sid's sims . . .

the other day i wrote favorably about minnesota nontender candidate kyle lohse:

the thing that really intrigues me about this guy is his list of similar pitchers at baseball-reference. number one is chris carpenter; number 6 is jeff suppan. makes you think he might be the type of pitcher who'd thrive under dave duncan's tutelage. supps seems particularly apt for comparison; similar rates of strikeouts and hits allowed, ditto park-adjusted era+s. check out his record through age 27; very comparable to lohse.
so i go to check sidney ponson's comps, and who's sitting there at #2? jeff suppan. check out supp's career through age 28, ponson's current age; they're the same guy (data courtesy day-by-day database):
w-l era whip h/9 k/9 k/bb
suppan 62-75 4.90 1.42 9.9 5.0 1.73
ponson 76-91 4.81 1.44 9.9 5.4 1.80

it so happens that after his age-28 season suppan, like ponson, came under the supervision of duncan / la russa. and well we know that in their care supp has been an extremely valuable mid-rotation guy, turning in two career years in a row.

by sheer coincidence, sitting at #4 on ponson's comp list is another pitcher who struggled through age 28, then landed in la russa / duncan's rotation at age 29 and became a much better pitcher: mike moore. data:

w-l era whip h/9 k/9 k/bb
moore 66-96 4.38 1.40 9.3 5.8 1.75
ponson 76-91 4.81 1.44 9.9 5.4 1.80

the similarity is not quite as striking, but still very close. upon joining the tony / dunc athletics in 1989, moore went 19-11 with a 2.61 era. his record in four years under their management: 66-46 with a 3.54 era.

interesting stuff, and potentially meaningful -- but be careful not to put too much stock into these comps. ev'y case is a little bit diff'nt; neither suppan or moore posted a 6.20 era the year before they became tony / dunc projects, nor did either have serious alcohol and weight problems. . . . at the same time, the ponson signing seems a little less crazy (not a lot, just a little) when you know that there are some successful precedents to recommend it.

but let's not get carried away. if the cards were gonna gamble on a pitcher, they shoulda just gambled on aj burnett -- more chips on the table, but a bigger payday if you win. ponson is a wager strictly for the $2 tables; you might win the bet, but it still doesn't move you any closer to a jackpot.

by the way, sidney's other comps include jeff weaver, jim clancy, livan hernandez, and scott erickson, all of whom had or are having long careers. . . . .

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