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The Future of Trevor Bauer

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A few days ago we did a Crystal Ball for Cleveland Indians starter Trevor Bauer. The purposes of the Crystal Balls is to stimulate discussion about a player, but we only had two comments for Bauer. In my opinion he is too interesting for such a limited discussion, so I am exercising my command prerogative and bringing him up again.

The CB had him going along as an average to slightly above-average starter for the next decade, eventually finishing with 2020 innings, a slightly over .500 won-loss record at 120-113, and a career ERA of 4.07, which was intended to be something on the order of 105 ERA+ during this time period. This seems like a plausible outcome to me, and indeed "just right" won a plurality of outcome poll votes at 49%.

Could Bauer be worse than this? Of course. His arm could fall off, or his stuff could decline, or both. But there's also a chance that he could be a lot better than this. His Top Ten Sim Score comparables to this point in his career are:

  1. Kip Wells (978)
  2. Mike LaCoss (975)
  3. Jason Schmidt (973)
  4. John Lackey (973)
  5. Ian Snell (972)
  6. Ricky Bones (970)
  7. Tony Armas (970)
  8. Jim Gott (970)
  9. Pete Redfern (969)
  10. Mike Pelfrey (968)

Lackey and Schmidt are the two best outcomes there. Lackey took a large step forward at age 27, evolving from a decent pitcher into an often dominant one. Schmidt was a decent pitcher until taking a large step forward at age 29, made three All Star teams from that point until crashing at age 34.

Of the other outcomes, Wells and LaCoss lasted in the majors until age 35 but were ineffective past the age of 30. Snell fizzled out at age 27. Bones lasted until age 32 but was ineffective past the age of 27. Armas was ineffective past age 27. Gott lasted in the majors until he was 35 but was a reliever past the age of 27. Redfern collapsed at age 27. Pelfrey's best year was age 26; he's been very mediocre starting at age 27.

Lots of 27s there.

So, what path does Bauer take? Will he turn out like the Crystal Ball and be a pretty-decent pitcher for a decade? Will he take a large leap forward at some point like Lackey and Schmidt? Or will he collapse when he turns 27?