TINSTAAPP is a baseball tool of writers who spend more time at the computer than the park. The term makes my skin crawl. In a social situation, if a person ever wanted to end a conversation with me, the mention of TINSTAAPP would do the trick as fast as the hobo who propositioned me last summer in Greenville, South Carolina when I wandered into an older section of their downtown park.
It’s just so easy to lump every pitcher into a group and throw a label on them. I can imagine the meeting of statistical minds who deduce,
- The overwhelming majority of pitching prospects fail.
- Minor League stats aren’t a great indicator of future success.
- We like to watch baseball on TV and write about it, but scouting work is out of our comfort zone
Solution – Let’s just say pitching prospects don’t exist and throw a bunch of numbers at it. It will stick!
When Matt Harvey went down last week, TINSTAAPP was at the forefront again. If Harvey goes down at random, then it must be true!
Look, pitchers get hurt. Biologically, our arms are meant to swing by our sides. This is why fast pitch softball teams have two, maybe three pitchers on an entire roster. The underhand throwing motion is more natural, is responsible for less wear and faster recovery times.
On the flip side, the overhand throwing motion is not natural. Biomechanical studies help push injury down the road, but it won’t eliminate them. Plus, we have little information on how genetics play into the equation.
This doesn’t mean TINSTAAPP is a fact of life though. Two years ago, I had a conversation with a scout about Michael Pineda, who he’d seen late in 2011. In his write up, he labeled Pineda an injury risk and urged the organization to check medicals on his shoulder before making a move.
Another scout of 20-plus years opined, “All pitchers break. A scout’s job is to figure out when.”
Personally, the only reports on pitching prospects I’d trust are one’s from the park. Baseball Prospectus has produced a number of them in recent months. Remember, first hand reports brought you the scoop on Eddie Butler here a couple of months before other outlets began fawning over him.
First hand looks unearth the next wave of pitching prospects faster. They also pop the balloons of other pitchers who have received too much helium for their Minor League stat lines before the rest of the industry catches up.
As for the “sorta” I hinted at in the title of this piece, all of the worthless statistical breakdowns and MILB.tv driven pieces almost always build pitching prospects up to a level where a let down is inevitable. For this reason, I’ll never consider a pitching prospect untouchable unless I’ve seen them in person and sign off on them.
Dylan Bundy (injury and all), Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley would be the untouchable pitching prospects for me right now. Zack Wheeler and Julio Teheran are other pitchers I considered untouchable at one point as well.
This doesn’t mean they won’t be hurt though. They will. It’s just a question of when.
2 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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