Revisiting the Prodigy Effect of Strasburg

About two months ago I wrote an article describing what I termed the “Prodigy Effect.”

Inspired by discussions regarding Stephen Strasburg, I became interested in providing an answer to the question of whether hyped pitching prospects could make their teammates better simply by being on the squad.

To attempt to answer the question, I looked at the FIP‘s of starting pitchers on the same team as ten different hyped pitching prodigies over the first two months after the prodigy made his first start. I then compared those FIP’s to each pitchers FIP’s over three years. In mostcases I looked at the year before, of, and after the prodigy made his debut and made exceptions wherereasonable.

I found that there was a small decrease in FIPs in the “hype window” of two months, namely a dropof 3.4 percent. My study was very crude, however, and the results should be taken with a lot of skepticism.It did, however, give a prediction of the impact of the Strasburg Effect. Now we can evaluate thatprediction.

In the two months since Strasburg made his first ML start on June 8th, the Nationals rotation has hada FIP nearly 17 percent lower than the three year averages of the starters who pitched in that span. This isprobably more indicative of the good performances of the Nationals rotation in June and July (FIPs of 3.63 and 3.87 in those months respectively) and random chance than Strasburg’s actual contributions-especially considering Strasburg has been scratched from the rotation since July 27th – but there you have it.

Here’s hoping the prodigy effect lasts way longer than two months.