26 February 2011

Can Christensen win 300?

The top of the Capra career wins leaderboard currently looks like this:

Brett Tracy
303 wins


Brett Tracy: 303 wins

<big space>

Some other guys: less than 200 wins


Those "other guys" include a few active pitchers with 190+ wins. 35-year-old Ted Davis has 195 wins but has a 4-10 record in St. Louis this year. 41-year-old Tom Hudler sports 196 wins and a 1-5 record in S19. Although Hudler is an uncertain bet for 200 wins, Davis should crank out a few more productive years and could conceivably end in the range of 220 to 230 wins.

Neither has a prayer of reaching 300 wins.


Rick Christensen
145 wins at age 30
This is a little exercise about whether Rick "Bridesmaid" Christensen has a legitimate shot at 300 wins. First, a little background. Christensen was drafted in the first round of S9 as a 20 year old, junior college pitcher. He was called up in early June of S12 as a 23-year-old. In his six full seasons since then, Christensen has averaged 19.8 wins per season and is on pace to eclipse that this season (13 wins at the all-star break).

We're going to attempt to project Christensen's career. As comps, we're going to use Brett Tracy and Ted Davis. Neither is a perfect comp, of course, but Davis has a similar makeup and could help us to attempt to predict Christensen's decline phase and Tracy, while mostly incomparable, does serve as our only guidepost to 200+ wins, much less 300.

Davis has continued to pitch without any loss of effectiveness through his current age 35 season. Tracy, with lesser makeup, continued to have "top of rotation" performance and ratings through his age 36 season (S14) and was still very effective in his age 37 season. We'll assume that Christensen's higher makeup (18 points higher than Tracy) and the $20M training budget in Cleveland will extend Christensen's effectiveness at least one additional year.

Let's go to the numbers. We'll assume that Christensen finishes this year with 20 wins and then matches his average of 19 wins per season through age 37. We'll assume that despite 82 health he never suffers a catastrophic injury. After age 37 we'll assume a reasonably steep decline phase. We'll also assume that Christensen remains with Cleveland and that Cleveland continues to employ a team of similar quality.

(Guesstimate seasons are listed in blue italic).

AgeSeasonWinsChristensen's
Cumulative
Wins
Tracy's
Cumulative
Wins At Same Age
23S12131316
24S13193241
25S14205265
26S15176987
27S162291110
28S1722113133
29S1819132151
30S1920152175
31S2019171197
32S2119190211
33S2219209223
34S2319228237
35S2419247247
36S2519266266
37S2619285282
38S2712297295
39S2810307301
40S295312303

It appears as if Christensen does have a legitimate shot at 300 wins if he continues to go injury free. In the case where a minor injury leaves him just a few wins shy of 300 wins at age 40, Cleveland or some other team will likely bring him back at ages 40+ to reach 300 wins. This might give him a 15 to 20 win buffer on reaching the 300 win milestone.

If Christensen wins 20 games this year, he'll be 23 wins behind Tracy's pace, but he is projected to have an extra season of top-notch effectiveness at the tail end of his career. Christensen also benefits from the expectation that he'll finish his career with a top-tier Cleveland team while Tracy was hamstrung by spending parts of S11 on the 74-win Yanks and S13 on the 61-win Juggernauts, something - hopefully - Christensen can avoid.

Good luck, Rick!

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