Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee to Philles. The Analysis Begins.



OK for starters let me say that THIS is why some years ago I decided to never again root for the Pirates, and instead adopt the Phillies, the squad from my adopted hometown. The Pirates, unlike the Steelers or Penguins, never understood that loyalty is created by mutual respect. They didn't respect me, so I left. Fuck em.

Anyways, Cliff Lee, in a delightful about-face, signed with the Phils. This is great for two reasons. 1. My fiancee had just broken up with Chase Utley and made Cliff Lee her Phillies boyfriend... and then he got traded. 2. This creates the best rotation we've seen in the majors in at least a decade, but is it the best ever?

Here's a little statistical rundown of some of the generally accepted "best ever" rotations. In order to control for the old 4 man rotations vs. today's 5 man rotations, I'm averaging rotation stats where appropriate. I've used W-L, ERA and Wins over Replacement Pitcher (to measure how valuable they were to their team given ballpark, defensive quality, run support and statistical norms that particular season):

1927 New York Yankees
Waite Hoyt (22-7, 2.63, 5.6)
Urban Shocker (18-6, 2.84, 2.7)
Herb Pennock (19-8, 3.00, 3.0
Dutch Ruether (13-6, 3.38, 1.6)
George Pipgras (10-3, 4.11, 1.3)
Avg WRP = 2.84
Total WRP = 14.2


1954 Cleveland Indians

Early Wynn (23-11, 2.73, 5.2)
Mike Garcia (19-8, 2.64, 5.1)
Bob Lemon (23-7, 2.72, 4.2)
Art Houtteman (15-7, 3.35, 1.3)
Bob Feller (13-3, 3.09, 1.7)
Avg WRP = 3.5
Total WRP = 17.5

1993 Atlanta Braves
Greg Maddux (20-10, 2.36, 6.2)
Tom Glavine (22-6, 3.20, 3.8)
Steve Avery (18-6, 2.94, 4.0)
John Smoltz (15-11, 3.62, 2.8)
Avg WRP = 4.2
Total WRP = 16.8
(Avg = 3.4, Tot = 17 with Pete Smith: 4-8, 4.37, 0.2)

1971 Baltimore Orioles
Mike Cueller (20-9, 3.08, 2.7)
Pat Dobson (20-8, 2.90, 3.1)
Jim Palmer (20-9, 2.68, 4.1)
Dave McNally (21-5, 2.68, 3.1)
Avg WRP = 3.25
Total WRP = 13

2003 Oakland A's
Barry Zito (14-12, 3.30, 4.9)
Tim Hudson (16-7, 2.70, 6.7)
Ted Lilly (12-10, 4.34, 2.0)
Mark Mulder (15-9, 3.13, 5.1)
Avg WRP = 4.675
Total WRP = 18.7

1998 Atlanta Braves
Greg Maddux (18-9, 2.22, 6.1)
Tom Glavine (20-6, 2.47, 5.6)
Denny Neagle (16-11, 3.55, 2.0)
Kevin Millwood (17-8, 4.08, 0.6)
John Smoltz (17-3, 2.90, 3.2)
Avg WRP = 3.5
Total WRP = 17.5

Here were their numbers last year (since WRP accounts for team defense and run support, Oswalt and Lee have two different sets of numbers, which account for their trades, WRP is a cummulative statistic).

Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44, 6.9)
Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18, 2.7 + 1.6 = 4.3)
Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06, 4.7)
Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76, 2.3 + 2.8 = 5.1)
Kyle Kendrick (11-10, 4.73, -0.3)
Avg WRP = 4.14
Total WRP = 20.7

So, a few things jump out here. First, Lee and Oswalt were significantly less effective relative to a replacement than Halladay and Hamels last year (although Oswalt's cummulative stats in Adjusted Wins and other metrics were really good relative to leage norms). Edit - I mistakenly forgot to account for the fact that WRP is cummulative, this has been fixed. Second, given the statistical evidence that Kyle Kendrick is essentially interchangeable with a AAA player (and so is Joe Blanton), it's not so bad they got some pitching despite the fact that they seemed so strong in that area. Kendrick brings the average staff WRP down more than half a point. It's worth noting how much of a pitcher's effectiveness in traditional stats is derived from the team's success. Kendrick was a .500 pitcher last year, but only because he played for a team that won almost 100 games.w

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