When evaluating stats at the MLB level, you should be very careful about small sample sizes.
It’s definitely not the same to have an ERA of 2.76 over 180 innings than a 2.08 mark in 15 frames.
Which one is more valuable?
The former, of course, because the pitcher showed he can be elite over a much larger sample.
Small samples are often associated with luck or randomness.
That’s why there aren’t too many Cy Young candidates in the post-All-Star break ERA leaderboard.
“In the three weeks since trade deadline, top 10 in MLB in ERA, minimum 20 IP: Edward Cabrera: 0.00 Jordan Montgomery: 0.35 Chris Bassitt: 0.69 Julio Urías: 0.75 Justin Steele: 0.79 Zac Gallen: 1.00 Drew Smyly: 1.13 Cristian Javier: 1.50 Drew Rasmussen: 1.57 Jeffrey Springs: 1.66,” ESPN’s Jeff Passan tweeted.
In the three weeks since trade deadline, top 10 in MLB in ERA, minimum 20 IP:
Edward Cabrera: 0.00
Jordan Montgomery: 0.35
Chris Bassitt: 0.69
Julio Urías: 0.75
Justin Steele: 0.79
Zac Gallen: 1.00
Drew Smyly: 1.13
Cristian Javier: 1.50
Drew Rasmussen: 1.57
Jeffrey Springs: 1.66
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 23, 2022
Post-Break Breakouts Are Worth Paying Attention To
We should, however, direct some special attention to post-break stat lines, especially if they come from people who played regularly in the first half, because it often represents a skill change, or natural improvement (22-year-old prospects, for example, are bound to improve and find what works for them at one point).
In this case, Edward Cabrera’s perfect ERA over a sample larger than 20 innings definitely warrants some attention.
The young Miami Marlins prospect has obvious physical gifts, and is now starting to translate it into on-the-field results.
Jordan Montgomery went to the St. Louis Cardinals, an organization that knows how to develop and get the best out of their pitchers.
He is clearly enjoying a renaissance, or to put it in a better way, he is hitting another gear.
Another interesting breakout candidate in that group is Justin Steele of the Chicago Cubs.
He is becoming, at the very least, a reliable mid-rotation starter that comes in handy for their rebuild.
There are lots of interesting names in that group, and while 20 innings is not a huge sample, they are starting to require a closer look.