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Kris Medlen’s 2013: Looking Ahead with Comparables

Posted By Mississippi Matt Smith On September 24, 2012 @ 1:30 pm In Uncategorized | 7 Comments

You’re all familiar by now with Kris Medlen. By just about any measure, he’s been the most dominant starter of the last couple of months of 2012. So dominant, in fact, that anxious Braves fans and skeptical Braves foes everywhere are terrified and smugly convinced, respectively, that Meds is too good to be true. Barring a total meltdown over his last few starts, this season is going to go in the books as an extraordinary one for the Braves’ unlikely hero. So the question now becomes: what should we expect from him in 2013?

Extrapolating from Medlen’s short career to date won’t be much help, since he’s logged so little time in the bigs, and since much of that time has been spent pitching out of the bullpen. Instead, then, I went looking for the the most similar players I could find. Meds was born on October 7, 1985, in Artesia, California. So I started by identifying all Libras from Los Angeles County with green, blue, or hazel eye color and a surname beginning with the letter M. Given Kris’s somewhat unorthodox profile, it won’t surprise anyone that it’s a pretty short list: Mark McGwire, Kevin Millar, and Randy Moffitt. Next, I looked at each player’s second full even-numbered season in the major leagues (which of course Medlen is just completing), and compared it to their next season. The results are striking:

Name Season WAR
Mark McGwire 1990 6.0
1991 1.9
Kevin Millar 2002 1.6
2003 0.5
Randy Moffitt 1974 0.7
1975 0.1
Kris Medlen 2012 3.7
2013 ?

On average, players fitting Medlen’s profile experienced a dropoff in value of nearly 75% following their second full even-numbered season. The consistency of the phenomenon is remarkable. Although there’s an exception to every rule, the prognosis is not good for the Braves and their emerging star. If the pattern holds, Medlen will be fortunate to post 1 WAR over the course of the next season, and may well find himself back where he started: on the outside of a major league rotation, looking in.

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