Beware the Verducci Effect

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

If you root for the Marlins, by necessity you must be wary of the Verducci effect, first postulated by SI scribe Tom Verducci (he humbly calls in the Year-After Effect). As he explains it:

The unofficial industry standard is that no young pitcher should throw more than 30 more innings than he did the previous season. It's a general rule of thumb, and one I've been tracking for about a decade. When teams violate the incremental safeguard, it's amazing how often they pay for it.

Pitchers generally feel the effects of abusive increases in workload the next year, not the season in which they were pushed. In other words, you might be able to finish that marathon for which you didn't properly train, but your body will have hell to pay for it. I call it the Year After Effect.

Here's the way I track it: Find major league pitchers 25-and-under who broke the 30-inning rule. In some cases a pitcher's innings the previous season may have been artificially depressed, such as by injury, so I'll use his professional high for the baseline, or, in the case of a recent draftee like Kennedy, his college workload. All innings count (minors, majors, postseason).

Verducci writes an column every year pointing out which young pitchers could feel the Verducci effect, and he has a pretty decent track record. Many of the players he identifies either get injured or see their ERAs inflate. He correctly predicted Anibal Sanchez to be a Verducci Effect Victim in 2007. When your favorite team employs a number of under-25 starters who throw hard, you better believe the Verducci Effect will screw with the rotation.

Apropos of this, I'm noticing a certain potential for some serious schadenfreude potential connected to Phillies ace Cole Hamels' strained elbow. On Beyond The Boxscore, Peter Bendix listed the following pitchers as potential Verducci Effect victims:
  • John Lester
  • Cole Hamels
  • Chad Billingsley
  • John Danks
  • Mike Pelfrey
  • Tim Lincecum
  • Jair Jurrjens
Hamels is already experiencing some discomfort in his elbow this spring. Can Hamels become the next victim? Marlins fans are certainly hoping so, and Phillies fans should be worried.

As for the Marlins? Most of their starters were injured at some point last year, so they probably aren't susceptible to the Verducci effect. Keep an eye on Ricky Nolasco, though. He is 26, so not eligible for Verducci Effect watch lists, but he pitched 212 1/3 innings in 2008 after pitching 21 1/3 innings in an injury-shortened 2007. Here's hoping he can avoid a dropoff in 2009...

h/t Walkoff Walk


Post a Comment

  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by 2009

Back to TOP