How Are the Stars Being Acquired? Starting Pitching

For the majority of major league teams, this is the final week of their season. This means back to the planning board for the front offices as they decide whether to buy this off-season, sell, do both, or attempt to remain static moving forward. One thing is for sure: every team in the league – barring perhaps the Yankees – could use more star power. So how do you acquire stars?

Let’s start with the starting pitchers. Obviously “star” is a word with ambiguous meaning. For some it means a guy who will move tickets, sell jerseys, and land them a marquee spot in the highlights on nights he pitches. For others it means one of the best pitchers in the league whose performance should bring the attention and spotlight, but everyone knows that’s not always a guarantee.

For this set of exercises I’m choosing to define star as the latter. I’ve taken the top 30 starters as told by THT’s xFIP metric. Why xFIP? Because it normalizes home run rates and saves time in noting certain pitcher performances in ballparks like those Oakland and San Diego. From there I noted how each was acquired by their current team. Here’s the list:

Javier Vazquez – trade
Tim Lincecum – draft
Dan Haren – trade
Roy Halladay – draft
Zack Greinke – draft
Jon Lester – draft
Josh Johnson – draft
Justin Verlander – draft
Ricky Nolasco – trade
Adam Wainwright – draft
Chris Carpenter – free agent
Felix Hernandez – amateur free agent
Josh Beckett – trade
Joel Pineiro – trade
Ubaldo Jimenez – amateur free agent
Cole Hamels – draft
Wandy Rodriguez – amateur free agent
Yovani Gallardo – drafted
Gavin Floyd – trade
Brett Anderson – trade
Jorge de la Rosa — trade
Jason Hammel – trade
CC Sabathia – free agent
Ryan Dempster – free agent
Roy Oswalt – draft
Aaron Harang – trade
Max Scherzer – draft
Chad Billingsley – draft
Joe Blanton – trade
Clayton Kershaw – draft

That works out to 11 pitchers acquired via trade, 13 in the draft, 3 as amateur free agents (read: intentional in this case), and 3 as actual free agents. Of those three, Sabathia is the only one signed to a large deal; Carpenter was a pet project for Dave Duncan and a similar tale exists for Dempster’s signing.

The best pitchers in baseball aren’t being acquired on the free agent market. Teams looking for their ace pitcher this off-season should take note.

We hoped you liked reading How Are the Stars Being Acquired? Starting Pitching by R.J. Anderson!

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Matt B.

Any chance xFIP gets added to the player pages?


I agree. This would be great.