League Makeup Part I: Years from Signing

talonk

There has been much discussion on this site about how well or poorly front offices can be when drafting and/or signing players. So, since I had no research projects (/sarc) ongoing, I decided to do some digging. So I began tabulating how, when and where players were signed. Initially I chose a 10 year window, 2000-2009 as I started this way back in 2010. But as it took me forever to continue the tabulation, I ended up including 2010 and 2011 to end up with 12 years of data to crunch.

The first category I will start with is the date from signing or drafting. I did not choose age, because there are various ways that data can be interpreted, especially high school versus college. But when choosing years from signing, to the actual year playing, I found the data was more consistent, not only with draft picks, but also with amateur free agents. This category was split into five groupings (subsets), 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 and 21+ years.

Please also note that each player’s years in this is from the original signing date, not the resigning as a free agent or date when they were traded to another team. So if a player was drafted in 1996 and made the majors in 2000, he falls into the 0-5 range for the year 2000 only, then the 6-10 range for years 2001-2005 no matter which team he is playing for, and so on as the years pass on by.

The only outlier in this group are the free agents signings and purchases from Japan and Mexico as they typically skip the minors altogether. But these totals were around 2% of the total players in baseball and therefore mostly insignificant to the results.

Now I know there will be some questions as to how the Tribe compares to the league in this regard. But if I added matching charts for each of the following data, this post would be even lengthier than it already is. If there is a significant difference, I will note it in the corresponding section.

My original thoughts would be that the bulk of the players playing would be in the 6-10 and 11-15 subsets, with perhaps a slight rise in the 0-5 subset over the past few seasons. So let’s get to the first graph and see how it turns out.

Fig 1.1 - All Players:

Fig11_medium

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As can be seen, the years 6-10 dominate this subset, with a mean of 45.32% for the 12 year window. This is not a shock since many players reach the majors at around 24-27 and this usually will be 5 years after high school, college, or from their amateur free agent signing date. But do note the downward trend of 11-15 and 16-20 subsets and increase in the 0-5 subset as more college age players are drafted and key high schoolers that are getting chances earlier in their careers. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 15.26%, 6-10 years 45.32%, 11-15 years 26.66%, 16-20 years 10.24%, and 21+ years 1.99%

The Tribe, as expected, relies even more heavily on the 6-10 subset. The 0-5 subset is not nearly as high as I thought it would be, but has been over 20% the last three years. Also, the 21+ subset almost non-existent. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 13.90%, 6-10 years 49.04%, 11-15 years 23.71%, 16-20 years 11.33%, and 21+ years 0.00%

Now, let’s split this into Hitters only and Pitchers only to see if there are any variances …

Fig 1.2 - Hitters Only:

Fig12_medium

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Here we can see this table matches closely with the largest variance being more 16-20 and fewer 0-5, but with the trending similar. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 13.17%, 6-10 years 44.72%, 11-15 years 29.06%, 16-20 years 12.13%, and 21+ years 2.07%.

The Tribe’s graph is all over the place on this one, but that is to be expected with such a small sample size. A change of one player, really shifts the graph up or down. But the biggest variance here is the 0-5 subset, only half of what baseball does. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 6.67%, 6-10 years 49.81%, 11-15 years 29.29%, 16-20 years 11.00%, and 21+ years 0.00%.

Fig 1.3 - Pitchers Only:

Fig13_medium

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As expected, the 0-5 subset is higher and the 16-20 is lower. Also note that the 11-15 is slightly less as well then the overall data. But the 6-10 curve is increasing and the 11-15 curve is decreasing. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 17.74%, 6-10 years 45.99%, 11-15 years 25.17%, 16-20 years 8.63%, and 21+ years 1.95%

The Tribe actually follows the majors fairly closely with the median totals, but not nearly as flat as the overall league numbers. And in 12 years, only 1 pitcher ever exceeded the 21+ timeframe, in 2007. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 21.06%, 6-10 years 45.27%, 11-15 years 20.39%, 16-20 years 10.72%, and 21+ years 0.00%

Amazingly enough, there is almost a 50/50 split over these 12 years between the hitters and pitchers:

Fig 1.4 - Hitters vs Pitchers:

Fig14_medium

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The Hitters median at 49.87% and Pitchers median at 50.14% over the 12 years. However, since 2006, there is a noticeable split of 50.82% pitchers and 49.19% hitters.

The Tribe’s graph again mirrors the total, but the hitters exceeded the pitchers in 9 of the 12 years. Overall median split is hitters 52.41% and pitchers 47.60%.

But as we all know, there are approximately 1250 different players each and every season. Not every player makes a huge impact. Some just get into a few games, some are stopgap fill-ins, some are platoon players and some play each and every day. I’ve divided the players up into 4 categories, Core, Role, Backup, and Coffee. Core players got 500 or more plate appearances, made 25 or more starts or pitched 60 innings or more in relief. Role players got 300-499 plate appearances, made 15-24 starts or pitched 30-59.2 innings in relief. Backup players got 100-299 plate appearances, made 5-14 starts or pitched 15-29.2 innings in relief. And Coffee players got less than 100 plate appearances, made less than 5 starts or pitched less than 15 innings in relief. For combination pitchers (starts and relief appearances) I subtracted 6 innings pitched per start from the total innings and if the resultant number bumped them another grade, I moved them up. For example, a pitcher had 7 starts and 92.2 innings pitched. Subtracting the 7 starts, resulted in a 50.2 innings pitched in relief which bumped him from a backup to a role player, but not to a core player. I know this is not a perfect way to make this determination, but I was not going to research each season pitcher by pitcher to find innings from starts versus relief appearances. Interestingly enough, the four tiers are fairly close in distribution and mostly consistent year to year. Also, note that if a key player was injured (ie Hafner/Sizemore) and got less than 100 PA, they were still classified as a Coffee player that year even though they most likely would have been a Core player if they had been healthy. This is a results only tabulation, not a guessing game.

So let’s look at the core players first, as they tend to be what win or lose the most of the games.

Fig 2.1 - Core players (Hitters and Pitchers):

Fig21_medium

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We see here how the 6-10 subset has really increased lately with the 11-15 subset on a decline. The 21+ group is also a tick higher and the 16-20 subset also spiked somewhat compared to the chart with all 1250+ players. This falls in line with giving proven veteran players a shot to break out of their slumps, etc. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 9.70%, 6-10 years 42.78%, 11-15 years 32.16%, 16-20 years 12.75%, and 21+ years 1.49%. The median percentage of players designated as core players over the 12 years in MLB was 27.73%.

And again for the Tribe, the graph has huge fluctuations. For example there were 0 players in 2002 with 6-10 years but in in 2003, the percentage jumped to almost 60%. And in 2011 there were 0 players in the 0-5 subset. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 8.85%, 6-10 years 57.14%, 11-15 years 28.57%, 16-20 years 12.15%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The Tribe median percentage of players designated as core players over the 12 years was quite a bit less at 21.78%. This is most likely attributed to the many deadline deals over the years and the multitude number of injuries.

Splitting again this into Hitters only and Pitchers only for variances:

Fig 2.2 - Core players (Hitters only):

Fig22_medium

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A parallel to the main graph yes, but what a huge drop for the 11-15 subset in 2007-2009. The 21+ also is lower than I expected as hitters are thought to be less injury prone than pitchers. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 7.21%, 6-10 years 41.98%, 11-15 years 36.03%, 16-20 years 13.89%, and 21+ years 1.28%. The median value for core hitters over the 12 years is 25.19%.

As the sample size is even smaller in this area, the graph is too unruly to gauge, so we’ll assess the median values only. The Tribe barely relied on 0-5, 16-20 or 21+ subsets; Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 0.00%, 6-10 years 61.25%, 11-15 years 29.17%, 16-20 years 0.00%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median value for core hitters over the 12 years is lower again, at 20.06%.

Fig 2.3 - Core players (Pitchers only):

Fig23_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

A much higher reliance on the 0-5 than the main or hitters graph, but also a higher reliance on veteran pitchers as well. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 11.23%, 6-10 years 43.11%, 11-15 years 31.91%, 16-20 years 11.70%, and 21+ years 2.13%. The median value for core pitchers over the 12 years is 30.01%.

The Tribe core pitchers had huge swings in 2002 (75%) and 2009 (100%), but the sample size is again very small. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 20.84%, 6-10 years 47.22%, 11-15 years 22.50%, 16-20 years 11.81%, and 21+ years 0.00%. And like the hitters, the Tribe had a severe drop in number of core pitchers at only 19.72%. This could be due to high injuries, but most likely lack of effectiveness and deadline deals.

And comparing the hitters to pitchers was a reversal to my initial thoughts as well:

Fig 2.4 - Core players: Hitter vs Pitcher comparison:

Fig24_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

With the hitters and pitchers almost a 50/50 split in the main graph, I would have thought the hitters would have more core players than pitchers due to the high attrition rate of injury, but the pitchers are almost a full 5% points higher, 30.01 to 25.19% over the 12 year median split. This must be due to the higher reliance of bullpen arms (closers and set-up) now that I ponder it a bit more.

The Tribe variance is again almost 50/50, but the hitters lead 20.06% to 19.72%. Pitchers had a high of 52.94% in 2005 and a low of 3.45% in 2009. The hitters high was 42.86% also in 2005 and has been less than 10% in 2003, 2010 and 2011. The only other year that had 30% for both hitters and pitchers was 2007. And not surprisingly enough, 2005 and 2007 were the only years we actually contended for the whole season.

Now let’s take a peek at the graphs for role players:

Fig 3.1 - Role players (Hitters and Pitchers):

Fig31_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

There is a slight increase in the 0-5 and 21+ subsets and a slight decrease in the 11-15 and 16-20 subsets compared to the core players. But the trend is to use younger players overall compared to the start of the chart. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 12.58%, 6-10 years 41.90%, 11-15 years 30.03%, 16-20 years 10.91%, and 21+ years 3.18%. The median percentage of players designated as role players over the 12 years in MLB was 20.16%.

This is the first graph where the median values are close to dead on for the Tribe. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 12.22%, 6-10 years 44.72%, 11-15 years 31.67%, 16-20 years 14.29%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as role players over the 12 years in MLB was 20.80%.

Splitting again into Hitters only and Pitchers only for variances:

Fig 3.2 - Role players (Hitters only):

Fig32_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

Again, a parallel to the main graph, but a higher reliance on 6-10 and 11-15 subsets with a slight bump to the 16-20 subset. Years 2004 and 2009 had some interesting spikes occur. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 10.31%, 6-10 years 38.50%, 11-15 years 34.63%, 16-20 years 12.55%, and 21+ years 3.55%. The median percentage of players designated as role hitters over the 12 years in MLB was 18.91%.

Over the 12 year period, the Tribe graph is concentrated on only the 6-10 and 11-15 subsets. Never had a 21+ player, only 3 seasons had a 16-20 player or 0-5 player, so each of those median totals were 0.00%. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 6-10 years 35.72% and 11-15 years 33.33%. The median percentage of players designated as role hitters over the 12 years was 20.84%.

Fig 3.3 - Role players (Pitchers only):

Fig33_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

This is a much different variance than the role players. The 6-10 subset is much higher as well as the 0-5 subset. The 11-15 subset nosedived and the 16-20 subset has slowly been decreasing from a peak in 2005. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 14.54%, 6-10 years 44.27%, 11-15 years 27.08%, 16-20 years 10.14%, and 21+ years 2.87%. The median percentage of players designated as role pitchers over the 12 years in MLB was 25.21%.

The Tribe numbers for the pitchers were a bit more varied than the hitters, and followed the MLB numbers more closely. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 6.25%, 6-10 years 44.51%, 11-15 years 20.84%, 16-20 years 13.40%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as role pitchers over the 12 years in MLB was 22.03%.

Fig 3.4 - Role players: Hitter vs Pitcher comparison:

Fig34_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

I expected a similar result to the core personnel, but there was a severe decrease in both numbers (around 5%) and also a larger divide between the pitchers and hitters, 25.21 to 18.91%. This might be due to a rise in the use of backup players.

The hitters had much more fluctuation for the Tribe, and in 2005 there were no role hitters at all. The pitchers were much more stable, with the only major spike in 2009 at 44.83%. Overall the pitchers led the hitters 22.03% to 20.84%.

If there has been a rise in the use of backup players, we will see it in the next set of graphs …

Fig 4.1 - Back-up players (Hitters and Pitchers):

Fig41_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

This graph is a bit more consistent than the core or role players, but again a sharp increase in the 0-5 subset and a high reliance on 6-10 subset, which makes sense as this type of player is usually trying to break into a more prominent role. And MLB teams seem to be slowly phasing out the 16-20 subset from this category, but the 21+ is staying fairly even. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 17.73%, 6-10 years 43.07%, 11-15 years 26.71%, 16-20 years 11.07%, and 21+ years 2.14%. The median percentage of players designated as backup players over the 12 years in MLB was 23.04%.

The Tribe again doesn’t deviate all that much here, with 2005 being an outlier (6-10 80% and 16-20 20%; covers only 5 players). Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 16.33%, 6-10 years 42.86%, 11-15 years 24.04%, 16-20 years 10.56%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as backup players over the 12 years was 25.50%.

Splitting again this into Hitters only and Pitchers only for variances:

Fig 4.2 - Back-up players (Hitters only):

Fig42_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

Whatever consistency we saw above has been thrown out the window. The 6-10 subset had a sharp decline early on and has now spiked again. The 16-20 and 0-5 subsets have been flip flopping for a while now. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 12.32%, 6-10 years 40.69%, 11-15 years 30.63%, 16-20 years 14.42%, and 21+ years 3.06%. The median percentage of players designated as backup hitters over the 12 years in MLB was 26.32%.

The Tribe’s median numbers for this graph are not that far off from the MLB total, but the lack of 11-15 players is a bit alarming, but expected based on company philosophy. In 2000 and 2001, 50% each, a spike of 68% in 2008, and the rest is virtually 0%. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 5.00%, 6-10 years 40.00%, 11-15 years 23.64%, 16-20 years 20.00%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as backup hitters over the 12 years was 27.63%.

Fig 4.3 - Back-up players (Pitchers only):

Fig43_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

And the pitchers also show a lack of consistency. But the 6-10 subset is at its highest point yet. And the 0-5 subset is now over 20% for the first time, overtaking the 11-15 subset. This is due to the number of bullpen arms that get a shot for more than a week at a time. The 21+ subset reaches its nadir (three seasons with 0% will do that) and the 16-20 subset nosedives as well. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 23.55%, 6-10 years 48.31%, 11-15 years 19.76%, 16-20 years 6.22%, and 21+ years 1.60%. The median percentage of players designated as backup pitchers over the 12 years in MLB was 19.63%.

The Tribe here does not show much faith in the 0-5 subset, if not for two spikes in 2003 and 2007, the median value would be much closer to 0%. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 15.48%, 6-10 years 40.18%, 11-15 years 25.00%, 16-20 years 0.00%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as backup pitchers over the 12 years was 26.30%, a decent jump from the MLB median.

Fig 4.4 - Back-up: Hitter vs Pitcher comparison:

Fig44_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

Even with a recent increase in pitchers, this is the first graph to have more hitters than pitchers. This is most likely due to injury replacements lasting for around a month or so. But this is also because replacement starters and relievers tend to get swapped out more often and not reaching the backup thresholds. The hitters hold 26.32% advantage over the 19.63% pitchers.

The Tribe graph again has much variance, mainly due to a few years having a much smaller sample size overall. But over the full 12 years, the hitters and pitchers are much closer than in MLB with the hitters leading 27.63% to 26.30%.

And last but not least, the Coffee players …

Fig 5.1 - Coffee players (Hitters and Pitchers):

Fig51_medium

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Another fairly consistent graph, this one jives with what one would expect, a high reliance on 6-10 (over 50%) and 0-5 subsets (22%). This is obviously the young guys getting their first couple of shots at making the 25 man roster. The 11-15, 16-20 and 21+ subsets are most likely players injured or AAAA players getting last chances to prove themselves. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 22.00%, 6-10 years 52.25%, 11-15 years 18.49%, 16-20 years 6.44%, and 21+ years 0.74%. The median percentage of players designated as coffee players over the 12 years in MLB was 26.87%.

For a team trying to go with youth, the Tribe has not shown a propensity of using 0-5 players like MLB. There was a huge spike in 2011 at 46.15%, which brought up the overall median, but still less than the league in general. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 15.88%, 6-10 years 53.40%, 11-15 years 16.67%, 16-20 years 8.33%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as coffee players over the 12 years was 30.43%. So we had more coffee players in general, but fewer 0-5 players.

Fig 5.2 - Coffee players (Hitters only):

Fig52_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

No real surprises here as it mimics the above fairly well. Slight decreases in the overall totals, but that isn’t surprising as there tend to be more calls to replenish bullpens or make spot starts. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 21.53%, 6-10 years 51.93%, 11-15 years 18.90%, 16-20 years 6.99%, and 21+ years 0.58%. The median percentage of players designated as coffee hitters over the 12 years in MLB was 29.47%.

The Tribe coffee hitters match MLB in the 6-10 subset, but the 0-5 subset is non-existent. And the 16-20 subset is almost double the league, which does not seem to correlate to the club philosophy. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 0.00%, 6-10 years 56.35%, 11-15 years 19.45%, 16-20 years 13.89%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as coffee hitters over the 12 years in MLB was 30.22%.

Fig 5.3 - Coffee players (Pitchers only):

Fig53_medium

via i1254.photobucket.com

The pitchers actually match the all players graph real closely. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 23.48%, 6-10 years 52.01%, 11-15 years 17.56%, 16-20 years 5.29%, and 21+ years 0.60%. The median percentage of players designated as coffee pitchers over the 12 years in MLB was 24.62%.

Finally, we find a graph that seems to match the Tribe philosophy. In 2010 and 2011, the 0-5 subset is much higher than the league. This is also correlates to less usage of 6-10 pitchers recently and very few 16-20 pitchers. Median values over the 12 year cycle: 0-5 years 26.54%, 6-10 years 38.10%, 11-15 years 14.29%, 16-20 years 0.00%, and 21+ years 0.00%. The median percentage of players designated as coffee pitchers over the 12 years was 31.13%, another jump compared to the league in general.

Fig 5.4 - Coffee: Hitter vs Pitcher comparison:

Fig54_medium

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But here again, a surprise. I thought the pitchers would easily outnumber the hitters for cups of coffee. But this might be explained by the September expanded rosters. But the pitchers have been creeping up on them overall with a good spike in 2011. Hitters lead pitchers 29.47 to 24.62% over the 12 year period though.

The Tribe bucks the league trend here, with the pitchers leading the hitters by a 31.13% to 30.22% margin. There were only two severe spikes down for pitchers, in 2001 and 2010, otherwise their lead would be higher.

Summary

So what does all this mean? Well for the major leagues itself, in any given year, the players are split into four roles fairly consistently, core, role, backup and coffee. There definitely has been a higher reliance on the 6-10 and 0-5 subsets the past couple of seasons.

But for a Tribe front office that has been touting a strategy to groom younger players, trade them at the right time and replenish the farm system, the numbers don’t really bear that out. We would expect a higher reliance on the 6-10 and 0-5 subsets compared to the league in general, but I am not really seeing this. The other note I took away from this for the Tribe is that the only two years of contention, we had a very solid group of core hitters and pitchers. Now injuries can play a big role in determining in the number of core players a team can have, but those two years were definitely our healthiest and the players themselves were more reliable. Unfortunately, even if we had a bunch of core players this year (which we won’t), I am not sure we would have contended either.

Coming in Part II, a review of amateur free agents to draft picks in general.

In Part III, we will analyze where the amateur free agents are being selected from.

And finally in Part IV, the analysis of draft picks themselves will take place.

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