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Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Thoughts on Moneyball... 

I finished Moneyball the other day and, after some reflection, I'm able to jot down a few random thoughts on the subject ...

Before I read Moneyball, thought about the Oakland A's, or even knew who Billy Beane or Bill James were I had read Michael Lewis' excerpt in Sports Illustrated last summer. (Actually I was dimly aware of Bill James: he had written an essay for the companion book to Ken Burns Baseball documentary.) It was a quick 12-14 page excerpt but it fired up my interest in the subject. I ended up stumbling upon Baseball Primer a few weeks later and I was hooked on sabremetrics. However, as I said in a recent post, I never really understood the ideas until I read about where they had come from and why James had lodged some of the complaints he had. Oliver Wendell Holmes' aphorism that a page of history is worth a volume of logic (said in the context of trying to explain America's archaic property laws) has never rang truer than when I began reading Moneyball . This past week or so I proceeded to re-read the content on sites like Hardball Times and Baseball Think Factory. Now I think that I am starting to get it.

-I think that Moneyball illustrates a problem with baseball: it is too inflexible, too unwilling to change. Compare baseball to football:

Football embraced television and created subsidiaries like NFL Films to help develop fan interest in the game. Baseball's use of television has me baffled: they have, to the best of my knowledge, nothing like NFL Films and the league has historically approached TV with trepidation. I'd like to see MLB try and cash in on HDTV and wide-screens.

Football embraced revenue-sharing on the idea that it is unfair to have one team with tremendous financial resources routinely pummel on the other teams. How much fun is it to watch the Yankees win every year? Not very. The A's prove that smart management can over-come limited finances, but most fans just assume their team will be gutted in the fall.

It is genuinely exciting to watch the NFL because every team has a shot. The Carolina Panthers were 1-15 two years ago and they just came within a few minutes of winning the Super Bowl. Teams with smart management strategies are the successful NFL teams (e.g. the Eagles, the Patriots, the Titans...) and the big-spenders stay home in the off-season (yes, I'm talking about the Redskins here). Aside from the A's, I don't really see that in MLB: the best teams are the ones willing to spend the cash: Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, etc. Teams like the Royals and Brewers can make runs at the top from time-to-time, but they are prepetually mired in a re-building process, while the Yankees are prepetually in contention. The A's have to be perfect. The Yankees can write-off bone-headed decisions.

(And in any case, I wonder how good the A's will be once Mulder, Hudson and Zito get the opportunity to test the free agent market. Even sabremetrics can only go so far towards finding talent.)

Fans in New York can quit whining about poorer teams cutting into their budgets: players will always gravitate towards New York because it is the largest media market in America and the center of the advertising universe. Athletes will want to play there or in LA because they have the opportunity to make a killing off of endorsements. Jeremy Shockey isn't the best tight end in football, but because he plays in New York he gets endorsements and gets his face on TV. The Chief's Tony Gonzalez is probably the best tight end in football, but you'd never know that.

-I was truly surprised to read that people derrided Beane as "arrogant". I didn't find anything particularly arrogant about his tone or statements in Moneyball. His dealing with Steve Phillips didn't indicate someone in love with themselves or positively dripping with contempt for those even the slightest bit less intelligent, as critics had complained. If you miked all of these GM's I'm sure they'd sound exactly alike.

It sort of reminds me of something my fiancee said about Jessica Simpson: People mock her for her ditsy comments, but if you'd mike anyone else and edit their questions and respones, that person would probably sound exactly the same. I'm sure that if you'd record these GM's conversations and then replayed them, they'd sound exactly like Billy Beane.

-I liked Lewis' writing style. I think he mixed up his individual stories about Bradford and Hatteburg enough (I note that, as I write this, that Hatteburg is leading the A's in Runs Created per 27 outs: 8.17) with the theories underpining sabremetrics and Beane's own journey to the subject. I wish that Lewis had talked about some of the internet resources like Baseball Prospectus and Baseball Primer a little more, but I can't complain. Lewis' prose flows and his communicates his ideas fluidly, though he often got repititious at times and the information he presented was cumulative.

-If I had to sum up Moneyball in two words it would be: "Risk Management". That is basically what the A's strategy is all about: lowering risk. They don't have to commit $10 million a year to Player A when they can get 50%-75% of the same production from Player B, who makes $500,000 a year. If Player B flops, the A's can cut him loose and move on. If Player A flops, the A's have to eat his salary for years and don't have a chance. It is odd that it took baseball this long to embrace the concept give that the rest of America has embraced it for years:

Lowering costs and maximizing profit are what the American economy is all about. Modern trends in American government and economic life like outsourcing, deregulation, privitazation are all about slashing overhead and trying to maximize production. The A's are really the first team to take this sort of mindset and apply it to baseball: work with limited overhead, cut guys loose without remorse, etc. (I was just thinking of the team's decision to cut Mike Magnante just days short of getting his pension. Cold to downsize him like that, but they needed Rincon.) The A's remind me of the corporation that slashes its payroll and imposes higher productivity requirements on its workers: they want fewer people on the payroll and they want the same (if not higher) production. Great for the team, lousy for the players.

-Further reading: I found this back-and-forth between ESPN's Rob Neyer and James Surowiecki of The New Yorker. I also found this article from Surowiecki about James that was interesting. (I found a review of Moneyball from the liberal American Prospect here. The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, reviewed it here.)
(Alright, gotta go. Everyone have a nice weekend!)

(BTW: I recently found out that my fiancée and her family are distantly related to A’s DH Erubiel Durazo. Small world.)

(139) comments

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Vote for Jim! 

I was talking with a friend today and they complained about the fact that Thome is just 4th in the first baseman voting while Nomar is first in the AL shortstop voting despite having played just 10-12 games, and he suggested that Phillies fans should get organized on the web. (Red Sox fans are organized with precision and tenacity that would have impressed Gen. George S. Patton.) I wholeheartedly agree and I want to encourage everyone who logs in to check out the MLB website and vote on-line for Thome, Abreu and the rest of the team for the All-Star game.

C'mon Phils fans! Vote!

(5) comments

Drafty... 

The MLB Draft is sort of strange: it isn't the hoopla full of strategic maneuvering warranting wall-to-wall ESPN coverage like the NFL Draft. Quite candidly, the casual observer usually hasn't the faintest clue that the draft is even imminent until you put up the paper and read that your team took some high school pitcher from California as their top pick in an article typically buried on page ten or eleven next to the ads horseracing results and the ads from the "gentleman's club". Michael Lewis derrided MLB's treatment of the draft in Moneyball, accusing the league of trying to exclude the fan at every possible step, the draft being a conspicuous example.

I know pretty much who the Eagles took in the 2004 NFL Draft, but I quite candidly admit I haven't a clue who the Phillies took in the 2004 MLB Draft.

Fortunately, there are those who follow the draft and Aaron Gleeman has just written two pieces on the draft for Hardball Times that I really think are worth reading:

First, Aaron has been keeping track of the Boys of Moneyball and their progress towards the A's starting lineup with a nice article here. (Click here for Aaron's original article that appeared in baseball primer.)

The importance of the progression of Swisher and Brown and the rest towards Oakland is a big deal because the A's were so intent on making a statement with their multitude of draft picks: they wanted to deemphasize scouting and objectively rate the players according to their stats. Their record, Aaron notes, is mixed: Nick Swisher is playing well and seems poised to enter the Oakland lineup in 2005 or maybe at the end of the year. Jeremy Brown, whom I thought was doing very well, has struggled in 2004, and his career is in jeopardy.

Brant Colamarino, of whom Lewis memorably quoted an A's trainer as saying had man-breasts (prompting Billy Beane to make a Seinfeld reference to giving Colamarino a "manzier"), is from my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, so I try to follow his career as closely as I can.

Second, Aaron wrote a piece generally dealing with the 2004 Draft that I thought was of note. Anyone who has read Moneyball knows that the A's have an allergic reaction to high school baseball players because their raw abilities have never seriously been tested the way college baseball players have. Thus, the A's took college players in the '02 Draft: Colamarino (Pitt); Brown (Alabama); Swisher (Ohio State), etc. It caught me off-guard to know that the A's took two high schoolers with their first thirteen picks.

What I really thought was interesting about Aaron's piece was his chart showing the percentage of college players chosen by each team. Predictably, the two of the top three teams are the A's (88.6%) and the Blue Jays (90.4%), run by Beane lieutenant J.P. Ricciardi. The fact that the Cardinals were number one (91.5%) caught me by surprise a little. Even more surprising was the fact that Beane protégé John DePodesta (LA Dodgers GM) took so many high schoolers. Just 57.7% of the Dodgers picks were college kids.

The Phils? Pretty much the middle of the pack: 20th of 30 with 62% of the players being college guys. I don't think that the Phils draft record is all that impressive historically: of the "big three", just one (Burrell) was drafted by the Phils. Thome and Abreu developed in other team's systems, as did Bell and Polanco. Rollins and Lieberthal are home-grown guys, but the Phils don't seem to have had much luck historically with the draft. It is interesting that the Phils don't appear to have adopted the A's mindset: traditionally the Phils have always been an organization reluctant to spend the big bucks to secure talent. You'd think that management would seek to develop cheaper college guys other teams pass up.

I live here in Pittsburgh, so I can't pass up the opportunity to complain about the fact that the Pirates management doesn't follow the A's strategy either. According to Aaron, the Pirates tied with the Twins for the 26th spot with just 50% of college players being picked. The lack of money available to the Pirates, particularly due to the monster Jason Kendall contract eating up the Pirates payroll, is a consistent source of talk here in Pittsburgh. Why do the Pirates draft these high school pitchers? I just don't get it.

Those are my thoughts on the 2004 Draft ...

(4) comments

Anyone out there a trekker? 

Utterly un-related to baseball, but I couldn't resist including this eye-popping bit I saw in Yahoo today. Anyone a Star Trek fan? (Or of Boston Public?) I was in high school and I know some people who still are ... Well, former Star Trekactress Jeri Ryan made some stunning allegations about her ex-husband, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, in their divorce proceedings you'd have to read to believe.

Yikes.

(6) comments

Thome: MVP 

I think it is an appropriate time to start the M-V-P beat at Citizens for Thome. Let's just look at the man's stats...

1st in home runs; 2nd in isolated power (to Barry Bonds by about thirty points); 3rd in Secondary Average (to Bonds and the Astros Lance Berkman); 4th in Runs Created per 27 outs; 5th in on-base percentage; and 2nd in slugging average. All this without guys getting on base ahead of him too.

Plus consider what he means to the Phils: Abreu and Burrell are playing well, but Thome is the heart and soul of this team. Without him the Phils would be struggling. He's the most valuable player in baseball.

MVP! MVP! MVP!

(A credible case can be made for Abreu too: 4th in Secondary Average; 5th in RC27; 4th in OBP ... This could be like 2000 when Bonds and Kent finished 1-2 in the MVP voting.)

(14) comments

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Staterrific II!  

Here are the Phils stats as interleague play comes to an end (for a few days) and the dog days of June come to an end …

The starting lineup …
(GPA / ISO / SecAvg)
Thome: .370 / .395/ .559
Abreu: .338 / .268 / .558
Burrell: .296 / .179 / .354
Bell: .263 / .155 / .288
Lieberthal: .244 / .173 / .233
Rollins: .243 / .108 / .224
Polanco: .236 / .116 / .194

The platoon …
(GPA / ISO / SecAvg)
Ledee: .335/ .288 / .438
Michaels: .294 / .222 / .467
Glanville: .180 / .045 / .167

The bench …
(GPA / ISO / SecAvg)
Perez: .246 / .209 / .253
Pratt: .240 / .056 / .204

Some (somewhat obvious) thoughts:
-I’ll be sorely disappointed to see Glanville in the lineup. Play Ledee (his stats strongly demand it), or Michaels, but please leave Glanville sitting at the end of the bench…
-I’m thinking that the key guy for the push to the playoffs might be the play of David Bell. He has been swinging the bat surprisingly well this season and has been producing well enough that you could call the Big Three of Burrell, Thome and Abreu the Big Four. If Bell continues to produce this team will function as a powerful offensive unit and the Phils can absorb the decline in production from Lieberthal.

Congratulations to NL Player of the Week Jim Thome …

Wish you dudes were here…
(GPA / ISO / SecAvg)
Utley: .230 / .215 / .234
Byrd: .210 / .079 / .164

RC/27:
Thome: 10.49
Abreu: 9.72
Burrell: 6.76
Bell: 4.95

Lets see what the next few days bring…

What the stats mean:
GPA (Gross Productive Average): (1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA
ISO (Isolated Power): .SLG - .BA = .ISO
SecAvg (Secondary Average): (TB – H + BB + SB – CS) / AB = .SecAvg
RC/27 (Runs Created per 27 Outs): ESPN’s formula for Runs Created is simply too complex for me to replicate easily here. This is their stat based on what a hypothetical team of nine of the same player would score.

(3) comments

Staterrific! 

GPA: (as of June 21, 2004)
1. Colorado: .268
2. St. Louis: .266
3. Philadelphia: .264
4. Chicago: .263
5. Houston: .263
6. San Francisco: .262
7. Cincinnati: .259
8. Los Angeles: .258
9. Pittsburgh: .251
10. Florida: .251
11. Arizona: .248
12. Milwaukee: .248
13. Atlanta: .247
14. San Diego: .246
15. New York: .244
16. Montreal: .224

The Phils have moved up a little past Chicago in GPA, which is good news ... Wonder how the team will function without Byrd ...


(C'mon, Jim! Don't just stand there, we're closing in on St. Louis!)

(7) comments

Know Thy Enemy ... The NL East ...  

Thanks to baseball's unbalanced schedule, the bulk of the Phils remaining
games are against division rivals: the Braves, the Mets, the Expos, the Fish ... This is, needless, to say, bad news for the the Phils, who are just 10-15 against the NL East (5-14 excluding their 5-1 record against the Expos), and a combined 20-11 against the rest of the National League.

Florida
Record Against to Date: 0-6
Games Against Left: 13

The Phils need to defeat the Marlins, who are their biggest threat to the division title. It won't be easy: the Phils are 6-19 against the Marlins in '03 and '04. The Fish seem to have some sort of mystical control over the Phils. In the six games they played so far in '04, Mike Lowell (four home runs) and Hee Seop Choi (two) both hit them hard.

The real problem with the Phils against the Fish is the Phils utter inability to touch the Marlins pitching. Beckett and Willis both shut the Phils offense completely down: neither surrendered a run in their starts, Willies allowed just four baserunners in six and 2/3 innings, and Beckett allowed just three in seven full innings. The Phils had better hope that Beckett is still hampered by his blister and that the Marlins pitching staff has lost whatever mystical hold it has over the Phils.

One suggestion I'd have for Larry Bowa would be to bat David Bell in the two slot against the Marlins. Out of all of the Phillies, Bell has arguably played the best in the six games this year, hitting with a .440 OBP and .478 SLG (GPA: .318). Thome also hit them well (.370 OBP; .625 SLG), but Lieberthal, Rollins and even Abreu turned in monsterously bad performances:

Rollins: .192 OBP; .240 SLG (.146 GPA)
Abreu: .292 OBP; .318 SLG (.211 GPA)
Lieberthal: .167 OBP; .182 SLG (.121 GPA)

Batting Bell in the two hole instead of Glanville or Rollins makes sense, and would hopefully put someone on for Thome and the middle of the order. I'd also trust that Rollins recent improvement will continue and hit him first.

Atlanta
Record Against to Date: 4-4
Games Against Left: 11

I'm not worried about the Braves beating the Phils for the playoffs. I actually have the Braves pegged to finish 4th behind the Mets. I worry about the spoiler factor and, in particular, the J.D. Drew factor. The guy seems to thrive against the Phils. Check out his stats in the seven games he played against the Phils in '04:

Drew: .469 OBP; .600 SLG (.361 GPA)

I do not want to see Drew have some big games down the stretch but that seems likely. The Braves have a lot invested in Drew and he seems to be playing well this year. We'll see if that lasts.

Otherwise, the Braves don't scare me much and they shouldn't worry the Phils. This is a team clearly on the decline and unaccustomed to having it rough. The Phils will probably win 7 of the last 11 games. The more the Braves fall behind the more they will struggle.

New York Mets
Record Against to Date: 1-4
Games Against Left: 14

The Mets worry me a lot more than the Braves. The Braves are fading, on their way downward. The Mets have some young talent and seem to be playing decent ball. The Phils 1-4 record indicates that they really don't know how to deal with them. This is the team that I fear because they don't have anything to lose and would dearly love to humiliate the Phils by knocking them out of contention.

Montreal Expos
Record Against to Date: 5-1
Games Against Left: 13

If the Phils can continue to treat the Expos as the team they beat up and take lunch money from, then the Phils are set. I don't think that the Phils could go 18-1 against the Expos, but I'd probably pencil in 14-15 or so wins.

Bottom-line: of the Phils remaining games 52 are against division rivals. 10-15 (.400) won't cut it: in order to make the playoffs the Phils will need 90+ wins. (That should be enough to capture the division or the wildcard.) Right now the Phils are 36-31. A .400 record against the rest of the NL East would earn the Phils a 21-31 record, which means that the Phils would basically have to win 30 of their 40+ games against the non-NL East foes.

(Run!)
Maybe the '51 Giants went 37-7 down the stretch, I wouldn't count on that happening to the Phils. No pressure guys, but starting Tuesday you need to start beating people in a big way.

(2) comments

Monday, June 21, 2004

I thought this was interesting... 

Totally off the subject of baseball, but I thought this piece about the first flight of the privately built and operated SpaceShipOne was interesting and possibly a real watershed in science and maybe history.

(3) comments

Machado in ’05? 

While we are all talking about Byrd's movement to the minors, let me ask how long is it going to take for the Phils to promote Anderson Machado from the Red Barrons to the majors? 2005? Out of all of the Red Barrons Machado is the only one with more walks (32) than strikeouts (31). His OBP is .379, and his overall GPA is .279. (Chase Utley’s Red Barron GPA was .306 …) He seems to control the strike-zone well ... what's not to like about this guy? Utley and Machado will form the Phils double-play duo for years ...

(5) comments

Byrd & 1st Place 

-I was sorely disappointed to see Marlon Byrd shipped out to Scranton. It might be for the best, if he can get his swing back and regain in late-season '03 form, but meanwhile the Phils are going to platoon Ledee, Michaels, and Glanville.

Yeah, Glanville's going to get some playing time. Terrific.

-Good news: the Phils have jumped into a tie for first place with the fish. At 36-31, the Phils got it by virtue of a superior winning percentage. If you are curious about where the Phils were after Game 67 the last two years:

2003: 35-32 (86-76 finish)
2002: 29-38 (80-81 finish)
2001: 39-28 (86-76 finish)

So we are a game ahead of '03. So far, so good ...

(3) comments

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Reflections on ZR: 

I was giving ZR a little more thought this week. This notion of being able to quantify something as vague and subjective really has my interest. Also, one of the many clichés people have about baseball is that good pitching and good defense trump hitting. Well, we can quantify good pitching. We can see what it looks like on paper. Fielding?

Hitting is easy to figure out. We have fairly uniform data to assess hitters: they all get about the same number of at-bats and they all pretty much have the same opportunities as the next guy. Pitchers too: they all have data, once you strip away stats like “win-loss” record to figure out how they’ve done, although their analysis is much more difficult than for hitters. (I’ve stayed away from pitching analysis because I don’t understand the concepts enough: it is my next project.)

Fielding is the most difficult of all because it is possible to play a game and have nothing at all to do. Remember when Ben Sheets K’d 18 guys earlier this year? His eight teammates had to make just nine outs on their own. I could play third base and not see the ball for one or two or even three games. It is too subjective and too much left to variables utterly unable to be tested. If you are a lousy hitter you go 0-for-4 and people know you’ve failed. If you are a lousy pitcher, you’ll get tagged for hits and runs and your ERA or WHIP will detail your futility. Fielding? I could be the world’s worse fielder and you wouldn’t know it if I play on a team full of strikeout pitchers.

Here are the Phils 2004 ZR stats:
1b Thome: .790
2b Utley: .871
2b Polanco: .824
3b Bell: .781
ss Rollins: .848
lf Burrell: .864
cf Byrd: .836
cf Glanville: .824
rf Abreu: .854

So how do the Phils stack up? Comparing the Phils regulars stats to opposing players revealed that the Phils were typically average-to-below average on defense: Thome was, according to ESPN, tenth of ten NL first basemen, while Jimmy Rollins was seventh of thirteen regular NL shortstops. Nowhere were the Phils better than the middle of the pack.

Team ZR:
1. Chicago .866
2. Florida: .860
3. St. Louis: .858
4. Milwaukee: .858
5. San Diego: .858
6. Los Angeles: .858
7. Montreal: .857
8. Philadelphia: .849
9. Cincinnati: .844
10. Houston: .843
11. San Francisco: .839
12. New York Mets: .829
13. Arizona: .838
14. Atlanta: .835
15. Colorado: .832
16. Pittsburgh: .822

Broken down by infield and outfields, the Phils infield ZR is seventh (.828), and their outfield is eleventh (.852).

Either way, it is enormously disappointing to see how mediocre-to-bad the Phils actually are. Will this come back to haunt us?

(29) comments

Fun With Stats … Part … a lot …  

Here are the Phils stats, as of June 18, 2004:

GPA
Thome: .352
Abreu: .331
Burrell: .301
Bell: .266
Lieberthal: .244
Rollins: .244
Polanco: .231
Utley: .230
Byrd: .210
Glanville: .180
Ledee: .344
[(1.8 * .OBP + .SLG) / 4 = .GPA]

Little surprise that Thome continues to lead the Phils in GPA: the man hits home runs like a machine and walks more than a health nut.


ISO / SecAvg
Thome: .360 / .519
Abreu: .271 / .560
Burrell: .203 / .392
Bell: .157 / .290
Lieberthal: .175 / .230
Byrd: .080 / .160
Rollins: .100 / .215
Polanco: .103 / .178
Utley: .215 / .234
Glanville: .045 / .167
Ledee: .296 / .451

[.SLG - .BA = .ISO ; (TB – H + BB + SB –CS) / AB = .SecAvg]

The Phils leadoff guys continue to disappoint: in the last week Rollins went ten-for-thirty-three (.303 BA); but he walked just once, so his impressive BA comes attached with a .324 OBP. In that same period of time Abreu drew seven walks. Bell, Burrell and Thome had four.

Marlon Byrd, meanwhile went four for eighteen and whiffed four times without a walk. I had high hopes for him, but as the season wears on, I’m beginning to lose hope for him.

A word about Lieberthal:

I’m enormously worried that his career is on a quick decline. Catchers generally tend to wear down in their careers at a certain point (which is why Craig Biggio moved out from behind the plate and why Mike Piazza should, as should Jason Kendall), and they wear down at the end of the season in general. Lieberthal is already off to a lousy start in ’04 and I worry that he has reached the apex of his career:

GPA
2004: .244
2003: .281
2002: .268

Lieberthal has never been the Phils No. 1 weapon, but he has always been a solid and consistent performer, which is why his mediocre play is a source of concern. Good catchers are hard to find.

(22) comments

Pitching Stats 2 - Home v. Road 

With all of the talk about Citizens being a hitter park few people have really talked about the effect that the park is having on Phils pitching stats. Citizens has been having some strange effects. Here are the facts of the case, ladies and gentlemen …

@Citizens Bank: WHIP / ERA
Wolf: 1.20 / 2.82
Myers: 1.21 / 3.52
Millwood: 1.41 / 4.62
Milton: 1.47 / 4.05
Padilla: 1.49 / 5.40

On the Road: WHIP / ERA
Wolf: 1.05 / 3.04
Myers: 1.59 / 4.61
Millwood: 1.56 / 5.13
Milton: 1.64 / 5.08
Padilla: 1.34 / 2.19

The most intriguing difference seems to be with the effect Citizens has on Myers and Padilla: Wolf is uniformly pitching well away and at home, while Milton and Millwood are uniformly pitching badly. (Yes, Milton is pitching badly, though you wouldn’t know it given the fact that he’s 9-1.)

Padilla? He seems to be pitching substantially better on the road than at home. His ERA is less than half on the road than it is at home! The data indicates that Padilla has played badly at home.

Myers, meanwhile, seems to pitch well at home. Bizarrely, given what we’ve been told about Citizen’s cozy contours giving up lots and lots of home runs, Myers has found a way to pitch better at home in a hitters park than on the road.

What really had me intruiged, though, was this:

Strikeouts per 9 innings: (home / away)
Wolf: 5.40 / 6.08
Myers: 6.46 / 6.37
Millwood: 8.76 / 5.70
Milton: 8.91 / 5.77
Padilla: 7.46 / 5.11

Look at the differences between Wolf & Myers and Millwood, Milton & Padilla: Millwood, Milton & Padilla strike out a lot more players at home than they do on the road while Wolf & Milton are fairly consistent. Myers and Wolf have had success at Citizens, and the other three haven't. It suggests that power pitchers accustomed to getting strikeouts are faring very badly at Citizens.

Notice that when Millwood, Milton & Padilla go on the road they strike out fewer guys than Wolf and Myers, but at Citizens they strike out substantially more. This brings up a puzzling question: why do those three have so much success in striking guys out at home and then turn ordinary on the road? (Or, why do Wolf & Myers have so much success by lowering their strikeouts at home and increasing them on the road?) It seems puzzling.

(It occurs, as I write this, that my method of analysis is sort of amateur scientistish: there are bigger variables at work here like whether Myers pitched in rainy conditions, against whom did he pitch, how much run support he got, etc. I draw broad conclusions based on the data before me. If I'm wrong, tell me and don't spare my feelings.)

As I said earlier, the starting pitching has been a bust, with the exception of Wolf. The relievers are turning in a terrific performance:

Home:
Rotation:
1.35 WHIP / 4.08 ERA
Bullpen: 1.33 WHIP ./ 3.94 ERA

Road:
Rotation: 1.47 WHIP / 4.28 ERA
Bullpen: 1.43 WHIP / 4.70 ERA

Each of the Phils relievers reacts differently to Citizens:

Billy Wagner pitches better at Citizens then on the road:
Home: 0.64 WHIP / 1.64 ERA
Road: 0.78 WHIP / 5.00 ERA

Tim Worrell is better on the road:
Home: 1.25 WHIP / 3.57 ERA
Road: 1.19 WHIP / 2.55 ERA

I thought that the stats were very interesting and illuminating. What does everyone else think?

(32) comments

Pitching Stats ...  

I've been concentrating on batting and fielding stats quite a lot so I figure that it might be good to start following the Phils pitching.

WHIP (BB + H / IP = WHIP)

WHIP is probably the best stat to keep track of, instead of a pitchers win/loss record, because it tracks how often a pitcher is able to keep runners off the base paths. It is a stat Moneyball types like myself love because it is a much better judge of a pitcher's ability than Win-Loss. (One of the finest pieces I ever read in Baseball Primer was a deconstruction of the 2002 A's pitching which revealed that Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito was the weakest of the A's "Big Three". Baseball writers, dazzled by Zito's 23-5 record ignored teammate Tim Hudson. Not coincidentially, Zito had a mediocre year in '03 and started off awful in '04. Hudson and Mulder have been far more consistent.)

Starting Rotation:
Wolf: 1.14
Padilla: 1.42
Myers: 1.42
Millwood: 1.49
Milton: 1.56
Team: 1.40

(stats current to June 19, 2004)

Added together, Milton, Millwood, Myers, Padilla and Wolf have a collective WHIP of 1.42, while the rest of the staff is far stingier at 1.38 ... subtract Wolf, the Phils best starter, and the Phils starting staff looks pretty awful: 1.48 ... the bottom line is that the Phillies starting rotation, after carrying the team in '03, has been a colossal bust this season.


Milton in particular has been a disappointment: despite his 8-1 record, his WHIP is dead-last among the starters, his ERA is a 4.60 and his BAA is an absurdly high .285 (both only ahead of Millwood) ... Milton has succeeded because the Phils have furnished him with considerable run-support in his starts.

Millwood is also treading water: his ERA is nearly 5.00 and his BAA is .287, both dead last among the five starters. He seems to be fading quickly.

The Phils stongest pitcher looks to be Randy Wolf: despite being just 2-3, he leads the starting rotation in BAA, WHIP & ERA. In a game seven, there is little doubt I'd want Wolf on the mound ahead of everyone else.

So where do the Phils stack up in '04? They are 10th in NL ERA and 11th in NL WHIP, down considerably from '03, when they were 6th in WHIP and 7th in ERA. The Phils were 2nd in WHIP and ERA Pre-'03 All Star Break and then 14th in WHIP and 12th in ERA after. The team's mediocre pitching performance from the end of '03 has carried over in '04. The only pitcher immune so far has been Wolf. (And even he suffered a dramatic Part II collapse in '03: 3.31 ERA; 1.09 WHIP; .204 BAA v. 5.60 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, .274 BAA.)

The Marlins, in contrast have a stingy rotation and are pitching well: their WHIP is just 1.29 and they appear that they will get stronger when Josh Beckett fixes his blister problems. Even the Mets (!) are ahead of the Phils in WHIP and ERA.

The offense is going to have to carry these guys ...

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