m not going to waste my time digging into your understanding of “run value”.

        I hate to use this tone, but this is totally fair. If you met someone who couldn’t even add or subtract, would you even bother getting into calculus?

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      • puffy says:

        Typo….”3 things”.

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    • YankeesJunkie says:

      You are either stupid or a troll.

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      • puffy says:

        There is not a single measure, traditional or advanced, that conflicts with the notion that Nova is a vastly superior prospect.

        I won’t even dive into the data because it’s so blatantly obvious. To have a factual debate about whether Nova is better than Hughes, is to question whether or not you can read.

        Subjective rhetoric and statistical analysis do not mix. Sabermetrics has not saved you monkeys from your biases. It has merely expanded the tool set with which you impose your biases on the world.

        For the general public, all sabermetrics has proven is that no amount of statistical or philosophical examination is safe from the bias of human vanity.

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      • YankeesFan24 says:

        Puffy you are an idiot if you think that Nova would be in the minor leagues because Hughes is more marketable. Of all the stars on the Yankees you think Hughes would really sell that many more tickets than Nova. This isn’t so shitty team that needs help with attendance, it is a team that wants to win. Nova is good but you are clearly overhyping him. He can’t strike anyone out and he’s inconsistent. He can be lights out one game and the next he doesn’t last 3 innings. He’s good but not as good as Hughes

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    • snapper says:

      Here’s 2 critical statistics.

      MLB K/9 Hughes 7.7, Nova 5.2
      MLB BB/9 Hughes 3.2, Nova 3.6

      And the mLB stats confirm that Hughes K’s more and walks fewer batters.

      These are perhaps the 2 most important skills for a pitcher.

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      • puffy says:

        The difference in BB rate is negligible. The difference in K rate is admittedly meaningful, but far less so when you broaden the context to consider the difference in velocity and GB %s.

        In their low 20s, K rates are going to fluctuate. Additionally, you have to consider that fact that Nova has an absolutely ridiculous 2 seam/sinking fastball. Any pitcher with a sinking fastball like that is going to abuse it, thus causing a dip in K %.

        Given the difference in K rate, I will admit that my wording was too strong that Hughes under performs in all areas. I dismiss a difference like that when there is such a massive difference in velocity and GB % for pitchers of this age.

        K % is v important, but it can’t be evaluated in a vacuum. When I see such a huge difference in GB %, that type of difference in K % makes sense to me.

        Regarding young arms, vastly superior GB % and velocity are far better indicators of long term success than K % in a vacuum.

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      • puffy says:

        What we’re really seeing here is 2 different pitchers being developed 2 different ways.

        1 guy throws an electric 2 seamer. This is the most sustainable skill in the game. If you can command a mid 90s 2 seamer to produce a 50%+ GB rate, any pitching coach is going to tell you to throw the crap out of it.

        Hughes’ strength is his curveball. It’s a nasty pitch when it’s working, but this is one of the least sustainable/consistent skills in pitching. With his declining velocity and weak movement, he cannot afford to live off the fastball, so he is being developed to live off the K.

        You can’t look at their stats without considering these very important factors. These guys are in a developmental phase, where they are trying to figure out how to optimize their abilities. if you view their performance in this context, you see a very clear picture that Nova is the superior investment.

        Nova is 94-97 with ridiculous movement. Hughes is 89-91, flat. Nova has an equally nasty breaking ball when looking at pitch FX, but Hughes controls it better because he has to rely on it more heavily.

        Nova has a top tier pitch that he uses to enhance efficiency. If he didn’t have such a knockout pitch, he’d strive to produce more Ks. Watch 2 innings pitched by Nova, and it’s blatantly obvious that he has the arm to be that kind of pitcher. If you switch him to a K pitcher tho, you greatly increase his injury risk and sustainability. It’s quite simple to see why the Yankees are going this route with Nova.

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      • Jon says:

        Novas “top tier” pitch is worth 3.7 runs BELOW average

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      • puffy says:

        Nova’s 2 seamer is the key to a 55%+ GB rate over the past 2 years. I don’t know what sample size or formula is being used to calculate that measure.

        I see a young athletic kid supporting a 55%+ GB rate with upper 90s gas. Nasty breaking ball and change with inconsistent location. His 2 seamer is how he gets by. Any number that tells you otherwise is crap.

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      • Jon says:

        You can see what ever you want

        everyone else sees a #4 starter

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      • puffy says:

        “everyone else”

        Fine. Let’s devolve. You’re a pooh pooh head.

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      • YankeesFan24 says:

        Puffy I understand your frustration that Nova is not in the big leagues because he obviously showed improvement and he was really pitching well before he was sent down. However, I disagree with your assertion that Nova is a clearly better prospect than Hughes. Nova does have more velocity on the radar gun but he doesn’t ever consistently hit 94 let alone 97. In addition, velocity does not always mean a better pitch, Cliff Lee has a way better fast ball than many people who throw faster than him and the same is true with Hughes. Although he may only hit 92 on the gun, it has late jump that blows hitters away (against Toronto). Also it’s not fair to compare Phil Hughes of this year to Nova considering Hughes has been injured and his stats reflect that. I agree with you that Nova should be in the Yankees rotation and he probably will be by the end of the year when Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon come back to reality.

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      • puffy says:

        The “velocity is not everything” argument doesn’t hold here. With Cliff Lee, you have to consider these things:

        - Lee is a lefty.
        - Lee can spot 6 different pitches with laser like precision.
        - Lee can maintain low 90s velocity over extremely long periods of time.
        - Lee has masted his strengths & weaknesses.

        Hughes has not done any of these things I’m not saying Hughes is not a solid prospect. He’s worth a spot on any team in baseball. In this case though, you have a clearly superior alternative. This is not the only thing that frustrates me. Even if you think otherwise, can you really tell me that upon careful examination, the attention given to Hughes is justified compared to that of Nova?

        Based on the behavior I have seen throughout my years as a fan, I believe Nova has clearly jumped ahead of Hughes on the depth chart of most who get paid to work in the game.

        I will rephrase what I said earlier. When viewed in the proper context, Nova is blatantly superior as a prospect. It’s possible the Yankees are showcasing Hughes to be dealt. It’s possible the Yankees are trying to delay Nova’s arbitration eligibility. These are the only justifications I can think of for their treatment, but this is never the narrative given by writers, thus my frustration.

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      • Jon says:

        1) Nova was NEVER a high rated prospect Hughes was
        2) Hughes has more experience and more sucess at the major league level
        3) The yankees, the richest team in baseball, will never delay arbitration eligibility at the cost of winning.
        4) The reason Nova was sent down when Hughes came back is because Hughes is a better pitcher than Nova

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      • puffy says:

        This is my last response to you, because I don’t care to devolve any further:

        1) Nova was NEVER a high rated prospect Hughes was
        - Any objective analysis of prospect rating would clearly reflect that this is totally irrelevant.

        2) Hughes has more experience and more sucess at the major league level
        - First, Hughes has been given far more opportunity. Second, at their age, recent performance has to be weighted far more than previous performance, especially for pitchers.

        3) The yankees, the richest team in baseball, will never delay arbitration eligibility at the cost of winning.
        - The Yankees do whatever the F they want. The media and the Yankees have decided that Hughes will be more marketable than Nova, so Hughes sells more tickets, so Hughes starts. Managing arbitration effectively is worth tens of millions of dollars. If you think the Yankees don’t care about that kind of money, then you’re even dumber than I thought.

        4) The reason Nova was sent down when Hughes came back is because Hughes is a better pitcher than Nova
        - Oh yeah!? You’re a double pooh pooh head.

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      • Telo says:

        Nova doesn’t strike anyone out. How is this even a discussion

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  6. James says:

    Is there any difference between 2010 Phil Hughes and Phil Hughes now? I think that comparison is more important.

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    • Jon says:

      Hughes was 2 very different pitches last year

      first half: 3.65 ERA

      second half: 4.9 ERA

      real question is which one is the real phil hughes

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    • puffy says:

      The pattern with Hughes has been that he has repeatedly shown that mid 90s velocity is unsustainable for him. He hasn’t developed enough consistency with his curve to outperform at 89-91.

      If he learns to throw his best curve consistently, he would be tough even at 91 mph. With this said, history does not look favorably on guys who rely on the curve.

      These are the scenarios where Hughes becomes a great pitcher:

      - improved consistency of curveball. (very unlikely)
      - sustainable increase in velocity. (very unlikely)
      - add nasty change up or splitter. (a lottery ticket)

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  7. jpg says:

    “I’m clearly no scouting expert…”

    With all do respect Chris, I think it would have been more prudent to have Marc Hulet or Reed do this write up on Hughes. If we are trying to determine if we are seeing a “new and improved” Hughes, why not have, you know, an actual scout analyze his new mechanics. Even having Dave Allen do some PitchFX analysis might have yielded more. Again no disrespect, just a suggestion.

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    • puffy says:

      Even then, you would have most likely received a very biased perspective.

      They decided that the story was going to be “a new & improved Hughes” and they wrote a story to support the header.

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      • phoenix2042 says:

        or they looked at the data and watched his starts and drew a conclusion from the facts… something which you dont like to do. remember when you said that stats are meaningless when you already “know” something from watching a pitcher? yea that sounds to me like making a decision and finding facts (or actually ignoring them) in order to support your decision. so why dont you work on actually looking at facts before making an assertion before you criticize someone for not doing it. dont believe my description of your antics? how about this:

        you: There is not a single measure, traditional or advanced, that conflicts with the notion that Nova is a vastly superior prospect.

        facts: H/9 Nova 9.6 Hughes 8.4 Winner Hughes
        BB/9 Nova 3.6 Hughes 3.2 Winner Hughes
        K/9 Nova 5.2 Hughes 7.7 Winner Hughes
        WHIP Nova 1.466 Hughes 1.291 Winner Hughes

        Nova FB in 2011 has averaged 92.4 MPH
        Hughes FB in 2011 has averaged 90.3 MPH and in 2010 it was 92.6 MPH. Hughes fast ball has been 0.2 runs above average
        Novas fast ball has been 3.7 runs BELOW average

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  8. puffy says:

    1 final prediction, but I won’t dive into this one because admittedly, the numbers don’t support it yet and I’m basing this on mere observation.

    Hector Noesi will outperform Hughes over the long run.

    Again, we’re dealing with human performance that varies greatly, so this is an educated shot in the dark at best. I like the combination of Noesi’s frame, change up, control, peak velocity and poise.

    I wouldn’t bet money on this, but I feel good enough about it to toss it out there as a possibility. I think Noesi is a legit top prospect.

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    • YankeesFan24 says:

      Wow, if your Nova claim were not bad enough you pull out Noesi lol. You are like Al Davis in that you rely too heavily on measureables that don’t always add up to success. You would pick Heyward-Bey because he had a fast 40 time. Just because Noesi throws hard and is tall doesn’t mean he will amount to anything. I’m not saying he is crap but he will not come close to Phil Hughes. You mention Noesi’s control as a positive when in reality he doesn’t know where his pitches are going and can’t locate for crap. You can’t just predict someone will be very good based on velocity and height. You are using Noesi’s height and velocity to predict that he will be better than Hughes who already has notched an 18 win season, an all-star appearance.

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    • V says:

      Would you be willing to put $ where your mouth is?

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  9. mgonzo777 says:

    Take a chill pill Puffy. Comparing baseball players is nothing to get heated about or insult people over. Also, all your arguments for why people manipulate data to support their claims and that they are biased to Hughes can be made about your infatuation with Nova. It’s like little kids arguing over who hit the other one first. Stay on topic. Just from reading your comments you seem more biased to Nova than anyone ever has been to Phil Hughes.

    I am not a Yankees fan so I could care less about either of these players except what impact they have in fantasy baseball. Neither Nova nor Hughes has pitched an entire major league season and Hughes has had his development delayed by hamstring injuries and a 2009 bullpen stint. It’s not feasible to analyze either pitcher at this point in their careers. Considering Hughes never pitched more than 100 professional innings since 2007 (109 IP), and that his high was 146 IP in 2006, it was poor judgement for the Yankees to more than double his innings from 86 in ’09 to 176.1 in ’10 just because of their rotation problems. I do believe there is no structural damage to his shoulder but I also feel it became extremely weakened due to being over worked. He had to do some serious strengthening which is why he spent so much time on the DL this year. I don’t see his velocity returning to 94-95 this season, but I don’t see it diminishing any further than 91 either. Hughes probably needs to strengthen his shoulder some more but the Yankees need him now. Given an off season dedicated to therapy and strength work, I see Hughes returning to early ’10 form next season.

    Let’s look at Nova and Hughes from some more practical measures and game observation as you do. Throwing hard and getting a lot of grounders does not make a pitcher good. The annals of baseball are littered with hard throwing sinker-ballers who never became more than middle of the rotation arms. I am not experienced at scouring advanced metrics to analyze player performances but some pitchers in recent history who fit this profile are Aaron Cook, Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, Chad Qualls, Chien-Ming Wang, Jason Marquis, and Braden Looper.

    Now let’s make the distinction of command versus control. Control is the ability to throw strikes and command is the ability to throw the ball where you want to. Where Nova is probably on par with Hughes in the control department, he is lacking on command. A hard two seamer moves a lot and not always the same way. It’s hard to locate and it’s what gets sinker ballers into trouble. If they aren’t on point with the sinker they are walking guys or over compensating and leaving it belt high down the middle. Nova gets hit a lot. That’s really what drives his WHIP up and gets him into trouble. It’s not just ground ball hits either which are to be expected of a pitcher with a high ground ball rate. Hughes is better at limiting hits and will improve if his velocity continues to return. Hughes throws strikes to both sides of the plate whereas Nova has problems consistently hitting the outside part of the plate.

    Nova’s breaking ball has a nice bite but he can’t control it so most batters lay off it. Hughes’ curve ball is excellent and located well. Breaking balls are exponentially more effective when thrown ahead in the count and Hughes has a better first pitch strike percentage than Nova. For their careers, Nova is behind in the count more often than ahead and Hughes is the opposite.

    Hughes is better at mixing and locating his pitches, has more experience, can go deeper into games, has a much higher upside, and throws more quality strikes and the latter is especially what Larry Rothschild cares about and that’s why he’s in the rotation and Nova is not. I like Nova. I think he has potential. I think he deserves to be up more than Freddy Garcia or Burnett but neither of those guys can be sent to the minors without going on waivers and the Yankees have zero depth at starting pitcher. It was a business move. Garcia or Colon will falter or get injured soon enough and Nova will be back up.

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  10. Devon F says:

    Don’t feed the trolls… keeps them coming back for more.

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  11. DSFC says:

    This should help end this ridiculous argument

    Ivan Nova’s career minors stats: 36-34, 3.79, 1.363 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 2.19 K/BB

    Phil Hughes’ career minors stats: 32-8, 2.35, .927 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 4.53 K/BB

    Oh, and Hughes is all of six months older than Nova, so it’s not like Nova’s a good bet to progress much more. Nova’s a decent back of the rotation starter, at best.

    I don’t know if Hughes will ever come close to living up to his potential, but his talent simply is much higher than Nova’s. And Hughes is a big box office draw for the Yankees? Are you serious?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Jerome S. says:

    This is so fucked up I have no words.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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