Monday, February 04, 2008
I’m going to use pitching projections from the 2008 Bill James Handbook here because James predictions are uncannily accurate and they make as good a starting reference point as anything …
Let’s start with the Mets …
Win – Loss Record / ERA / K/BB ratio
Johan Santana: 16-8 / 3.00 / 4.00
Pedro Martinez: 10-4 / 2.88 / 4.65
John Maine: 12-11 / 4.05 / 2.08
Oliver Perez: 9-12 / 4.69 / 2.34
Oliver Hernandez: 8-7 / 3.95 / 2.31
Now Pedro’s numbers are based on his throwing just 125 innings, so I guess this presumes that he might still have some nagging injuries. That’s a reasonable presumption. The teaming of Pedro and Santana really might be deadly, but the rest of the Mets rotation looks pretty spotty. Maine and Perez had great, but largely fluky seasons in 2007. The Mets will have a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation, but that's it.
Let’s move onto the Phillies …
Cole Hamels: 15-7 / 3.33 / 3.75
Brett Myers: 6-5 (29 saves) / 4.17 / 2.51
Jamie Moyer: 11-10 / 4.31 / 2.09
Adam Eaton: 8-10 / 4.89 / 1.94
Kyle Kendrick: unk.
The projections for the Phillies are a little screwy because they have Myers as the Phillies closer and there is no data for Kendrick to gain an accurate idea about because he’s pitched just one season. My gut tells me that Myers would probably have an ERA closer to 4.00 and his win-loss would be close to Hamels 15-7 if they ran his numbers as a starter … Hamels numbers strongly suggest that he’ll turn in another strong season and might be a player in the Cy Young race if he tosses enough innings … Eaton will be better than he was in 2007, but only with Adam Eaton would a 4.89 ERA be considered an improvement (2007 ERA: 6.29).
Basically, the Phillies rotation will be solid, but not great, though if Hamels and Santana cancel each other out, then the Phillies might have a slight edge here if Pedro struggles.
Let's move on to the Braves.
John Smoltz: 17-7 / 3.22 / 4.06
Tim Hudson: 15-9 / 3.67 / 2.19
Chuck James: 12-8 / 3.86 / 2.38
Tom Glavine: 11-10 / 3.99 / 1.59
Buddy Carlyle: 7-6 / 4.11 / 2.97
If the 2008 Atlanta Braves rotation isn’t the best in the N.L. East, I’ll eat my hat. Say whatever you want about the Braves, but they do know how to assemble pitching staffs and they’ve assembled another good one with their ’08 team. Glavine might not be the Cy Young Award winner he used to be, but he’ll be hurling behind a good defense and he’ll do what he does best: get lots and lots of pop-fly outs. Smoltz and Hudson look like Cy Young contenders, and James looks like a solid #3.
Clearly the Braves are tops here. It’s the ‘90s all over again.
Any of these 3 rotations could top the others. Its a matter of which middle of the rotation guy will step up and have that career year. We know someone will likely do that. Hopefully Kendrick, Moyer, Eaton, or another Philly will be that someone. Also call ups could come in and provide a Kendrick like season and change the face of a rotation.
Division order by strength of rotation is:
NYM - followed closely by
ATL - with a DISTANT third of
If Hampton is as healthy as they say, the the Mets and Braves are fairly even. Santana gives the edge because he is FAR better than either Hudson or Smoltz. Pedro came out last year after his rehab to go 3-1 with an ERA under 3 - no reason to think that will not continue. And your analysis that Maine and Perez had fluke seasons has absolutely no basis in fact. Both had built on their success in 2006, and will continue to build on it. No reason to think they won;t both win 15 games again, maybe more if they are able to have stronger 2nd halves. Then we have El Duque, who was, inning for inning, the Mets BEST pitcher last year.
And last year - WITHOUT Santana OR Pedro, the Mets rotation was better than the Phillies by half a run. And the Braves were best in the division with a 4.11 ERA, .15 better than NY.
Phillies brought Myers back to the Rotation - good move. Definitely strengthens the rotation - but it will only last if Lidge returns to form. Let's say he does and Myers stays in the rotation all year.
It doesn't matter.
The Braves had added Glavine, who is a decent addition to the middle of their rotation and solidifies them, especially if Hampton is back to be #4 and has anything left. I expect Glavine to win 13-14 games and have a decent ERA around 4, and who knows what Hampton will give, if he stays healthy - let's say he does and pitches slightly better than glavine. Under 4 ERA and wins 14 games. Pretty good rotation with fill in the blank #5 bringing up the rear. I expect their rotation to be better, but not by too much. They were already top three in the league, I don't expect them to do much better.
But the Mets, adding Santana and a healthy Pedro will have an ERA under three.
The only team in the NL with an all around even or better rotation is the D-Backs. And its a close call, only because the back end of their rotation is very young and unknown, and who knows what RJ has left in the tank.
I expect it to be a close race in the East - but not because the Phillies have good pitching. They will slug their way into a pennant race, and maybe win the wild card. But your reign atop the NL East will be very short lived.
Had Santana been a Met last year, and the Mets Run scoring average held up every time he started a game, Santana would have gone 33-2.
Obviously things don't always work out that way... but just remember that Santana is coming to the NL, to where players are not used to seeing him, and where lineups are generally shallower by two hitters... not to mention the fact that he is playing for a team that should score well more than 2 runs a game for him.
Santana should easily win at least 22 games, have an ERA under 2.5, and strike out over 300.
Cy Young anyone?
Write it down.