In 1986, Major League Baseball moved the trade deadline from June to July 31. I am hypothesizing that more “ace” pitchers get moved at that deadline today than ever before. For this exercise, we are going to use DRA_PWARP, and an ace is considered a pitcher that finished the year in the top 20. Let’s do this.

 

In 1986, the best pitcher traded at the deadline was Danny Darwin. Ranked 32nd. No aces.

In 1987, Rick Reuschel was 5th, and Doyle Alexander was 11th. We all know how that Alexander trade worked out. Two aces.

In 1988, Mike Boddicker was just in under the wire at 20th, moving to the Red Sox from the Orioles for the pennant race. One ace.

In 1989, Mark Langston was 9th, and moved to Montreal in the Randy Johnson deal, and 14th place Frank Viola went from the Twins to the Mets. Two aces.

In 1990, Bud Black was the only guy moved, in 14th place, going from the Indians to the Jays. One ace.

In 1991, Tom Candiotti was the only guy moved, in 6th place, also going from the Indians to the Jays. One ace. The Jays were going for it then, weren’t they?

In 1992, 12th place David Cone also went to the Jays. What’s going on here? Has anybody else ever noticed this historical trend? One ace.

In 1993, there’s nothing. No aces.

In 1994, there was also nothing, but that’s the strike year, so trade activity was kind of muted that year. No aces.

In 1995, 3rd place David Cone went to the Yankees, and 15th place David Wells went to Cincinnati. Near miss with Jim Abbott. Two aces.

In 1996, 11th place John Burkett was moved. One ace.

In 1997, there was no one. Wilson Alvarez was the closest at 23rd place. No aces.

In 1998, 8th place Randy Johnson went to the Astros (and kicked a lot of ass). One ace.

In 1999, there was nobody. Juan Guzman was the best guy moved that year. No aces.

In 2000, Curt Schilling didn’t have that great of a year by his standards, but 15th place is still good enough to qualify for this exercise. One ace.

In 2001, there’s no one. No aces.

In 2002, you have the infamous Bartolo Colon trade and Ismael Valdez in 14th and 15th, respectively, and although I don’t really consider Valdez an a. ce, it fits the criteria, so I have to count it. Two aces.

In 2003, Sidney Ponson comes in at 13th, and I kind of feel about him the same way as I do Valdez. But I still gotta count it. One ace.

In 2004, Freddy Garcia comes in 9th. One ace yet again.

In 2005, there’s no one. No aces.

In 2006, 40-year-old Greg Maddux came in 11th, and went to the Dodgers. He’s the only one. One ace.

In 2007, Kyle Lohse was the best guy moved. Not qualified. No aces.

In 2008, CC Sabathia in 2nd, and Rich Harden in 11th were moved. Two aces, and 2 of the top 11. Could this be the opening of the floodgates?

In 2009, Cliff Lee was the only guy moved, in 13th. One ace. Guess the floodgates aren’t open yet.

In 2010, 2 of the top 5 were moved, Cliff Lee yet again, and Roy Oswalt. This is the best year to this point.

In 2011, Doug Fister is the only guy moved. One ace. I think my hypothesis is falling apart.

In 2012, 9th place Zack Greinke was moved, with two near misses with Ryan Dempster and Anibal Sanchez. Those guys would have probably made it if they threw more innings. One ace, but looks like winds of change are blowing.

In 2013, there’s nothing. No aces.

In 2014, 3 of the top 20, David Price, Jeff Samardzija, and Jon Lester were moved. Three aces.

In 2015, David Price yet again, Johnny Cueto, and Cole Hamels all qualify. Mike Leake just missed, and Scott Kazmir would have probably qualified but he didn’t pitch well after the trade, so we almost could have had five, but we have three aces yet again.

So, I don’t think my hypothesis holds water. Was this just a massive waste of time? Maybe, but it does look like we have the start of a trend happening in the past two years, but I’m not willing to say that this just isn’t a small blip.

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