Jurrjens Isn’t Worth A Top Prospect

With the Atlanta Braves shopping Jair Jurrjens, the question that everyone should want answered is whether or not Jurrjens is a lemon. Is the drop in his velocity attributable to injury, or is he simply losing velocity the natural way. The only way we will know for sure is if someone states so publicly, and unless Jurrjens is about to go under the knife, it’s doubtful that information will be forthcoming anytime soon. So for the moment let’s take a look at the things we can see.

Jurrjens is a good example of a bad-good pitcher, in that his peripherals rarely match the shininess of his superficial stats. His career ERA is nearly a half-run better than his FIP, and his FIP is more than a third of a run lower than his xFIP. More succinctly, Jurrjen’s career ERA- is a very-nice 83, while his career FIP- is a slightly above-average 95 and his career xFIP- is a slightly below-average 102. One of the main reasons his FIP and xFIP don’t match his ERA is because of his strikeout rate. Jurrjens has never had a league-average K/9. This year, it was even lower than usual, as his K/9 dipped all the way to 5.33, nearly two strikeouts below the league average. This is likely attributable to the drop in velocity he experienced this season. Jurrjen’s average velocity has declined in each of his five big-league seasons, but until 2011, the drops were miniscule and not a cause for concern. But this season, his average fastball lost two miles per hour. Jurrjens did spend time dealing with a right knee injury, and the ability to push off the rubber may partially explain the drop in velocity, but it’s doubtful that it explains it completely. In looking at his velocity charts, we can see that the top velocity range of some of his 2011 starts don’t even reach the average velocity of some of his 2010 starts. That is a troubling sign, as is the overall drop in velocity over the years.

Pitchers who can’t rely on their fastball often mix things up more than their flamethrowing brethren. Over the past five seasons, there were 135 qualified starting pitcher seasons where the pitcher’s average fastball velocity was less than 90 mph (this group excludes Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey seasons). That group threw, on average, 4.27 different pitches. Narrowing the results a little to pitches that were thrown greater than or equal to five percent of the time, we see that number drop to 3.81, which is still close enough to a four-pitch mix for government work. Looking at the 290 starting pitcher seasons (excluding Jurrjens) on the other side of the coin (fastball velocity of 90 mph or better), we see they mixed up their pitches less — they had averages of 4.13 and 3.51, respectively. This makes good intuitive sense — as your fastball drops in velocity, you have to work harder to get guys out, and often that involves throwing more pitches. That could be a problem for Jurrjens, who has been a three-pitch guy — fastball, slider, changeup — his whole career.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume for a minute that Jurrjens isn’t hurt and that he can continue to pitch effectively with a three-pitch mix that includes an 89 mph fastball, what does that make him worth? Last year, he was worth $6.9 million by our calculations so if he put up the same production this year, he would still likely be a good value for the Braves or whoever they trade him to, in a vacuum that is (FanGraphs’ Matt Swartz has Jurrjens pegged to make $5.1 million in arbitration). But the problem is that a trade would not occur in a vacuum. The team trading for Jurrjens would obviously have to give something up to get him. Initial reports suggested top Kansas City prospect Wil Myers as one of the targets. This is absurd. The other problem is that Jurrjens will once again be eligible for arbitration in 2013, and using his 2011 performance as a baseline for 2012, there is a good chance that he will not be worth his salary in 2013. This would make him either a non-tender candidate or an albatross. Either way, you wouldn’t want to trade six years of a potential star’s career for him.

The Braves are shopping Jurrjens with the luxury of saying that they are trying to make room for their young studs on the farm, which is probably a true statement. But it could also be they are shopping him because he is damaged goods, and that’s not good for potential trade partners. If he is healthy — and I would want my medical team to get a look at him for a physical before signing off on any trade — Jurrjens might regain what he once had, but what he once had wasn’t all that spectacular, and his current statistical profile of a league-average pitcher is the one he is likely to retain going forward. That does have value in a pitching-thin free agent market, but anyone looking to trade for Jurrjens with the hope that he is going to dominate — and gives up elite prospects commensurate with such a hope — is taking an awful risk, one that is not justified by anything other than blind faith.




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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for the Boston Globe. He has also written extensively for ESPN MLB Insider. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


79 Responses to “Jurrjens Isn’t Worth A Top Prospect”

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  1. Daniel says:

    To be fair to the Royals, the reports regarding Wil Myers/Lorenzo Cain originated with the Braves.

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  2. Eric Thames + MiLB arm for Jair Jurrjens.

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  3. Shawn says:

    He put up 6.9 mil in value in 3/4 of a season,.

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    • Tim says:

      Indeed he did.
      But next year his salary will probably be $2million higher and his performance will likely suffer if he comes to the AL.
      The next year he’ll probably get another $2million raise and likely see no improvement in performance.
      Compare that to a guy like Myers whose ceiling is probably what Alex Gordon did this year.
      That’s just not even close

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  4. Biased Fan says:

    As a Braves fan all I can say is – SHHHHHH! Paul.

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  5. BSally says:

    Unless I’m much mistaken, I recall reading somewhere that Jurrjens switched from using a four seam fastball predominantly to using a two seamer this year that he picked up from Hudson. Couldn’t that explain the drop in velocity?

    Anecdotally, the increase in movement on his fastball was definitely noticeable, as was a change in his approach-in prior seasons he’d challenge hitters with high fastballs far more often, whereas this past season he worked much lower in the zone.

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    • Jurrjens actually credited the new pitch to Jonny Venters.

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    • Mike Fast says:

      His fastball did not change much in movement from 2009 to 2011, nor did he throw a sinker with any noticeably greater frequency.

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      • BSally says:

        But he did throw 5% fewer fastballs this past season compared to 09 and 5% more sliders. The other thing is that I don’t think his FB has much more movement, it’s more a matter of him focusing on pitching lower in the zone than he has in years past.

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    • bonestock94 says:

      It’s very possible I’m mistaken, but I thought 2 seamers are typically faster than 4 seamers.

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      • TP Baseball says:

        Yes, you are mistaken. Four seam fastballs run faster, not to mention keep their speed over the 60’6″ distance thanks to their seams keeping the ball in a nice envelope of air as it travels. Whereas a two seam fastball comes out of the hand slower because it’s released with less force behind it, and has only two seams (hence the name) going through the air, creating less of an envelope for the ball, and allowing aerodynamic drag to slow it down more than a four seam fastball does as it travels towards the plate.

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      • Steve says:

        The difference isn’t huge, but as a rule, four-seamers are faster and two-seamers have more movement.

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  6. Reuben says:

    Does anyone who reads this site feel that he is? Who’s the audience here?

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  7. cthabeerman says:

    It was said often at the beginning of the season that Jurrjens’s drop in velocity was intentional. He decided to pitch to contact rather than focus on striking batters out, and his fastball has better movement at lower velocity. This allows him to throw the pitch on the edge to evoke swings that lead to softly-hit balls, thanks to the added movement.

    Given that he’s pitched alongside Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe the past couple years, this isn’t really a stretch of the imagination. He’s intentionally tried to focus more on pitching rather than throwing. He discussed this quite a bit earlier in the season as well as during interviews that led up to the All-Star Game.

    He also added another fastball to his repertoire that utilizes a grip similar to that of Jonny Venters’s power sinker. I think someone attributes it to Hudson above, but it was from Everyday Jonny.

    While his strikeout rate and velocity dropped, so did his walk rate, signaling that he’s continuing to improve his control, which is at least some evidence for the changes mentioned working as intended.

    The big question is can he maintain both health and effectiveness pitching with these changes. He started off the year inducing a comparable ton of GBs, but couldn’t keep it up. Worse, those GBs turned into LDs more often than not.

    Likewise, his pitch economy was unable to hold. Through his first real stinker of a game, a 5 1/3-inning outing on June 14, he averaged below 15 pitches/inning in all but one contest. From June 14 on, he achieved < 15 pitches/inning only once.

    I honestly can't say he's worth a top prospect at this point, either…which sucks, because I'm a Braves fan. It's hard to objectively state that he's worth that much, even when knowing how to correctly attribute his decline in velocity and strikeout rate.

    -C

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  8. Jordan says:

    You start out by noting that JJ has, over a sample north of 700 innings, outperformed his FIP by half a run. You then calculate his value using fWAR, which is FIP-based. Maybe JJ isn’t half a run better than his FIP, but after 700 IP, you’d have to say that he has at least some skill in outperforming his DIPS. What are the odds that an ERA-FIP gap this large over this large of a sample is purely luck-based? I haven’t run the numbers, but I’d hazard a guess that they’re not very high.

    bWAR has JJ at 3.8 wins last season, more than double his fWAR. Assuming his true talent is somewhere in the middle, he projects to be about a 2.5 win pitcher going forward. I’m far more comfortable with that as a median projection (assuming of course that he’s reaosnably healthy) than I would be with either 1.5 or 4 wins.

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    • NS says:

      It’d be a lot easier to believe he’ll outperform his FIP if his batted ball profiles weren’t so ugly (4.37 SIERA; 4.12 tERA).

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      • Jordan says:

        Me: JJ has been outperforming his DIPS for long enough that it’s time to give him some credit for doing so.

        You: Look at these other DIPS, which he’s outperforming by even more. Therefore, you’re wrong.

        Wut?

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      • NS says:

        I’m never very sure how seriously to take someone who, in support of a controversial position, cites a player’s 3.8 rWAR from one season but doesn’t mention the -0.1 rWAR from the year before it.

        Year 1 – Doesn’t outperform
        Year 2 – Outperforms
        Year 3 – Doesn’t outperform
        Year 4 – Outperforms

        Your conclusion: “you’d have to say that he has at least some skill in outperforming his DIPS”

        No, you wouldn’t. Jurrjens doesn’t outperform his DIPS with any consistency period, let alone at a level of consistency that would make it wise to bet on him as an exception to very well established rules.

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      • Jordan says:

        Career numbers, over 700 IP: 3.40 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 4.22 xFIP. Outperforms his DIPS, period. 700 IP is a large enough sample to where you have to start giving the pitcher some credit. Maybe not all, but certainly some.

        As for bWAR, a 5-4-3 weighting puts JJ at a shade under 3 wins next year. A 5-4-3 weighting of his fWAR puts him at a shade under 2 wins next year. So, once again, a median projection in the range of 2.5 wins seems right to me.

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      • NS says:

        ^Would you take the same position if a pitcher outperformed his DIPS stats for the first 350 innings and then failed to do so for the most recent 350? Whether or not you realize it, you are ignoring significant contextual information.

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      • Jordan says:

        There are of course times when it’s appropriate to put more emphasis on more (or less) recent performance. If, for instance, a pitcher recently added a pitch, it might be appropriate to weigh his more recent performances more heavily in projections. Or if a hitter played through an injury, it might make sense to place less weight on his performance while injured.

        The problem is, it’s extremely difficult for baseball ‘outsiders’ to identify when small samples should be given extra weight. The safest way to project future performance is generally to use something like a 5-4-3 weighting of a 3 year sample. So, absent strong reason to deviate from that formula, I don’t.

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  9. tcnjsteve says:

    Stories like this make me more amazed by Tom Glavine’s career. Not only did he lack velocity, but he also threw for-the-most-part only 2 pitches

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    • Mike Fast says:

      Glavine did an incredible job of expanding the edges of the zone by having fantastic command. He’s the only pitcher in the PITCHf/x era who was better than Mariano Rivera at pitching to the corners.

      I agree that it is very impressive that he was able to do that basically without a breaking ball and with well-below-average fastball speed.

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  10. shred the gnar says:

    Jurrjens got lucky last season but he’s also an extremely intelligent pitcher. Also Jonny Venters taught him a new grip at the beginning on the season as someone mentioned above. He did in fact talk about changing his pitching philosophy in at least some capacity early in the ’11 season.

    I’m not trying to be a smartass, but at what point do you determine if Jurrjens is just really lucky or legitimately able to outperform his FIP/xFIP? He’s got 702 MLB innings of 3.40 ball.

    Yes I’m being a Braves homer, and yes I want this trade to happen.

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    • NS says:

      “at what point do you determine if Jurrjens is just really lucky or legitimately able to outperform his FIP/xFIP?”

      At a minimum, when he does it more than twice in four years.

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  11. Expos67 says:

    Wow, talk about bad timing for this article. I’m about to trade Jurrjens for a top prospect and a back-end MLB starter in a keeper league. I hope the other guy isn’t reading this blog…

    Oh btw, nice article Mr.Swydan.

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  12. willy says:

    As already stated. Jurrjens’ velocity drop was and has been intentional as he has decided to be more of a contact pitcher.

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  13. JG says:

    After how many years are you supposed to start suspecting that a player outperforming his peripherals year after year may not be fluky, like everyone has with Matt Cain?

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    • NS says:

      To paraphrase: at a minimum, when he does it more than one season in a row.

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    • acerimusdux says:

      Only 3 years, really. Years in a row is not that important. We know for a fact that ERA is a better predictor of future ERA than xFIP or SIERA, once you have a 3 year sample.

      Jurrjens at this point is a 120 ERA+ career pitcher with just over 700 innings of data. The peripherals suggest he isn’t that good, but the truth is likely somewhere in between, say a 110 ERA+ level. Which is to say even if he’s had some luck there, he’s probably still an above average starter, if healthy.

      The real issue here isn’t the peripherals. It’s the “if healthy”. I have no doubt Jurrjens was really at least a +2.5 WAR per season pitcher at least over the past 4 seasons. But given the velocity drop and the string of injuries over the last two years, shoulder, hamstring, knee, the latter of which has been an issue now for more than a year, I wouldn’t value him as more than a +1.5 WAR guy going forward.

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  14. Paul says:

    There is no way in hell Myers will be in this deal, which I do think will happen. So let’s work off of that obvious understanding. The Braves are really in a tough spot in that they have virtually nothing in their system for offensive prospects. To get fair value for any of their excess starters, they’d have to deal a really coveted young guy. Since that’s obviously not the case, they’ll have to accept a package of maybe three guys out of the likes of Lorenzo Cain, David Lough, Jeff Bianchi, Rey Navarro. I think the Royals are going to be a little squeezed heading into the Rule 5 Draft, so I can see them willing to give up three guys who are possible regulars after a few years coming off the bench.

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    • cthabeerman says:

      The Braves aren’t in a tough spot at all. Frank Wren has consistently stated that he doesn’t need to trade any pitching. He’s perfectly fine going forward with what they have in the rotation and keeping players in the minors. If teams want to trade, they’re going to have to pony up.

      While standing pat is probably not the best alternative, it isn’t going to greatly hurt the team. Eventually, someone’s going to come calling.

      -C

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      • Paul says:

        Disagreeing. When pitching takes over as it has in the past few years, pitchers in general become more fungible. Why wouldn’t any team just sign Bruce Chen to 1 year with an option? The Braves are going to wind up “ponying up” for an average regular offensive player instead, while still only getting a handful of meh guys for Jurrjens no matter what.

        Just look at Fister. While I think Jack Z. choked on that one, just look at how little a legit #3 fetches these days. In the world of diligent umpires, just about anybody can be a #3, including Everett Teaford and Luis Mendoza for the Royals.

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      • Steve says:

        With the notable exception of the Escobar trade, Wren has shown a willingness to be patient if a trade possibility isn’t up to snuff. It can be boring and a tease for rumor junkies (like myself), but as a fan, it’s good to know he isn’t overly trigger happy on trades.

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  15. Paul says:

    Just want to add regarding his strikeouts per nine. At first glance I wondered how 5.33 could be nearly two below the league average. League average for starters last year was actually 6.75. The 7.13 you probably saw included relievers. I was actually still surprised that it was that high for starters. It’s been creeping up for several years, from all the way down to 6.04 in 2005.

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    • Drew says:

      In somewhat related news, Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds had their first full seasons in the bigs in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

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  16. Hamilton McGill says:

    Paul,

    I’m glad for you that as a baseball fan, you’ve had some of your writings published by several sabermetric dominated sites/publications. However it doesn’t appear you give much credence to the scouting side of baseball, and thus your writing is very skewed in one direction. Aren’t you concerned your writing won’t be taken very seriously by those who don’t fully subscribe to the limits of the saber perspective?

    I will admit to being a huge Braves fan, but I savagely disagree with your assessment of Jair Jurrjens. You seem to totally discount the continued success of finesse pitchers similar to JJ such as: C.Lee, S. Marcum, W. Rodriguez, T. Hudson, R. Wolf, and C. Carpenter, and that’s just in the N.L. Do you have no regard for a pitcher’s ability to command the strike zone, locate pitches low, disrupt a batter’s timing, and produce ground balls, if those pitchers don’t
    fit your saber formulas?

    As for rating JJ specifically, you make no mention of the fact he has said he pitches to contact intentionally. You also gloss over the fact he’s dealt with knee injuries the last two years, which you don’t have to be a doctor to know obviously greatly affect his velocity. I’m very disappointed in the fact you let your own biases cloud your writing about JJ, and aren’t able to give a balanced and well informed view of his abilities and past success.

    You also fall victim to overrating minor league prospects, who have by the nature of their status not proven themselves in the majors. Will Myers has already been moved from C to OF by the Royals, a position at which they’re now stocked at the ML level, and he obviously had a down year offensively. I’d have to believe Baseball America’s assessment of Myers and Royals prospects in general, over your beliefs.

    Paul, I also fear you don’t have a true handle on the market of available starting pitching this off season. After a few pitchers such as CJ Wilson, and possibly Buehrle and Oswalt, there isn’t great quality available. This only increases JJ’s value, as does his being a consistent winner for 3 of the last 4 seasons.

    I can tell from the tone of your writing that you’re not used to having your views challenged, especially from an old-school,scouting perspective. Thus I don’t expect you to answer my comments. However as a 35 year fan of the Braves and baseball in general, I believe it’s important for saber disciples like you to be jilted out of your comfort zone to a more balanced view of baseball that also appreciates the scouting perspective.

    Hope you can demonstrate a more open mind,

    Hamilton McGill

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    • chiefglockandhummer says:

      i’m a huge braves fan, and this dude’s trolling.

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    • Geoffrey says:

      @Hamilton

      1. How can you sing the praises of scouting in valuing Jair Jurrjens yet discount scouts’ perceived potential of Wil Myers in the face of his statistically poor, injury-riddled 2011 season? Seems like you’re cherry-picking.
      2. I think everyone is well aware of the shoddy FA starting pitching crop this off-season. Given the dearth of viable FA options, the Royals should use their greatest asset, the farm system, rather than compete with organizations with deeper pockets and overpay. Value is still value.
      3. “Being a consistent winner” Jair Jurrjens just knows how to win (even if it’s only for 3/4 of a season)!

      @chiefglockandhummer
      If this dude is trolling, he wasted too much time crafting an argument in 450 words.

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    • ofMontreal says:

      Thanks Hamilton. I agree with a lot of what you say here although you obviously know you are speaking Catholic in a Christian church. It’s a saber site, what do you expect?

      Having got that out of the way, it’s suspicious that the Braves are shopping Jurrjens. And considering their(ATL) track record of dumping people right before the crash, I’d only offer another high risk player in exchange. As evidence of ATL speciousness I offer the names of players they wish to acquire. JJ hasn’t pitched a whole season yet and throws in a pitchers park. He grades as a solid 3 starter at best until he proves otherwise. You simply don’t trade top prospects for that.

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      • Mr. Sanchez says:

        The Braves are willing to move Jurrjens for money, that’s the primary part of it. They may be wary of reoccuring injuries to his knee, but it’s primarily money. We have Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado ready to go, for the league minimum. We had a middle of the pack, limited pay roll. So, we can pay Jurrjens $5m or so to start, or pay 10% of that to Teheran or Delgado. If Tommy Hanson was in his arb years, and Jurrjens still on minimum contract, you’d see his name instead. But he didn’t reach super 2, and will still be cheap, so the money saving move for a team on a budget is Jurrjens.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Sanchez, I don’t think we’d see Jurrjens name if they thought his Cy Young-esque first half numbers were repeateable or even close to repeatable. I think the braves think Jurrjens will be league average or merely “good” as a ceiling. If he were borderline elite like he’s numbers have occassionally shown glimpses of, 5M is a bargain.

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    • acerimusdux says:

      Hamilton, maybe you should pay some attention to some actual scouting if you would prefer to emphasize a scouting perspective. For example, Baseball America had Wil Myers ranked the 10th best prospect in baseball entering the year, and in their mid-season top 50, in July, they ranked Will Meyers # 17 in all of baseball. He has impressed recently in the Arizona Fall League, where John Manuel had this to say:

      ” Several other players impressed with their BP turns other than Harper. Royals farmhand Wil Myers struggled during the regular season, but you couldn’t tell by the way he’s swinging it in the AFL. He’s hitting .384/.505/.685 with five doubles, four triples and three home runs, and the coaches on the West all-stars said his hands are as quick as anyone in the league. He had easy power in BP.”
      http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/2011/11/rising-stars-game-from-afl/

      And mlb.com has him #15 overal, and says this:

      ” Myers was one of the more intriguing high school bats in the Draft class of 2009, and he’s more than lived up to that advanced billing. He’s got great bat speed, which should continue to generate more power than he’s already shown. His plate discipline is much more advanced than most hitters his age, and he should hit for plenty of average in the future. His bat isn’t his question; his ultimate defensive home is. While he’s athletic and has a strong arm, his overall catching game has developed slowly, and there’s some merit to thinking that a move to the outfield would speed his path to the big leagues.

      Upside potential: A middle-of-the-order run-producing, on-base machine, joining Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer as a very dangerous, and fun-to-watch, trio.”

      Meanwhile the scouting on Jurrjens looks more like this, from TSN:
      http://tsn.ca/mlb/teams/players/bio/?id=5337

      “Assets Uses several fastballs well, and a curve that is more of a cutter. Keeps hitters constantly guessing and knows how to pitch.
      Flaws Doesn’t own an ideal pitchers’ frame, so stamina is an issue. Must also curb his occasional bouts of wildness.
      Career potential Solid starter with upside, when healthy. ”

      And this is what Alex Eisenberg wrote in 2008:

      http://www.baseball-intellect.com/Articles/most-underrated-prospects.html

      ‘Red Flags

      Jurrjens has a couple red flags but the big one is injuries. Will Carroll from Baseball Prospectus said this about Jurrjen’s, who sufferred an injury after a few starts at the MLB level:

      “Although the young pitcher’s shoulder appeared to do something on the mound, an MRI Sunday evening showed no damage significant enough to require surgery. You can read that as a Grade II strain, likely of the rotator cuff. Jurrjens has a history of shoulder strains in the minors, but MLB.com reports that the previous pain he had was lower, while this pain is in the back. Every symptom points to an acute cuff problem as the result of seasonal fatigue, though he’s at about the same innings level that he’s been at the previous two seasons. Jurrjens may have a ceiling on his workload.”

      Mechanics

      So, judging by his injury report, do his mechanics show anything we should be worried about? Lets take a look.

      His tempo is solid and he hides the ball well. His fastball gets on you quick. But his arm action gives me major pause.

      Notice how he loads up toward second and lets the ball pick up the elbow. This isn’t a good thing. Jurrjens’ current arm action leads to increased stress on the elbow and shoulder.

      Jurrjens also suffers from a somewhat abrupt finish. On the plus side, he does repeat his delivery well. Jurrjens will have to make adjustments to his arm action and strengthen his rotator cuff if he is to prevent injury in the future. Jurrjens’ athleticism will make this an easier thing to do.

      The Bottom Line

      Health is a major red flag, but with his youth and athleticism plus the combination of his good stuff and plus command, Jurrjens has the upside of a #3/2 starter, which is higher than the back of the rotation projection Jurrjens has been labeled with thus far.’

      I would say that turned out to be pretty spot on. He appears to have been a #3/#2 SP for awhile, but the lack of durability has really hurt his value. You really can’t count on him for even 150 IP at this point. I don’t think that’s worth Wil Myers.

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  17. Antonio Bananas says:

    If the Braves are shopping JJ, he’s damaged. The Braves access their own talent better than anyone.

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    • Boston Braves Fan says:

      Umm what? The Braves have 7 viable starting pitchers. How does the fact that they want to move one of the more expensive ones mean that he’s damaged? A JJ trade has been coming for a long time, seeing as how they can’t move Hudson and won’t move Hanson.

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      • Adam says:

        Yeah, this whole “he must be injured” hypothesis is too cute by half. They have a logjam at SP, with cheaper and possibly better options available. Meanwhile, they have several other positions to fill with only $10 million (or so) to do it. It makes sense to shop Jurrjens.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        If they thought JJ had a shot at being elite, he wouldn’t be traded. They don’t think he’s worth 5M and they don’t think he’s better than the other guys they have. At least not that much better.

        I think either he’s injured or they don’t think he’ll ever be anything more than “good”. Either that or they think highly of the other pitchers.

        If they thought JJ was really good, they could easily trade the unproven younger guys. Sure it’s partly money, but if JJ was near elite, 5M isn’t too much to pay.

        Braves know their own talent, JJ isn’t that good or is injury prone.

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      • Rob says:

        Hudson is older and makes more money. Yet it is Jurrjens they are talking about moving.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        Rob, are you agreeing with me? No talk of moving Hudson because Hudson is going to be harder to move. Which is a team going to get? A young guy who’s fairly cheap and has shown signs of being really good or an older player who’s pretty expensive and probably declining?

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      • cthabeerman says:

        Rob, Hudson also has 10/5 rights and is pitching for the team he’d like to retire with, if they’ll keep him for that long. He can’t be moved.

        -C

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  18. Hunter says:

    Hamilton -
    Ironic that you implore the author to have a more open mind, when it appears that you yourself seem about as close minded as it gets….

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  19. Paul says:

    So the realization for me that SO/9 had increased so much recently leads me to plead with Paul Swyden or someone else to do a piece on this.

    We know that Questec was implemented in 2000 and umpires hated it. We also know that offense generally started to decline around 2002, and some analysis suggests that Questec worked. If we leave the steroid issue out this, which will really just inject endless strawman arguments and trolling, I think we can determine the most important point about the re-implementation of the traditional strike zone: Are pitchers who specifically pitch to contact and do it successfully now more likely to have success, and therefore be more valuable than they were five or ten years ago?

    The advantage has clearly been with pitchers since 2007, and to an even greater extent since 2009. Two things happened here. In 2006 Pitchf/x was implemented during the playoffs and starting being installed in parks across the league the next year. In 2009, the umpires started using a similar system in their grading, which replaced Questec and is apparently more acceptable to them. So did Questec improve so that we see this trend toward pitching really starting in 2007, or – a really interesting question to me – did umpires start using MLB Gameday to evaluate their performance independent of the grading system? And if they did, did it lead them then to be more sophisticated about how the new system works, which is similar to Pitchf/x?

    Anyway, I think given the really huge change in advantage toward pitchers, especially over the past two years, it would be very useful to know just how much the re-implementation of the strike zone was responsible. I’m sure this has been done elsewhere, but I think it’s important to know how purposeful this change has been because then we’ll know if it’s likely to continue. I know that changes in the outlook of umpires could be difficult to discern, but surely one of these new writers can penetrate the mysterious world of umpires and get some answers. That’s my shameless plea for the day.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Are you saying that it’s a bad thing that umpires have more ways to (hopefully) better themselves even if it means lower scoring games because of a more fairly called zone or are you saying that the reason guys like JJ are more valued now is, in part due to the new system?

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      • Paul says:

        I’m not sure where in that post that I indicated an opinion either way. I just think it’s an interesting phenomenon. And I didn’t say he’s more valued now, I was asking the question.

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  20. Scott says:

    Few things.

    Marcum got Lawrie. In Toronto Marcum posted a 7.5 fWAR in 592 innings Jurrjens has posted a 10.1 fWAR in 792 innings. So they have similar per inning WAR values, that’s using fWAR

    Also call it more than a hunch but I’m pretty sure Jurrjens had a bum knee for the last month or 2 of the season. It was in those months he struggled. IIRC before the Break his FIP was right around 3.

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    • Paul says:

      I think it’s worth noting that Lorenzo Cain was a pretty important part of the Greinke deal. He’d be the Royals starting CFer if not for the inexplicable success of the Melky/Frenchy experiment. The Braves are right to value him, but it seems that with this talk of Myers being a bridge too far, by comparison we’re starting to think of Cain as just a guy. I think both orgs view him more highly than that. I absolutely think this deal gets done, but it may have to be after the Rule 5 after the Royals try to sneak through guys like Elisaul Pimentel and Rey Navarro, who are much more valuable if they’re not on the 40 man.

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  21. Marcum did all that in the AL East facing NYY/BOS/TB a third of the time. As well, even with a year in the NL Central Marcum has thrown 60 more innings vs. teams with a .500+ winning % than against teams under .500. Jurrjens, on the other hand, has thrown 70 more innings vs. teams under .500 compared to over. Furthermore, Marcum was scheduled to make about 1.5m less than Jurrjens in year 1 on his new team, and presumably even more after that. When you consider these factors and the fact that Lawrie wasn’t even THAT highly rated of a prospect (37 for Law, 40 for BA, 57 for BP) this article makes a lot of sense.

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    • Paul says:

      And while Lawrie is clearly a good player and may be a star at 3B, before this season he was viewed as a very good prospect who was sort of a tweener, who some thought could not even make it at 3B. Myers has already made the position switch and now that he’s healthy, reports are he’s much improved. Plus the assessments of his offensive potential have always been more positive than Lawrie’s (again, going into this season). Myers as a guy who struggled in AA and was hurt is a more valuable prospect than Lawrie was going into last offseason, not by a lot, but still.

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  22. Scott says:

    So, I don’t know a ton about Lorenzo Cain other than that he was part of the Greinke deal. Is he considered a top prospect? Or even a prospect anymore? And what’s the forecast on him long-term?

    If he can be a solid corner bat, I’m more than willing to let go of Jurrjens in a potential deal. The Braves stole Jurrjens for Zombie Renteria, I’d say they’ve already milked a decent amount of surplus value out of him. Might be time to deal him, add another piece and open up another spot for an even younger arm.

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    • ecp says:

      Cain is officially “not a prospect” by virtue of his having 147 major league ABs in 2010. Hard to say how he’s regarded by prospect folks any more because of that, since they don’t discuss him any more. He’s an excellent defensive center fielder with good pop. Would have definitely been Milwaukee’s starting CFer this year if not for the Greinke trade. Would have been in KC already were it not for Melky Cabrera’s inexplicable year. Will not be traded now that the Royals have traded Melky…and you can absolutely forget Myers in a Jurrjens deal.

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      • Scott says:

        Yeah, all the Myers talk is ridiculous, especially for Jurrjens. GMDM has made some questionable moves, but that would just be awful.

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  23. Ian says:

    According to Tom Glavine JJ’s drop in velocity is from a conscious effort to locate his pitches better and induce weak contact (which he did very well) and not worry about the bat missing the ball.

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    • NS says:

      He didn’t actually do that well, though; that’s quite the point. 2011 featured the highest tERA and SIERA of his career.

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  24. Finnesse says:

    WOW. There is nothing more entertaining than reading the baseball summations of geeks rocking Ashberger’s syndrome. Bottom line is that JJ’s drop in velocity was intentional upon the advice of Greg Maddux – which has been OPENLY discussed by JJ, Glavine, BCox, etc. Remember, Maddux was not an overpowering strikeout pitcher, but he rarely walked batters or gave up home runs. THIS is also JJ’s style. There was a REASON JJ made the 2011 All Star team and it WAS NOT due to geek stats or lack thereof. THE FACTS vs STATS: The reason JJ struggled 1/2 of 2010 was due to a torn meniscus which was successfully repaired. HOWEVER – 2011′s struggle was due to the inadequate rehab instruction he was provided regarding the critical strengtening of the quad muscles supporting the knee. When JJ went to Colorado for a 2nd opinion he was given a custom brace specifically structured to support the knee and lift the weak quad muscle up which lifted the BONE up that was cutting into the repaired/healing meniscus. He was also provided with THE CORRECT strengthening/rehab processes. When that happened – JJ’s 91mph velocity IMMEDIATELY returned. BUT…No suprise – YA LEFT THAT PART OUT of your “impressive’ math calcs! PLAY BALL! .

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      But clearly the best way to value a pitcher who tries to use his defense is to use defense independent metrics.

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  25. Joey B says:

    It’s easy enough to explain any drop in velocity by the decision to pitch to contact. And if I saw a lot less walks, maybe I’d buy it. But he has the same K/W ration he’s always had.

    If I were a buyer, I’d be very reluctant.

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  26. Jay says:

    There’s talk about the Braves wanting Nuñez +1 from the Yankees for Jurrjens. As a Yankee fan (desperately need a quality SP), I’d do the trade straight up, but if that +1 is any prospect with any chance of being a quality MLBer, no thanks.

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  27. Tomas says:

    Fangraphs stats don’t work on establishing fair value on pitch to contact guys.

    Tom Glavine HOF 300 game winner career WAR 68.5, highest WAR 1991(won Cy) 5.7.

    Randy Johnson HOF 300 game winner career WAR 114.7, highest WAR 2001(won CY) 10.7.

    That’s just an example on how much better WAR values you when you are a strikeout pitcher. I think Randy was a better pitcher than Glavine, but not by that much a 46.2 difference in WAR when actually Glavine had even more wins than Randy. I’ll admit W-L records are a crappy stat now, but not back then.

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