Each week we run our “Top Performers” series, looking at the best pitchers and hitters from the previous week. This year we will also be recapping each month in order to award the Pitcher and Player of the month. Below are the average pitching Game Scores* in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ farm system from the month of April. The rankings include every pitcher who made at least four starts for a Pirates’ minor league affiliate, with no limitations on whether the starting pitcher has prospect eligibility. The Game Score listed is the average of all of their Game Scores for the month.
*Game Score is a stat created by Bill James used to determine how good a pitcher’s outing really was. The formula for game score is simple: Start with 50 points, add one point for every out recorded, add two for each inning completed after the fourth, add one point for each strikeout. Subtract two points for each hit, four points for each earned run, two points for each unearned run and one point for each walk. There tends to be an advantage for pitchers who can go longer in the game, as they have more time to pile up strikeouts, while getting bonus points for extra innings beyond the fourth frame.
Pitcher of the Month
Normally I wouldn’t go strictly on the Game Scores for this award. The Game Scores would play a big role, but if there were several players with similar scores, I’d consider their talent level and consistency. In this case, there was no need for that. Stolmy Pimentel was clearly the top pitcher in the system for the month of April. Through five starts he gave up one run in 30.1 innings, with a 28:14 K/BB ratio and 19 hits allowed. His average game score of 66.73 was far better than anyone else. You don’t really need to look at Game Scores when you’ve got the numbers Pimentel put up.
To get an idea of how good Pimentel’s start was, only one starter in all of minor league baseball had a better start. That was John Gast, who threw 23.2 shutout innings in Triple-A for the Cardinals farm system. Gabe Encinas of the Yankees low-A affiliate had a 0.31 ERA in 29 innings, but that came two levels lower than Pimentel.
If Pimentel continues this through the month of May, he could find himself in Indianapolis for the final three months of the season.
The Other Candidates
Orlando Castro put together some impressive starts for West Virginia, and finished second on the list. Castro had a 1.67 ERA in 27 innings, with an impressive 22:1 K/BB ratio.
Right behind him was Nick Kingham, followed by Jameson Taillon. Kingham had a 3.04 ERA in 26.2 innings, with a dominant 33:4 K/BB ratio. Taillon had a 3.03 ERA in 29.2 innings, with a 30:11 K/BB ratio. If it wasn’t for Pimentel’s amazing month, all three guys would have been strong contenders for the award.
Andy Oliver finished with the best Game Score in two of the four weeks in the month of April, but also added the worst Game Score one week, which was enough to drag his overall numbers down. Oliver looked good, with a 3.34 ERA in 32.1 innings, along with a 39:19 K/BB ratio. He could afford to cut down on the walks going forward, but so far he’s managed to be effective even with the control problems.