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Why the difference in voting? January 5, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
Tags: , , ,
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As much as I love the Angels, I can’t take Jered’s side on this one.

Today, I was browsing the voting results from the various awards being voted on. Each league’s Cy Young award voting included the requisite two closers. No surprises there. There was also a beautiful case study of the AL Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez, versus Jered Weaver. They had identical records (13-12) in an identical number of starts (34) and similar strikeouts (233 for Weaver versus 232 for Hernandez). What explains Hernandez’ winning total of 167 points contra Weaver’s fifth-place 24?

A few things come to mind:

  • Hernandez went longer. In the same number of games, wins, and losses, King Felix pitched 249 2/3 innings, whereas Weaver pitched 224 1/3. Those extra 25 1/3 innings show not only that Hernandez was considered more reliable by his manager but that he was, in fact, more reliable (since the extra innings didn’t result in his stats taking a hit). Hernandez also pitched a formidable 6 complete games with one shutout, whereas Weaver had no pips in either category.
  • Hernandez was more effective. Felix gave up fewer runs (80 versus 83) and had a much higher proportion of unearned runs – fully 21.25% of his runs were unearned, whereas Weaver had about 9.6% of runs unearned. That means that more of Hernandez’s runs are attributable to defensive mishaps than Weaver’s. That leads to Felix with a miniscule 2.27 ERA, much lower than Weaver’s respectable 3.01, and 6 wins above replacement compared with Weaver’s 5.4.
  • Hernandez was marginally more effective. He had six Tough Losses and no Cheap Wins, while Weaver had five Tough Losses and one Cheap Win. Felix couldn’t rely on his team to supply him with significant run support, while Weaver got that support in his one cheap win.
  • However, Hernandez’s control wasn’t as good. Felix walked 70 batters for a control ratio (Strikeouts over walks) of .30 and threw 14 wild pitches. Jered, on the other hand, walked only 54 batters, for a control ratio of .23, and only 7 wild pitches. Still, it seems reasonable to assume that control suffers exponentially as innings increase, so part of the apparent lack of control can be explained by Hernandez’s extra innings.

Overall, Felix’s marginal value over Weaver more than explains the difference in voting.

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