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I’m not buying it (Hat tip: Pinto). The data makes sense, the conclusion does not:

The students charted the win shares and durability of frontline players and bench players and broke them down to hitters, starters and relievers. They then compared all 30 teams.

As you might expect, starting pitching is what separated the elite teams from the rest and there was a wide disparity. That was particularly the case with the Yankees. But what struck me was that the offensive production was in a pretty tight range. The frontline players of most teams played close to the mean.

Now think about the factors they used: durability and total win shares (which, of course, are highly linked to durability). Everyday players are always more durable than starting pitchers. So it makes perfect sense that when a team’s starting pitchers stay healthy, that’s going to be a major advantage relative to the rest of the league.

That’s not an indicator of the relative value of starting pitching; that’s an indicator of the value of healthy starting pitching. And as far as I know, there aren’t a lot of obvious formulas for how to keep all of your starters healthy (if there are, nobody is using them).

Hitters are inherently more predictable and more stable than pitchers. That makes them a better investment, especially in times like these. Starting pitching is certainly important, but it’s a crapshoot, and I don’t think that is priced into pitchers’ contracts nearly enough.

Feedback? Write a comment, or e-mail the author at shawn(AT)squawkingbaseball.com

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