Fourth starters range from rookies to veterans, but where does the absolute value lie?
By: John Malioris, Jr.
The absolute value of a number is the distance the number is from zero. When it comes to the back end of a Major League rotation, the absolute value tends to fluctuate each outing.
Typically, the fourth starter is expected to average about ten to thirteen wins, eat a bunch of innings, and essentially give your team a chance to win on most nights. Then to keep everyone lusting for potential finally being achieved, throw in the completely random gem.
Some of these pitchers happen to be young bucks that have come through the system to join an up and coming rotation; while others are being used to plug holes due to injury or lack of overall talent.
On the other hand, a majority are aging veterans hired as stop gaps, on a reclamation journeys- often former highly touted prospects that have settled into the "friend zone" with their potential ceilings.
Determining the value always depends on the individual organization’s needs and that is where the market sets the bar. Those factors force the hand of front offices to move in one of several directions: fill from within, go with a low money/risk reclamation project, or the high money/risk route based on past performance.
Here’s a look at the highest and lowest fourth starters in the MLB, according to depth charts from ESPN.com and salaries from Baseball-Reference.com:
Out of the thirty starters, eleven were drafted in the first round: Lincecum, Beckett, Floyd, Morrow, Blanton, Bailey, Marquis, Francis, Lynn, Minor and Fernandez.
Of those pitchers, only four could arguably still reach their projected potential; while the other seven have reached their peak, but continue to benefit from a weak market and wishful thinking.
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