Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tom Verducci Didn't Do His Homework

Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated senior baseball writer and Joe Torre's chum, published an article today examining young major league pitchers whose 2007 season saw them increase their innings total to dangerous levels.

The "Rule of 30" contends that a pitcher below the age of 25 should never see his innings total for a particular year rise more than 30 innings per season. Large leaps in innings totals often times leads to injury or a ballooning ERA.

Within today's piece, Verducci listed Ian Kennedy as the #1 pitcher at risk, citing an increase of 61 innings from 2006 to 2007. Unfortunately for Tom, he forgot to do some research. Here's what Verducci wrote:

Kennedy sailed through three minor league levels and reached the big leagues last year, his first full season in professional baseball. The Yankees allowed him to ring up 165 1/3 innings at age 22, after he threw 101 2/3 innings at USC in 2006 and 2 2/3 innings at Staten Island after signing. Kennedy was shut down late in September and left off the postseason roster because of what was described as mild back soreness.

Kennedy's path may recall how the Angels pushed Jared Weaver, another college stud, by 56 innings in 2006. Weaver started 2007 on the DL with shoulder soreness and saw his ERA rise by 1.45.

As Pete Abe points out, however, Verducci mistakenly omitted Ian Kennedy's stint in the Hawaiian Winter League to close out his 2006 season. The 30.1 innings Kennedy threw in Hawaii brings his 2006 total to 134.2 innings, making his 2007 innings total of 165.1 exactly two outs over the proposed 30 inning increase cap.

Therefore, listing Kennedy as the #1 culprit of young pitchers in 2007 is completely unfounded and dead wrong. Kennedy is right on track to toss a minimum of 195 innings in 2008 and could easily eclipse the 200 innings plateau without becoming a major injury risk.

Verducci did add a correction following Kennedy's listing, but decided to keep Kennedy listed as the top injury risk for next season. Tom might want to scrap the article altogether, or at least omit Kennedy's name. After all, this is the internet. This isn't a daily newspaper incapable of hitting a delete key. This was Verducci's correction:
One caveat: Kennedy's jump is not as alarming as first blush indicates. The Yankees did give him an extra 30 1/3 "unofficial" innings of winter ball in 2006 (see Carmona below); not your high-stress big league innings, but still good incremental training. If you count that work, his jump of 30 2/3 innings barely pushes him into the danger zone.
One caveat? How about one completely inaccurate report.

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