Mike Montgomery was recently traded to Kansas City who will make him a starter instead of reliever. As has been mentioned here over and over Sabermetrics, including WAR do not value relief very highly. Since Mike Montgomery is approaching Free Agency he obviously wants the good starter stats to make him appear more valuable in the FA bidding market.
Since Mike Montgomery threw the final pitch of the 2016 baseball season helping secure the first World Series in all living Cubs fans lifetime, let’s look back at his career.
This model does not discriminate against relief pitchers and, except for this year and last year, Mike Montgomery was very good for the Cubs. Let’s see why.
Mike Montgomery Full Career
The above is a full career table showing all the leagues covered by this model. Minor league records include WinPct and Age because that is important for those leagues. This type of table sorts most recent year from the top.
Note: Montgomery’s 2016 rank is based upon the sum of his CHN and SEA record for that year. WAAs are not added together in different leagues like his two 2012 records. Those ranks were based upon the WAA recorded for each league. WAAs cannot be summed across different classes of players (i.e. AA and AAA).
Mike Montgomery played very well for KCA’s A+ affilliate, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, in 2009 and 2010. He struggled in AA and AAA for many years and got dealt to Tampa Bay and Seattle where he made his first MLB appearance in 2015 — and that didn’t go well either. The Mariners had him start 16 games that year. In 2016 Seattle made him a long reliever which he excelled at.
He came to the Cubs in 2016 after becoming a reliever and had a very good season ranking #69 in MLB according to this data model. In 2017 he ranked #105 which is very good. Last season he was almost completely average, even steven and this season hasn’t gone well for him.
The rumor mill buzzed that he began asking to be a starter in 2017 which means his relief stints weren’t getting him the credit he deserved because starting pitching is where the glory in Sabermetrics lie. Let’s see what WAR thinks of his career.
Mike Montgomery Career WAR Edition
Ranks provide context to the weighting factor of a value system. According to WAR Montgomery just barely made their top 200 in 2017 and unranked every other year — quite a difference from this model’s rating of him. The above demonstrates how Sabermetrics does not value relief highly which is why pitchers either want to close as a reliever or start.
Montgomery wants to start for his future contract (i.e. $$$). Possibly his angst over starting and the disrespect he received from Sabermetrics caused his decline in later years. Montgomery provided significant help with the Cubs winning a WS and getting to NLCS in 2017. Teams, however, cannot afford players who play for their Draft Kings teams and not for their real team. WAR has a blind spot for relievers and unfortunately teams still use that measure to bid contracts.
Moneyball is about gathering players who create wins and as long as teams are in servitude with stats like WAR, wRC+, OPS+ ,etc. etc. , those teams will overpay for players allowing the Moneyball teams to pick up bargains. The real Moneyball that Billy Beane uses to keep OAK competitive year after year is more like this model than what was shown in the movie and regurgitated ad nauseum on sites like Reddit.
Cubs got a catcher from KCA in exchange so we’ll see how that goes. The catcher position is the toughest position in baseball to play so it’s probably good to have a couple extra around for a playoff push. That is all for now. Until then ….