Saturday, January 29, 2005

2005 Sox vs. Yanks Starting Pitching Comparison

What type of year is a certain pitcher going to have? Everybody wants to know the answer to that question and so people spend money buying books such as The Bill James Handbook and Baseball Forecaster in search of that answer. People not willing to spend money can get Dan Szymborsk's projections for free on Baseball Primer, and Baseball Prospectus subscribers can get Pecota. There is a very easy way to get an idea of how a player is going to perform in 2005. It is simply called the 3-2-1 formula, and is used by many statisticians, most notably Tangotiger. The 3-2-1 formula weighs the players 2004 numbers 3 times, 2003 numbers 2 times, and 2002 numbers 1 time. Tangotiger has said before that any system like Pecota is basically about 70% accurate and that the 3-2-1 formula is about 65% accurate. This means that the books that these analysts put out are basically fighting for the last 5%. Anyways, let's compare the Sox vs. Yanks 2005 starting pitching staff using the 3-2-1 formula. (Note: I am going to assume full health for all of the pitchers. I realize that Wade Miller probably will not be ready to go at the beginning of the season, but I am going to assume everyone just to compare the starting pitching staffs if everyone is in good health.)

#1 Starters: Curt Schilling vs. Randy Johnson

The matchup we have all been looking forward too. Hopefully, Schilling will be ready to pitch on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium against Johnson. The atmosphere in Yankee Stadium is going to be incredible for that game, especially if Schilling is healthy enough to pitch. Let's see what 3-2-1 projects for two of the best pitchers in baseball. (ERA is earned run average, WHIP is walks + hits/innings pitching, K/9 is the amount of strikeouts per 9 innings that pitcher averages, and BAA is the batting averages hitters have against the pitcher)

Schilling

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.15 1.04 9.32 .233

Johnson

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.11 1.07 10.5 .226
These stats are extremely similar and basically it's too close to call who is better based just on these stats. Randy Johnson is more of a strikeout pitcher than Schilling, and he will also benefit from Yankee Stadium and the spacious death valley out in left centerfield. If I had to take one of these pitchers, I would take Schilling just because of his determination and guts that he has showed. When a pitcher does what Schilling did last year in the postseason, how can you go against him?

#2 Starters Wells vs. Mussina

I am going to assume that David Wells will be the #2 starting pitcher for the Sox at the beginning of the season. Matt Clement and Wade Miller might eventually move into this position, buy I have a feeling David Wells will be pitching the second game of the year for the Sox in Yankee Stadium. Mike Mussina will be the starting #2 for the Yanks, although Carl Pavano could move into that spot.

Wells

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.87 1.19 4.75 .272

Mussina

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
4.10 1.22 7.60 .260

I expect David Wells' ERA too be a little bit higher than 3.87, as I think it will be a little bit more than 4.00. David Wells strikeout rate is amazingly low, which is not a good thing for the Red Sox or their fielders. The Sox better be ready to make plays in the field when Wells is pitching, because of the low strikeout rate. Meanwhile, Mussina's K rate is very good for someone not known as a strikeout pitcher, and batters have only hit .260 against him the past three seasons using the 3-2-1 formula. If you were to look just at last years stats, David Wells did have a lower ERA than Mussina by a almost a run. You have to remember that Wells pitched in the NL in a very spacious Petco Park and that helped him immensely. One thing to remember is that Mussina is 36 years old, while Wells is 41. Mussina is definitely a safer bet than Wells.

#3 Starters: Clement vs. Pavano

The comparison of these pitchers is very interesting because both of these pitchers were pursued by the Red Sox. The Sox went after Pavano first, stopped pursuing him when they thought they had Pedro resigned, and then went after Clement. I am excited Clement is here, as I think he will be a great fit.

Clement

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.81 1.25 8.84 .226

Pavano

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.79 1.22 5.82 .267

One thing that is not mentioned in these stats is that Matt Clement walks 3.8 batters every 9 innings that he pitches. That is absolutely horrible. Clement has known to be wild at times, and if he is going to succeed in Boston he needs to cut down on those walks. The good thing for Clement is that he strikes out so many batters. Besides Schilling and Johnson he averages the most strikeouts per 9 innings at 8.84. The rest of his stats are extremely good, but he must have his control to be effective. Pavano on the other hand is the opposite of Clement in terms of strikeouts. He averages 3 less strikeouts per 9 innings than Clement, which is a big margin. Another stat that isn't mentioned is innings pitched. Clement has only three seasons in his career where he has pitched more than 200 innings, while Pavano just has 2 seasons like that. Combine that with both of these pitchers coming to the AL for the first time, and it is very hard to predict where they will end up. Their ERA's will certainly be higher than what is listed above. I would take Clement over Pavano, because I'm hoping he pitch with control, and that strikeout rate is too high not to pick him.

#4 Pitchers: Miller vs. Wright

As I noted above, these comparisons are being done assuming full health, which certainly is somewhat of a question mark for Miller and Wright to a lesser extent. Miller had spent his whole career in Houston before signing with the Sox, while Wright has bounced around the past few years.

Miller

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.60 1.33 7.65 .236

Wright

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
6.71 1.81 7.49 .304

It is very clear from these stats that Wright's 2002 and 2003 season inflated all of his numbers to astronomical levels. There is no way that Wright is going to have an ERA, WHIP, or BAA anywhere near what the 3-2-1 formula says. Many writers have bashed the Yankees for signing Wright on what is obviously just one good year in 2004. I do not think it was a good signing because anybody can have a good year in their contract year (J.D. Drew and Javy Lopez come to mind). Miller, if healthy, can be an excellent addition to the Red Sox rotation. He was a great pitcher for the Astros, and it was a horrible mistake by them to non-tender Miller. If Wade Miller is healthy, and that's a big IF, the Red Sox have an advantage at the #4 pitcher.

#5 Pitcher Wakefield vs. Brown

Tim Wakefield is a pitcher who has been with the Red Sox longer than any player currently on the roster. It was great to see him standing on the mound after game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, after what had happened the year before. For anybody who has not seen that, I highly recommend Faith Rewarded and the 2004 World Series DVD. The DVD's have many highlights not seen before and Wakefield standing on the mound is one of them. The 5th starter spot could go to Bronson Arroyo who I think is a better pitcher and deserves it more. However, I think Terry Francona will go with the veteran to start out with, because he seems to like Bronson in the pen. Kevin Brown is a pitcher the Yankees had tried to get rid off this offseason, but no team seems willing to take on enough of his salary. I think there is still a small possibility that he gets traded before Opening Day, but for now he is the 5th starter.

Wakefield

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
4.26 1.30 6.51 .248

Brown

ERA WHIP K/9 BAA
3.64 1.25 6.83 .255

Both of these pitchers showed signs of their age last year. Wakefield is 38 and had one of his worst years last year, and Brown is 39 and heard the boo birds many times late in the season in Yankee Stadium. These stats are too low for both of these pitchers. I expect both of these pitchers had ERA's over 5.00. I would take Wakefield over Brown any day, because Wakefield is reliable and a great team player. Brown seems to get frustrated too much, as evidence by his punch in the Yankee locker room, which broke his hand. I think Brown is too unstable, and I would not be surprised if he retired after this season.

In conclusion, so much has been said about the Yankees starting pitcher with the additions of Johnson, Pavano, and Wright. Although I think they are good pitchers and will help the Yankees this season, I do not think enough credit has been given to the Red Sox for the pitchers they obtained this offseason. The Sox also obtained three starting pitchers this season, and while they do not have the appeal that Randy Johnson has, they are certainly going to help the club. The Sox also have two guys in the pen, who are more than capable starters if needed in Arroyo and John Halama. I think it all boils down to this: health and how these pitchers adapt to the AL. Curt Schilling has said before that coming to the AL and having to face the DH was a very tough transition for him. If some of these pitchers cannot make a smooth transition to the AL, expect to hear a lot of talk in July of these two teams battling for Kip Wells and Ben Sheets in order to have the best starters ready for the postseason. Because, when all is said and done, the 2005 ALCS, like the 2004 ALCS will come down to pitching between these two teams.

Matt


3 Comments:

At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Bronson Arroyo should be penciled in as the number 5 starter. In the second half of the season he pitched constistently solid. Wakefield is the perfect fit as the long reliever as we have seen in the past, and it is important to continue developing Arroyo as a starter. With that said, I think Wade Miller has the potential to be a steal. I followed him while in Houston, and have seen his great stuff. If he can stay healthy this year, then watch out. I also have concerns that Clement could turn out to be this year's Javier Vazquez. Hopefully he will prove me wrong. Spring training can't arrive soon enough!! Oh yeah, Pats will handle the Eagles.

 
At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that Bronson Arroyo should be penciled in as the number 5 starter. In the second half of the season he pitched constistently solid. Wakefield is the perfect fit as the long reliever as we have seen in the past, and it is important to continue developing Arroyo as a starter. With that said, I think Wade Miller has the potential to be a steal. I followed him while in Houston, and have seen his great stuff. If he can stay healthy this year, then watch out. I also have concerns that Clement could turn out to be this year's Javier Vazquez. Hopefully he will prove me wrong. Spring training can't arrive soon enough!! Oh yeah, Pats will handle the Eagles. ---Collins

 
At 3:42 PM, Blogger matt said...

Collins,

Thanks for the comment. Sorry it has taken me so long to write back. For a couple days, the site wouldnt let me respond back with a comment. Anyways, I don't think we will have the good problem of having 6 good starters to start the season. Will Carroll wrote today in his BP column that, "Miller is making good progress with his throwing rehab program and has a very good shot to contribute by midseason." If this is true, then Bronson will def. be the 5th starter and Wake will slid down to 4th.

I also am nervous about Clement and especially his walks, but i have confidence that Dave Wallace can help correct that problem.

I'm also in agreement with you that the Pats will kill the Eagles.

Matt

 

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