The scary downside of Stephen Strasburg 

June, 17, 2010

As you may have heard by now, Stephen Strasburg just might be the best pitching prospect ever. As you may also have heard, there is no such thing as a pitching prospect. Pitchers are so injury-prone and unpredictable that it hardly ever makes sense to bet the ranch any individual hurler will be consistently good.

Last week, Dan Szymborksi used his ZiPS system to forecast the next 18 years and estimated that Strasburg would go 184-143 over his career. But there's a huge range of possibilities embedded in that projection. ZiPS said there's a 10 percent chance Strasburg will win 224 games, and 100-1 odds that he will win 283 games.

So what if we try to narrow our margin of error in Strasburg's projection by focusing on how he's likely to do in the next season or two? The results are scary -- in both senses of the word.

Peter Keating

ESPN Senior Writer
Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. His column, The Numbers, appears in every issue.