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Why the difference in voting? January 5, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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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.


NL Cy Young: Heating up early May 31, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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There’s considerable debate, following Roy Halladay‘s perfect game, as to whether he or Ubaldo Jimenez should be considered the top contender for the National League’s Cy Young Award. Of course, it’s way too early to make those sorts of decisions, but let’s take a look at some of the data quickly.

Jimenez is sitting at 3.7 Wins Above Replacement and 38 Runs Above Replacement in 10 starts:

Year Age Tm Lg IP GS R Rrep Rdef aLI RAR WAR Salary
2010 26 COL NL 71.1 10 7 45 0 1.0 38 3.7 $1,250,000
5 Seasons 577.2 93 241 362 0 1.0 121 12.2 $2,392,000
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/31/2010.

Halladay has considerably less, with 22 RAR and 2.4 WAR:

Year Age Tm Lg IP GS R Rrep Rdef aLI RAR WAR Salary
2010 33 PHI NL 86.0 11 23 45 3 1.0 22 2.4 $15,750,000
13 Seasons 2132.2 298 893 1407 19 1.0 514 49.8 $88,991,666
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/31/2010.

Of course, 10 or 11 starts is far too small a sample to draw conclusions from this early in the season. Halladay has a perfect game; Jimenez has a no-hitter. Still, there’s no reason to believe that a perfect game, in and of itself, is enough to get Doc a Cy Young Award. After all, Mark Buehrle didn’t win the Cy last year, and Dallas Braden isn’t even in contention.

If both players keep pitching at or near this level, Halladay becomes a realistic contender, because at that point his marginal contribution may make the difference between whether the Phillies make the playoffs or not. As it stands right now, the NL East is entirely too volatile to make that decision.

(Incidentally, I love Baseball-Reference.com’s new stat sharing and player link tools!)

Poor Kazmir. October 17, 2008

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Last night, Scott Kazmir pitched 6 scoreless innings  in ALCS game 5, giving up 2 hits and 3 walks but striking out 7 batters. He totalled up to a game score of 72 points. His bullpen then proceeded to give up 8 runs, allowing the Red Sox to come back and win the game (thus extending the series to game 5).

Has Scotty suffered the greatest postseason indignity ever? Nope. Not even close. That honor belongs to Mike Mussina of the 1997 Orioles.