Debate and Analysis: Who’s Real Stats are These?

Are these the stats of a major league pitching prospect?

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Can you guess who’s minor league pitching stats these are? And are these minor league stats that were compiled almost entirely in AAA baseball good enough to call this pitcher a prospect? Based upon these AAA minor league stats do you think this guy can pitch on the major league level?

Before I show you the stats I’ll mention that these stats belong to what I believe is one of the highest paid players in the minor leagues today. In my opinion these stats do clearly show that this guy can pitch on the major league level with moderate success. OK here are the stats.

In 233.2 innings and 37 starts, a 20-11 record with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, 7.5 K’s per 9 innings and 2.4 BB’s per 9 innings. That’s a 3.1 K to BB ratio.

These stats clearly indicate a decent major league pitching prospect don’t you think? A pitcher with very good control and decent ability to strikeout batters. If we add 18% to this pitcher’s minor league ERA to adjust for the major leagues being tougher we arrive at an ERA of 4.09. The major league average ERA in 2007 and 2008 was 4.39. So this pitcher’s adjusted minor league ERA would translate out to 93% of the major league ERA. (18% is about the average difference between the minor leagues and major leagues and this pitcher was active in the minors for only the last two years.)

So what do you think? Could this guy pitch successfully on the major league level?

I’ve already said I believe his stats do easily translate out to someone who can pitch somewhat successfully on the major league level. In fact this guy has been given some chances to pitch at the major league level and he has not been successful yet but was not given much of a chance. In just 16 total games and 13 starts he has a 2-4 record with a 6.66 ERA but he did shut out the Boston Red Sox for 6 or 7 innings in one start.

If you have not already guessed the stats belong to Japanese import Kei Igawa of the New York Yankees. Igawa was given a 4 year contract worth $4 million per year which makes him one of the highest paid players in the minors. In his Japanese career Igawa has a 86-60 record with a 3.15 ERA with a 2.97 K to BB ratio. In my opinion Igawa can pitch with some success on the major league level if he’s ever given the chance. But the Yankees have never really given him a chance. They gave him a few starts 2007 but pulled the plug on him when he was not doing well and never really gave him a fair chance to adjust his game. They buried him in the minors in 2008 where he pitched well for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees AAA affiliate club.

The Yankees are the most Win Now team in baseball and have little or no patience in developing young pitching talent outside of Joba Chamberlain. When Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy struggled in the majors after posting stellar minor league stats the Yankees showed little patience and banished both back down to the minor leagues. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2009 will likely have Hughes, Kennedy and Igawa making up 3/5 of its rotation and any one of the three could easily pitch successfully in the majors in 2009.

I’m hoping the Yankees will trade Igawa this year and he gets a real chance to pitch in a major league rotation for a full year and prove that the stats he compiled in Japan and in AAA are no fluke.

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