Length of M.L. of High School vs. College Pitchers

Question: Does the amount of pitches a pitcher throws in college effect how long he will throw in in the majors?


Why I asked the question: Good college pitchers seem to throw a lot of innings in college. The college team doesn't care if the pitcher injures himself for the future, only that they can get the most out of him while he is there and does this abuse carry onto the majors.

Analysis: I wanted to look at pitchers that made it to the majors recently and while there actually pitched a decent amount in at least one season. I looked at all the pitchers that reached 160 innings any year between 1985 and 2007 and have retired. Here are the results when comparing players drafted out of high school and all colleges.

School Draft From Number Age of M.L. Debut Age of Last Game G GS IP Years in M.L. G per year GS per year IP per year
High School 62 22.03 33.6 317.44 236.48 1621.81 11.6 27.4 20.4 140.2
College 162 23.73 34.11 301.98 220.68 1517.83 10.4 29.1 21.3 146.2

From this analysis I found that where the pitcher was drafted from does make a difference once they make it to the majors. Even though college pitchers are older when the retire, that have sent over 1 year less in the majors leading to less games, games started and innings pitched over their careers. Once in the majors, both were somewhat comparable in the game number of games, games started and innings pitched per year with college pitchers getting the the slight nod. Pitchers from college also were about a half a year older when they retired.

Next, I divided the college players into ones drafted from a 4 year college and the ones drafted from a 2 year community college. Here are the results:


School Draft From Number Age of M.L. Debut Age of Last Game G GS IP Years in M.L. G per year GS per year IP per year
High School 62 22.0 33.6 317.4 236.5 1621.8 11.6 27.4 20.4 140.2
Community College 35 23.1 34.9 360.7 253.8 1798.5 11.9 30.4 21.4 151.8
4 Year College 127 23.9 33.9 286.1 211.7 1442.1 10.0 28.7 21.2 144.5

Once the community college pitchers are removed, the difference between 4 year college players and hight school are more dramatic with high school pitchers being in the majors ~1.5 years longer, but both were out of the majors by their 34th birthday. The big surprise here was how the community college pitchers performed. They averaged 2 more years as a pro compared to players that went to a 4 year college and had 2 more starts per year along with ~7 more innings per season. This accounted for ~32 more starts in their careers and ~350 more innings pitched.

It looks for sure that college pitchers don't last for as many seasons once they are in the majors compared to pitchers drafted out of high school, but both are done pitching at about the same age. The anomaly of the group seems to be pitchers from community college that have a longer career than the other two groups.