Comps Say Niese Extension a Good Deal

The Mets extended lefty Jonathon Niese for five years and $25.5 million, and even without the two club option years ($10 and $10.5 million respectively), the deal should be a solid one for the front office. They’ve bought out all of his arbitration years, a year of free agency, and have two friendly options — and his comps suggest that he’ll make the deal look good.

Using the new age filters on the site, we can find all the pitchers between 23 and 25 years old that pitched in the PITCH F/x era (2002+). From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to all 23-25 year olds that managed to induce more than 47% of their contact on the ground (Niese career GB% 49.1%), strike out more than seven batters per nine (career 7.65 K/9), walk fewer than 3.4 batters per nine (career 2.99 BB/9), and amass more than 150 innings in a season. Suddenly, Niese is in good company.

Yr Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR
09 Tim Lincecum 225.1 10.42 2.72 0.4 0.282 47.5% 5.5% 2.48 2.34 2.83 8
09 Felix Hernandez 238.2 8.18 2.68 0.57 0.278 53.4% 7.5% 2.49 3.09 3.37 6.8
02 Roy Oswalt 232 7.95 2.41 0.66 0.297 47.0% 8.5% 3.03 3.01 3.26 6.5
09 Jon Lester 203.1 9.96 2.83 0.89 0.313 47.7% 10.6% 3.41 3.15 3.09 6.4
10 Felix Hernandez 249.2 8.36 2.52 0.61 0.263 53.9% 8.5% 2.27 3.04 3.14 6.2
06 Jeremy Bonderman 214 8.5 2.69 0.76 0.318 48.2% 8.9% 4.08 3.29 3.53 6.1
09 Josh Johnson 209 8.22 2.5 0.6 0.29 50.3% 7.5% 3.23 3.06 3.36 5.6
11 Felix Hernandez 233.2 8.55 2.58 0.73 0.307 50.2% 9.5% 3.47 3.13 3.15 5.5
03 Brandon Webb 179.2 8.57 3.36 0.6 0.265 63.7% 15.4% 2.86 3.33 3.1 4.8
10 Chad Billingsley 191.2 8.03 3.24 0.38 0.301 49.6% 4.5% 3.57 3.07 3.67 4.5
07 Dustin McGowan 169.2 7.64 3.24 0.74 0.273 53.0% 9.2% 4.08 3.73 3.79 3.9
11 Jonathon Niese 157 7.91 2.52 0.8 0.331 51.6% 10.5% 4.3 3.36 3.27 2.7
10 Jonathon Niese 173.2 7.67 3.21 1.04 0.324 47.7% 11.8% 4.2 4.1 3.8 1.9

That’s a seriously exciting list of compatriots. Three caveats separate Niese from the rest, in a bad way, so let’s enumerate and perhaps eviscerate.

1) Niese has the worst record in the seasons that appear on the list. He was the only one under .500, with a 20-21 record. You know what, though? Wins. Wins are so silly that they didn’t belong on the list, and we can move on.

2) Niese gave up more home runs than anyone on the list. You might also notice that he has two of the four worst home-run-per-fly ball rates on the list. The bulk of the research out there suggests that pitchers cannot control this rate — Niese might expect regression towards the mean suggested by his comps on this list. Hint: that would be good for him.

3) Niese pitched fewer innnings than anyone not named Dustin McGowan on this list. But so far the injuries that have felled Niese have not been arm or shoulder issues. A thigh strain lead to surgery and the bulk of his missed time in 2010, and 2011 it was an oblique strain. We’re still working on injury predictions, and we do know that hitting the DL in any given season makes a pitcher more likely to hit the DL in a future season. These two injuries still don’t seem that threatening.

Of course, Niese manages to find himself near the bottom of the three limiting factors, so He’s not in the same class as Felix Hernandez even if they ended up on the same list. But all is not lost even if he ends up more like Jeremy Bonderman. If you look at the five years Bonderman put up after 2006, he still managed four and a half wins. Five years like Chad Billingsley put up would make Niese a value, and it’s worth mentioning that Billingsley has had trouble crossing two of the three limiting threshholds for most of his career — he has a career 46.5% ground-ball percentage, and a career walk rate of 3.92 per nine. Dustin McGowan is the bogeyman, of course, but even in 2007, McGowan had already had Tommy John surgery.

And Jon Lester is the only other lefty on this list. That’s worth pointing out, since lefties have gotten bigger, longer deals over the course of free agency. It’s also worth pointing out that Niese did his damage at ages 23 and 24, so he was younger than some of the men on this list.

The bottom line is that this deal, if you use the 40/60/80 structure, values Jonathon Niese as if he was a two-win pitcher. And he’s been better than that so far. If his luck on fly balls and balls in play (.329 career BABIP) change for the better, he could be an even better value all the way into 2018.

Some have felt that the Mets’ front office has been handcuffed, and that they haven’t spent enough to make this team better. This week, though, they spent, finally. And they did so wisely.



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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.


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Andrew Fiorentino
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Andrew Fiorentino
4 years 4 months ago

I love seeing you talk up my Mets, Eno, but I’m going to have a hard time forgiving you for stealing Lucas Duda from me in Ottoneu.

cpebbles
Guest
cpebbles
4 years 4 months ago

Maybe he can pay for his own damned nose job now.

TomG
Member
TomG
4 years 4 months ago

Dodio-do there’ll be no nose job.

NadavT
Member
NadavT
4 years 4 months ago

From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to all 23-25 year olds that managed to induce more than 47% of their contact on the ground (Niese career GB% 49.1%), strike out more than seven batters per nine (career 7.65 K/9), walk fewer than 3.4 batters per nine (career 2.99 BB/9), and amass more than 150 innings in a season”

Can these filters be applied on the Leaders page, or does your hopping and skipping involve exporting data to Excel?

James Gentile
Member
4 years 4 months ago

Get ready for big things from Jon Niese this year.

Just remember that Uncle JDanger told you first.

USMF
Guest
USMF
4 years 4 months ago

I love the break down, I love the signing and I love the potential Niese brings to the table.

I do hate the idea that win/lose record should be ignored. Yes, a win/lose record doesn’t always reflect how effective a pitcher is.

I know many Yankee people love Phil Hughes because he won 8 games, but he also pitched to a 4.19ERA with 25HRs and fell short of 200innings. So did Hughes win because he was that good, or because he got a ton of support for the offence and bullpen?

But, usually if a pitcher has a lot of wins, it means that he’s consistently going deeper into games. To be a top value pitcher, you need to be able to pitch +6innings consistently.

A good pitcher will also know that being up 5 runs means that it’s more important to pitch quickly and go deep. You may give up more hits and run, but you’ll still win the game and help the bullpen get a rest.

I could give more examples, but my point is, the idea is to win. If you see a lot of wins or losses, you need to look into the other stats and see what the cause of the record.

There are usually one or two situations in a game that will change the outcome of the game, if a guy pitches great most of the game, but consistently fails in those big moments, then he’s not a good as his numbers show.

USMF
Guest
USMF
4 years 4 months ago

That should say “Hughes won 18 games” not 8.

Oliver
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Oliver
4 years 4 months ago

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Niese is better than Ubaldo going forward.

Matt
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Matt
4 years 4 months ago

Its a good move for the Mets. Three things can happen. The Mets get a bargain if Niese continues to improve, the Mets get a back-of-the-rotation lefty at market value if he stagnates or, at the very least, they have an excellent trade chip should the need arise.

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
4 years 4 months ago

I agree that it’s a good move for the Mets. With the two team options, it might even be a great move – especially if he turns it up a notch and starts to perform in line with his peripherals. But I think you’re forgetting a fourth option: He has a serious injury or horribly regresses, and he’s just a waste of a roster spot and $5MM. It’s not a big amount of money per year, but it might be enough to keep putting him on the mound even as he gets crushed.

west
Member
west
4 years 4 months ago

I see an old scout somewhere saying “you don’t give a man who would get a nose job a long term contract” and I would agree with him.

Steve
Guest
Steve
4 years 4 months ago

You know what, though? Wins. Wins are so silly that they didn’t belong on the list, and we can move on.

Are wins really silly when we’re trying to figure out how much a pre-ARB player should be paid?

Part of the contract is figuring out how much he is likely to earn over the next few years through the normal process in place. You don’t think arbitrators consider things like wins and raw ERA?

I like Niese. I am not saying this is a bad deal, just that if we are sitting here when he is eligible for arbitration and his ERA hasn’t caught up with his FIP, he’ll probably be guaranteed a little more than he would have got in arbitration. Prob not a big deal.

Also, his HR rate may naturally regress, but at the same time the fences in his home park are being moved in. Could that offset this a bit? Have no idea, just wondering.

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
4 years 4 months ago

Is part of the comp problem that you picked out some lower bounds that include Niese and didn’t include somewhat equidistant upper bounds?

IE, the list of players with 200 SB and 200 HRs will include Mays, Aaron, Bonds, A-Rod etc… but also include Devon White, Marquis Grissom, Ray Lankford and Howard Johnson. It doesn’t imply in any way that the latter four are in any way in the same class as the former four…

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
4 years 4 months ago

Using 2002-2011 data for ages 23-24 and combining the years:

Niese was at a 49.5% GB%, lets toss out anyone not within 20% of that 41.3%-59.4%… sample is 27 pitchers.

Niese was at 7.78 SO/9… again restrict to +/- 20% [6.5-9.3], sample is now 14.

Niese was at 2.89 BB/9… +/- 20% gives a range of 2.41 to 3.47. Niese had 330.2 IP, +/- 20% [275-397 IP]…

That leaves eight pitchers roughly similar in GB, SO and BB rates and IP:
CC Sabathia
Brett Myers
John Danks
Justin Verlander
Johnny Cueto
Jon Niese
Jaime Garcia
Jeremy Bonderman

Someone mentioned IP/GS; Bonderman, Verlander and Sabathia are well ahead of the rest [who are all pretty close], so you could probably toss them and have four comps left.

Among those four plus Niese; Niese has the second lowest FIP and xFIP [behind Garcia], the second highest ERA [only Myers was worse]… the highest, by far, BABIP and lowest LOB%…

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
4 years 4 months ago

I did… these are all 23-24 year olds since 2002… as the first sentence indicated :)

Spike
Guest
Spike
4 years 4 months ago

Eno likes this deal?? I am shocked!

Hey, just some ribbing there. I like the deal too and called out for it about a week before it was announced.

Eric
Guest
Eric
4 years 4 months ago

The lefty Chad Billingsley has always been my personal Nurse comp, so its nice to see some kind of real evidence to it besides me just spewing nonsense.

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