For the past few days I have posted the Quality Matrix, or QMAX, stats for the Nationals starter on the Game Chatters at Baseball Think Factory. For those of you who've forgotten, QMAX was a somewhat controversial method used by the old Big Bad Baseball Annual to evaluate pitchers. It could lead to some odd results, such as the possible equation of Jose Lima and Randy Johnson as pitchers of similar value c. 1998.
In exactly that vein, I observed that Shairon Martis, not exactly a Young Phenom™ but still a promising pitcher, and Daniel Cabrera were more alike than they might seem. To which an astute Think Factory reader responded to the effect that I should get my head out of my spreadsheet and actually watch some games, you know.
It's a fair point. Martis has much more self-possession on the mound — in other words, The Good Face™. Now, I actually put a lot of value in that kind of mature handling of difficult situations. But, my main point was that in terms of what the Nationals had got so far out of the two pitchers this season, there isn't all that much between them. Let's use the QMAX method to compare the two pitchers' overall effectiveness prior to 13 May's game.
Power Precipice starts (2) - April 19 & 30.
'Meh' starts (3) April 8 & 13, May 6.
Hit Hard starts (2) April 25, May 11.
Elite Square (1) May 2.
Success Square (1) April 16.
'Meh' (1) April 21.
Hit Hard (3) April 10 & 27, May 8.
Today's start added another to the Success Square, so with this he surpassed Daniel Cabrera in terms of contributing valuable starts to the 2009 Nationals. (He's also showing an 'iambic' pattern of good start/bad start.)
But there's another matter here. Daniel Cabrera is about to turn 28, Martis is just 22. When you see young pitchers putting out Power Precipice starts, you think 'wow, there's a good risk for a future'. Daniel Cabrera, however, is a little old to still be flirting at the Power Precipice. It's got that name for a reason—the pitcher might fall off, but might turn into Randy Johnson. Cabrera may be a serviceable fourth or fifth starter on a second-division team, but my Game Chatterer is quite right to express scepticism over any attempt to avoid a harsh judgment that Cabrera, on the basis of his 2009 starts, is anything other than a stopgap, a $2.6 million one-year gamble that at the moment looks like not paying out much more than a dime.