WTNYMay 17, 2006
What They Have Done For Us Lately
By Bryan Smith

Last week in this space, I took a different look at the nation's best college hitters: examining each by their Friday Night performance. Given this split information, we could quickly identify the players performing at the highest levels against their best competition. Suddenly, qualms about Matt Antonelli's performance against top programs were erased.

My goal entering this week was to unveil another collegiate stat, this time allowing us to look at pichers in a different way. However, today offers no new statistic, no rock turned over for the first time. However, in my game log pursuits, I did realize a quick-and-dirty system for evaluating one of the most important qualities for a top draft pick: momentum.

Ask Lance Broadway, who went from third round material to becoming a first round choice in a matter of weeks. Broadway has been good this season, validating the selection that many called a reach. However, each year it seems a pitcher rises in May up draft boards wih a good few weeks.

Today, we will be looking at how the top ten pitchers in the country have done in their last five appearances. Now this group has been, for the most part, considered first round talent from the get-go, today is merely to introduce the style. In the coming weeks, I will profile more pitchers as we try to identify this year's Broadway.

For their last five weeks, I have compiled each pitcher's counting stats, as well as two other factors. I will provide the average ISR for the opponents faced over that time period, as well as the average game score in the last five weeks. Game score is not perfect, but it's the best method in providing perspective with the dominance of an outing. Baseball's top ten pitchers...

Name School IP H ER K BB ISR Ave GS
Brad Lincoln Houston 38.0 28 7 49 8 97.2 71.4 GS
Greg Reynolds Stanford 40.0 31 10 35 10 31.4 66.0 GS
Tim Lincecum Washington 35.0 36 12 57 15 43.6 64.6 GS
Dave Huff UCLA 45.1 40 15 33 6 41.2 63.8 GS
Brandon Morrow California 36.1 36 7 33 13 25.0 63.4 GS
Kyle McCulloch Texas 28.0 32 9 23 7 46.4 57.2 GS
Daniel Bard North Carolina 30.1 26 9 28 13 85.8 55.6 GS
Andrew Miller North Carolina 36.2 34 10 26 13 85.8 54.2 GS
J. Chamberlain Nebraska 33.2 34 17 46 14 31.8 53.8 GS
Ian Kennedy USC 34.0 37 15 33 6 41.2 50.0 GS

Brad Lincoln obviously gets points for most impressive on this list, with the signficantly highest game score. However, during that time period, Lincoln faced three teams over Boyd Nation's top 100, striking out 34 batters in 23 innings against these teams. His start against Rice last week, a five-hitter with nine strikeouts, did affirm that Lincoln belongs in the top ten. In terms of dominance, Lincoln leads off the list.

I am, surprisingly, most impressed with Greg Reynolds of any pitcher on this list. I have been quoted as saying that Reynolds is the most overrated first round talent, but he is really coming around this season. His five starts have all been very difficult, but Reynolds has excelled, particularly in the last three: 27 IP, 3 ER, 17 H, 4 BB. I have criticized Reynolds for the lack of results, but they are now there, even though the strikeouts aren't. Reynolds blend of projectablity and results will get him in the first round, and while my intuition frowns on the pick, he is giving me less and less to point at.

Staying near the top of the list, Dave Huff deserves mention. I fell in love with Huff during the Cape Cod League last year, pegging him as a breakout candidate in his move to John Savage. It has happened, and Savage has proven the scouting world that Huff is an innings eater, going at least 8 innings in his last five starts, and at least nine in his last four. I'm worried that Huff is too hittable at times, that his lack of overall dominance will plague him at higher levels. But fantastic control and very good stuff (though not great) can go a long way for a southpaw.

Most of you probably cringed when you saw just how low the UNC duo ended up on the list. Especially when considering their low average ISR, even if Nation's system is West Coast friendly. Bard has been so inconsistent all season; his April 9 start against Miami really hurts his numbers here, though. In his last three appearances, Bard has allowed only 13 hits in 18.2 innings, allowing just three earned runs to cross the plate. Bard's series of poor performances will scare many, but his stuff and occasional dominance does yield a first round pick.

Miller hasn't been extremely dominant for a while, lacking one game score above 66. Miller's draft status is locked in, however, so these numbers only matter so much. After some midseason dip in his strikeout numbers, they are back in his last three starts, 21 in 20.2 innings. His control is also down in that period, and Andrew has really made a point of generating a ton of ground balls. No concerns about Miller, folks, he's right on pace.

This list also does a good job in showing the continuing fall of Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. I still like both players; many first round teams would be best off with their innings-eater arms. However, the lack of a ceiling really will scare some clubs off. Kennedy concerns me the most because his control has been really off - 10 walks in his last 24 innings. Without control, Kennedy isn't much. Chamberlain has had walk problems do, allowing at least two in his last five outings. However, Chamberlain's plus strikeout numbers in each outing, including against Texas, have provided credence to his draft status.


Dave Huff - LHP - UCLA



Paging Dr. Andrews, Dr. James Andrews, please pick up the white courtesy phone...

you guys crack me up, damn near every single pitcher that toes the rubber for any length of time is going to have some arm issues. I especially love hearing the Lincecum debate from (mostly) people who have never seen him throw live! The ball comes out of Lincecum's hand easier than almost every guy in this draft class with the exception of Morrow, almost the same for Huff, he does it easy. Who knows who is going to blow out, I bet nobody thought big boy Prior, he of the perfect mechanics and body, blah blah blah. Nonsense, problem is when scouts see something that goes against what is the "norm" i.e Lincecum, they are frightened and dont know how to quantify it. Tim Hudson had a great line in yesterdays Baseball America online story about smallish pitchers, something like referring to scouts as "monkeys", pretty funny. Huff is gonna be just fine.......or he'll blow out.

Sounds like you've got it all figured out. Thanks.

Anytime, you're very welcome.

Refresh my memory, but what is ISR again?

Are you guys going to do a draft board in the next few weeks?

I didn't think that Baseball America article did Lincecum any great favors. 6'0-6'1 is one thing. But I keep hearing "closer to 5'10" with Lincecum. I'll buy that a 6'0 soft tosser is as good a bet to stay healthy as anyone, but a 5'10 and 1/2 flamethrower? Hmm. Until someone has a definitive answer on how tall he is, who knows. I'm also not swayed by "the ball comes out of his hand easy." That sounds like doubletalk. The term "rubber arm" is something we used to hear about Rice pitchers as I recall.

And the Prior thing does more to hurt the case of "freaks of nature" than anything. It was always "Prior has a perfect delivery and monstrous calves. Dr. Blahblahblah" of the Isometrics Whatever says Prior's delivery is perfect. Prior can throw as much as a knuckleballer and not get hurt. It would take a bus to knock Prior out." Etc. etc.

Basically the legend of the workhorse who can throw any amount and not suffer ill effects of it has been not well supported the last five years. Even Livan ain't looking as sharp as he used to.

So then, I guess we cant draft small flamethrowers or big strong kids with good mechanics then? It's a CRAPSHOOT people! There is no formula for who will succeed and who will blow out, try and tell me otherwise and it will fall on deaf ears. Look at Lincecum's history so far and the kid has never missed a beat, now, he may well blow out when he's in the big leagues in September, who knows? I think he will be better off in a pro environment, imagine how healthy he's been under the idiotic college coaching environment where they throw these kids excessively and recklessly...now in pro ball his workload will be closely monitored. This kid is too legit to pass up, I've seen him throw live and he's NOT a max-effort chucker, it cracks me up to hear some of the people describe his delivery and arm action as "violent", obviously it's people who have never seen him or have no clue about pitching mechanics.

Another thing, I will tolerate no bad talk about dreamy Lincey. I want to have his man babies and anyone who says differently will get the stern lecturing of a lifetime. Everything you guys say cracks me up! I just sit here laughing at you all and being better than you! HA HA HA.