The Top 10 Pitchers

Like the bats, folks were overwhelmingly in agreement about the top three arms in the Washington Nationals minors. Unlike a year ago, though, the range was smaller — just 22 different pitchers versus 30 — and there were four guys that were named on every ballot.

OK, enough vamping. Let’s rock this, pitch:

                              1. Lucas Giolito
                              2. A.J. Cole
                              3. Sammy Solis
                              4. Nathan Karns
                              5. Jake Johansen
                              6. Aaron Barrett
                              7. Matt Purke
                              8. Austin Voth
                              9. Christian Garcia
                              10. Richie Mirowski

Others receiving votes: Blake Schwartz, Jefry Rodriguez, Taylor Hill, Hector Silvestre, Travis Ott, Erik Davis, Pedro Encarnacion, Brett Mooneyham, Wander Suero, Nick Lee, Neil Holland, Blake Treinen

Now the observations…

• Giolito was the top dog on 12 of the 13 ballots, with Cole getting the other first-place vote. Giolito was the #1 last year, too, despite coming off UCL-replacement surgery in August 2012.

• Cole was the Mary Ann to Ging, er… Giolito on 11 of the possible 12 second-place votes. It would have been interesting to see if that would have been true had Robbie Ray not been traded away.

• Voth and Garcia tied in raw points, but I broke the tie by the pitcher who was named on more ballots (nine vs. seven).

• Two of the top three old maids (i.e. the near misses) were righthanded control artists who don’t throw in the mid-90s. Not sure if the bias is against the lower velocity, the low K rate, or the soap-opera first name (just kidding).

The list continues to skews older (five are 25+) and upper minors (also five), which has been a consistent bias since this experiment in crowdsourcing began in 2011. But like all things hot stove, the point is to pass the time — none of this is really significant, statistically or otherwise — while winter sets its claws in and local schools overreact to snowfall that wouldn’t get a chihuahua’s belly wet.

Next up: The Rule 5 draft, which for the Nationals, has become an exercise of wondering who’s going versus who’s arriving.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

9 thoughts on “The Top 10 Pitchers”

  1. The ‘old maid’ moniker is appropriate with the Nats, as Rizzo has laways had an infatuation with power.
    This despite the fact that 2014 will see 2 pitchers who couldn’t break a plane of glass are going to be 1st ballot Hall of Famers.

    1. Maddox actually threw in the low 90’s for much of his career; it wasn’t until the last few years that he was pure guile.

      More importantly, to call Rizzo “infatuated” with power arms really ignores the fact that he just traded three prospects for a guy who throws 88-89. He prefers power arms, which is understandable. While there are some pitchers who get by on guile, changing speeds and control, the margin for error is much smaller – which makes the degree of difficulty for success much higher. Many of those soft tossers become Yunesky Maya or (likely) Danny Rosenbaum. I.e., “not major league pitchers.”

      1. I don’t think “infatuated” is by any means an exaggeration, as evidenced by how long he held onto Kimball, Henry Rodriguez, waited for Mattheus (and has yet to part ways with), or signed one-pitch pitchers like Hector Nelo or Joe Bisenius.

        As for Rosenbaum, his control problems started roughly the same time his velocity jumped from the high-80s to the low-90s. This is not to say that he would have succeeded had he stayed at that speed, but we’re still waiting for Rizzo to hold onto an in-house candidate that fits Fister’s descriptions for velocity and control, never mind whether or not he generates groundballs (before you reply with Taylor Hill, his GO/AO ratio is less than half of Rosenbaum’s).

        1. Meh. You say “infatuated,” I say “preference.” The difference is the connotation of “infatuation” – that it is an illogical, blind reaction rather than a reasoned one. It’s not unreasonable to find that power pitchers have a higher MLB success rate than finesse pitchers, and so lean towards them when analyzing talent. The acquisition of Fister (for two power arms in Krol and Ray, btw) tells me that, while Rizzo clearly prefers power, he will make exceptions where warranted.

          1. Simply put, power is easier to project, and also to “dream on,” as they say in Moneyball. It’s also harder to control and to maintain. It’s also easier to trade, a la Cole, Meyer, and Ray over the last three off-season. Of course Milone is the only one of the trio of pitchers whom Oakland kept, soon flipping the power guys. But yes, I was pleased to see the Nats pick up Fister. It will be interesting to see if his success can flow through the organization.

            The Nats also seem to be going much more with college pitchers in recent years, which by all metrics is the better bet. The top two on the top ten above are high school guys, but of the remaining eight, only Garcia (not drafted by the Nats) didn’t go to college.

  2. Told you Billy Burns would get traded. Right state, wrong team. But with Billy Ball it makes sense. .430 OBP is something that some other team would want. Good luck to Billy Burns. When he has played a few more seasons batting left handed the Nats will regret this one.

    1. Meh. I saw a number of people lament when Bill Rhinehart and Chris Manno (of “Manno’s Minions”) were traded, how the Nats would regret that. Just two years later Rhinehart seems to be out of baseball and Manno has been underwhelming-to-lousy at AA since the trade. I don’t sense many regrets there. Burns feels like a fourth OF type to me at best. Might the Nats regret it? It’s possible, I suppose. But I very much doubt that Rizzo loses sleep over this trade, now or later.

      1. I agree – the Nats had a surplus of CFs (though he’s better suited to LF for the same reason Whiting was) and not all of them were going to make it up to DC. If anything, you should *want* a player traded away to do well because if he doesn’t sooner or later, teams will stop wanting to trade with Washington. Billy Beane is given lots of props for savvy trades, but he’s usually dealt players who are talented and performed well for their new teams.

    2. Burns is very good at what he does–getting on base and stealing bases. But his lack of power, particularly at a corner OF position, means that he will have a difficult time cracking a MLB lineup. He might have made a few call-up appearances with the Nats like Eury Perez has, but he wouldn’t have figured significantly in their plans. I don’t think he will in Oakland, either, or with any contender, but I also don’t think Beane will sit on him. His best opportunity would be with a noncontender that doesn’t have a lot of money.

      We can certainly wish Burns well, appreciate the entertaining minor-league career he has had in the Nats organization, and be glad for him that he’s going to a team that will value his OBP. But there’s somewhat of a leap from that to thinking the big club missed out on a potential everyday player.

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