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Aces Wild in Philadelphia

Posted By Christopher Rowe On Feb 18 2011 @ 7:12 pm In MLB,Philadelphia | 2 Comments

[1] [2]Media, fans and most of the baseball world have been talking about the Phillies pitching staff since right around December 16, 2010 – which was the day that Cliff Lee opted to return to Philadelphia. Fans will remember where they were when they got this early holiday surprise (see December 14, 2010 http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/cliff-lee-once-and-future-phillie [3]) when [4]the Gift of the Magi occurred. Cliff Lee’s return to the Phillies would assemble the most formidable starting rotation of the Modern Era – augmenting a team that has won four straight division titles, two [5]NLCS and one World [6]Championship between 2007-2010 (averaging 93 wins). Despite the syllogism of the “Five Aces” theory, this could compete with the greatest pitching staffs in baseball history no matter who the fifth starter may be (Blanton, Kendrick, Worley). Comparisons began immediately with the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s (Madduz, Glavine, Smoltz, Avery, [7]Millwood/Lieberandt) or the Threepeat Oakland A’s of the 1970s, the 1960s Dodgers (Koufax, Drysdale, Sutton, Osteen ) or early-1950s Indians (Feller, Lemon, Wynn, Garcia), 1986 New York Mets (Gooden, Darling, Ojeda, Fernandez, Cone) or most notably the Baltimore Orioles of the 1970s (culminating with the last time one starting staff sported four 20-game winners of Palmer-McNally-Dobson- [8]Cuellar in 1971). Naturally, most of those occurred during the era of four starters rather than the modern five (1986-1988 Mets, 1990s Braves notwithstanding), but we are essentially comparing four to four anyway.

[9]Monikers would begin immediately… should they be called “Fantastic Four” or “Fearsome Foursome” or “Four Horsemen of the Phil-pocalypse” or simply “Four Aces”? “R2C2″ was suggested as were a litany of other nicknames but the bottom line was that a staff which sported Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, veteran Roy Oswalt and the former World Series MVP Cole Hamels [10]would not be exponentially better with the return of Lee, who’s been virtually unhittable in half a season plus the 2009 postseason. Four of these starting pitchers could be considered #1 starters on many other MLB teams but for 2011 there four aces would belong to the Phillies. Fantastic… Amazing… Sensational… but speculative at best. Until they took the field and actually performed, this was metaphorical. 

[11]Baseball is one of the more quantifiable sports. There is no way to measure Ray Lewis’ true leadership on a football field or the presence of Michael Jordan on the basketball court and the true value of a hot goalie in the NHL playoffs is not able to be gauged. Thanks to the evolution of

[12]

Christy Matthewson, Merkle, Doyle & Snodgrass

[13]

Johnson

Sabremetrics, the grandson of grizzled “old tyme” statisticians (with their stopwatches and radar guns and their game leg that acts up when a pitcher tops 100 MPH or when a [14] [15]thunderstorm is approaching) quantifiable comparisons can be made between eras (Hank Aaron vs. Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson vs. Randy Johnson), among players of a generation (Barry Bonds vs. Albert Pujols) or across continents (Ichiro [16]Suzuki vs. Ty Cobb). Despite the game’s nuances from stadium to stadium, era to era and influence of science, society and spectators, baseball remains both constant and evolving in a fluid world.

[17]

Ichiro

Much as we can see that Babe Ruth’s home run totals rivaled those of most major league franchises in his day, we [18]can witness the relative obsolescence of 300 game pitchers heading into the 21st century. Evolutionarily speaking, we can witness the decline of the stolen base but that makes us appreciate the efforts of Rickey Henderson, Lou Brock and Maury Wills in the same way that we look to baseball’s “Golden Age” when three teams thrived in New York City. Willie Mays, Duke Snider and Mickey Mantle once dominated “The Great Debate” but due to societal and

[19]

First pitch California baseball in MLB 1958

economic forces, the baseball landscape would change drastically. Between 1950 and 1960 there was transcontinental franchise movement, a population shift to the Sun Belt of America and the complete racial integration of major league baseball – not to mention expansion past the original 16 teams, frequent jet travel and unparalleled social forces that [20]swept the country and the game alike. Baseball was affected but remained familiar. Bases still stood 90 feet apart, three outs still comprised half an inning and the Yankees always seemed to be in the World Series – usually featuring Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra. They “Say Hey Kid” moved from New York to San Francisco with his Giants while the Dodgers devastated the once-idyllic fable of Brooklyn being the consummate baseball neighborhood. Even in  Hollywood the game still lasted 9 innings and three strikes meant an out. The game remained the same as progress moved it forward.

[21]Today we look at past performance to indicate future success. We simulate games or entire seasons by shoving algorithms into a computer, which is what I’ve done to prove that the 2011 Phillies [22]rotation is the best of its generation. Best all-time will be argued forever once we have some results!!! Below you will find rankings for all 30 MLB rotations as well as an individualized listing for 150 starting pitchers (5 per team x 30 teams). These offer two measurable realities (based on wins, ERA, IP, WHIP, ER and WAR). First where team collective rotations rank in relation to one another. Second, where each pitcher ranks in relation to their peers. For example if a team has 4 of 5 starters in the Top 20 but then their fifth is ranked 150, their average rank would be approximately 35. I’ve assigned point values to each of these stats listed above (wins, ERA, IP, WHIP, ER and WAR) and ranked staffs accordingly.

Team Score Rank
PHI 1229.17 1
LAD 1099.54 2
SFG 1080.86 3
STL 1000.71 4
OAK 941.28 5
LAA 939.69 6
SEA 920.58 7
BOS 913.69 8
MIL 882.2 9
CWS 848.32 10
ATL 843.36 11
DET 795.02 12
FLA 771.38 13
TBR 757.31 14
NYY 749.08 15
MIN 727.76 16
COL 691.3 17
CHC 675.6 18
TEX 672.14 19
HOU 656.61 20
CIN 622.89 21
BAL 608.82 22
TOR 583.86 23
SDP 550.13 24
ARI 500.06 25
NYM 487.76 26
CLE 451.16 27
PIT 338.16 28
KCR 272.99 29
WAS 249.56 30

[23] [24]Likewise, I’ve taken the top prospective 150 starting pitchers (no more or less than 5 per team) and ranked them. I’ve also indicated projections for ERA and IP.

Player Team/Rank Comp ERA COMP IP Score Overall Rank  
             
Hernandez, Felix SEA1 2.84 209 453.53 1 1
Halladay, Roy PHI1 3.04 209 376.2 2 1
Sabathia, CC NYY1 3.30 202 345.42 4 1
Lincecum, Tim SFG1 3.12 189 325.08 5 1
Kershaw, Clayton LAD1 3.07 179 316.83 6 1
Carpenter,Chris STL1 3.24 197 315.2 7 1
Jimenez, COL1 3.22 193 312.66 8 1
Johnson, Josh FLA1 3.07 173 306.21 9 1
Lester, Jon BOS1 3.35 184 305.44 10 1
Verlander, Justin DET1 3.47 196 301.84 12 1
Weaver, Jered LAA1 3.50 193 291.43 14 1
Price, David TBR1 3.37 175 287 15 1
Greinke, Zack MIL1 3.38 193 281.78 16 1
Cahill, Trevor OAK1 3.53 176 260.48 19 1
Hudson, Tim ATL1 3.41 178 254.54 21 1
Latos, Matt SDP1 3.30 157 241.78 23 1
Wilson, CJ TEX1 3.54 146 214.62 28 1
Romero, R TOR1 3.89 183 204.96 32 1
Myers, Brett HOU1 3.84 176 176 45 1
Buehrle CWS1 4.07 187 175.78 46 1
Hudson, Daniel ARI1 3.20 104 170.56 49 1
Guthrie, Mark BAL1 4.09 185 170.2 50 1
Liriano, Pedro MIN1 4.07 167 156.98 60 1
Pelfrey, Mike NYM1 4.00 180 151.2 63 1
Zambrano, C CHC1 3.79 133 139.65 74 1
Carmona, F CLE1 4.32 178 122.82 81 1
Volquez, E CIN1 3.89 96 91.2 99 1
Maholm, P PIT1 4.45 172 67.08 122 1
Hochevar, L KCR1 4.79 125 27.5 145 1
Hernandez, L WAS1 4.82 154 3.08 149 1
Wainwright, A STL2 2.98 198 368.28 3 2
Cain, Matt SFG2 3.26 193 304.94 11 2
Lee, Cliff PHI2 3.29 189 292.95 13 2
Haren, Danny LAA2 3.76 200 250 22 2
Billingsley, Chad LAD2 3.57 175 222.25 27 2
Scherzer DET2 3.77 173 214.52 29 2
Rodriguez,W. HOU2 3.64 178 213.6 30 2
Anderson, Brett OAK2 3.49 134 203.68 34 2
Gallardo, Yovani MIL2 3.68 171 198.36 36 2
Lewis, Colby TEX2 3.8 161 194.81 37 2
Floyd, Gavin CWS2 3.9 173 192.03 38 2
Garza, Matt CHC2 3.81 182 187.46 40 2
Hughes, Phil NYY2 3.8 141 170.61 48 2
Vargas, Jason SEA2 3.97 161 167.44 54 2
Arroyo, Bronson CIN2 4 190 159.6 58 2
Pavano, Carl MIN2 4.24 190 146.3 70 2
Matusz, Brian BAL2 4.06 152 144.4 72 2
Richard, Clayton SDP2 4.05 171 135.09 77 2
Morrow, B. TOR2 4.04 126 122.22 82 2
Masterson, B CLE2 4.23 148 115.44 85 2
Lowe, Derek ATL2 4.19 176 114.4 88 2
Nolasco, Ricky FLA2 4.16 157 106.76 91 2
Saunders, Joe ARI2 4.25 180 106.2 92 2
Shields, James TBR2 4.45 183 102.48 95 2
Beckett BOS2 4.31 145 101.5 97 2
De La Rosa COL2 4.17 138 92.46 98 2
Ohlendorf PIT2 4.14 126 88.2 101 2
Niese NYM2 4.26 149 86.42 102 2
Francis KCR2 4.5 111 56.61 133 2
Marquis WAS2 4.46 111 42.18 141 2
Danks CWS3 3.54 187 274.89 17 3
Hanson ATL3 3.31 174 266.22 18 3
Oswalt PHI3 3.44 183 256.2 20 3
Lilly LAD3 3.63 175 211.75 31 3
Garcia, Jaime STL3 3.36 138 204.24 33 3
Dempster CHC3 3.83 188 189.88 39 3
Gonzalez, Gio OAK3 3.91 168 184.8 41 3
Sanchez, Jonathan SFG3 3.76 171 184.68 42 3
Marcum MIL3 3.7 158 180.12 43 3
Santana, Ervin LAA3 4.09 185 170.2 51 3
Sanchez, Anibal FLA3 3.82 166 169.32 53 3
Lackey BOS3 4.14 185 160.95 57 3
Davis, Wade TBR3 4.01 148 148 65 3
Cueto CIN3 3.97 170 147.9 66 3
Baker MIN3 4.12 165 146.85 69 3
Fister SEA3 4.05 151 144.96 71 3
Kennedy ARI3 3.95 156 138.84 75 3
Porcello DET3 4.16 158 134.3 78 3
Bergesen BAL3 4.27 156 115.44 84 3
Cecil, Brett TOR3 4.27 155 114.7 86 3
Lannan WAS3 4.17 152 101.84 96 3
Talbot CLE3 4.4 139 84.79 104 3
Burnett NYY3 4.53 174 83.52 105 3
Webb TEX3 3.75 60 75.6 108 3
Young NYM3 3.92 78 71.76 114 3
Cook, Aaron COL3 4.37 140 65.8 125 3
Norris HOU3 4.4 142 62.48 128 3
Davies, Kyle KCR3 4.69 164 52.48 135 3
Correia PIT3 4.53 150 46.5 138 3
Harang SDP3 4.74 130 13 147 3
Buchholz BOS4 3.49 156 237.12 24 4
Hamels PHI4 3.57 184 233.68 25 4
Braden OAK4 3.67 168 225.12 26 4
Kuroda LAD4 3.65 169 201.11 35 4
Jurrjens ATL4 3.57 140 177.8 44 4
Jackson CWS4 4.09 186 171.12 47 4
Pineiro LAA4 3.93 157 169.56 52 4
Wolf MIL4 3.98 189 162.54 56 4
Wells, Randy CHC4 3.93 173 157.43 59 4
Chacin, Jhoulys COL4 3.5 117 156.78 61 4
Niemann TBR4 4.06 163 154.85 62 4
Bumgarner SFG4 3.54 113 146.9 68 4
Hunter TEX4 3.96 134 140.7 73 4
Happ HOU4 3.62 112 136.64 76 4
Dickey NYM4 3.88 137 131.52 79 4
Stauffer SDP4 3.36 87 128.76 80 4
Slowey MIN4 4.22 145 114.55 87 4
Westbrook STL4 4.16 161 109.48 89 4
Duchscherer BAL4 3.59 74 105.08 93 4
Vazquez FLA4 4.19 158 102.7 94 4
Garcia, Freddy NYY4 4.44 144 82.08 106 4
Tomlin CLE4 4.18 97 80.51 107 4
Rzepczynski TOR4 4.22 95 75.05 109 4
Bailey CIN4 4.25 126 74.34 110 4
Coke DET4 3.87 64 72.96 113 4
Chen KCR4 4.46 124 68.2 117 4
McDonald, J. PIT4 3.92 72 66.24 124 4
French SEA4 4.46 104 57.2 132 4
Zimmermann WAS4 4.18 85 56.1 134 4
Duke ARI4 4.7 161 22.54 146 4
Duensing MIN5 3.5 108 163.08 55 5
Wood CIN5 3.49 111 149.85 64 5
Garland LAD5 4.02 180 147.6 67 5
Zito SFG5 4.17 178 119.26 83 5
Matsuzaka BOS5 4.25 143 108.68 90 5
Bedard SEA5 3.71 68 88.4 100 5
Volstad FLA5 4.31 163 86.39 103 5
Arrieta, Jake BAL5 4.34 110 73.7 111 5
LeBlanc SDP5 4.3 136 73.44 112 5
Penny DET5 4.33 105 71.4 115 5
Blanton PHI5 4.42 167 70.14 116 5
Mazzaro KCR5 4.46 124 68.2 118 5
Figueroa, Nelson HOU5 4.11 93 67.89 119 5
Nova NYY5 4.06 71 67.45 120 5
McCarthy OAK5 4.05 70 67.2 121 5
Drabek TOR5 4.04 69 66.93 123 5
Hellickson TBR5 3.87 57 64.98 126 5
Hammel, J. COL5 4.44 159 63.6 127 5
Galarraga, A. ARI5 4.41 144 61.92 129 5
Narveson MIL5 4.4 135 59.4 130 5
Kazmir LAA5 4.62 150 58.5 131 5
Carrasco CLE5 4.45 85 47.6 136 5
Capuano NYM5 4.18 71 46.86 137 5
Holland TEX5 4.5 91 46.41 139 5
Gorzelanny WAS5 4.46 122 46.36 140 5
Harrell CWS5 4.32 50 34.5 142 5
Olsen PIT5 4.54 105 31.5 143 5
Minor ATL5 4.44 76 30.4 144 5
Lohse STL5 4.81 117 3.51 148 5
Silva CHC5 4.83 118 1.18 150 5
             

[25] [26]This listing also tells us for example whether or not Joe Blanton is the best fifth starter in baseball (which seems to be the mantra of a lot of misguided Phillies fans). Based on ERA and IP, Blanton would rank 11 and arguably that at best since Kyle [27]Lohse or the occasional Jason Hammel or Brandon McCarthy or even Tom Gorzelanny could overtake Blanton. This of course is precluding the potential for someone not on the list to make a splash and take a rotation spot that might not be expected. That is where sabremetrics ends and the game of baseball begins. A player has to make the team and perform well and that cannot be predicted. Nostradamus never had opportunity to observe baseball but that is why they play the games!

Make sure you also see :
AL Preview http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/mlb-2011-preview-al-east/ [28]
NL Preview http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/mlb-2011-national-league-preview/ [29]
MLB Standings Preview : http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/mlb-predictions-standings-2011/ [30]

Cy Young Predictions: http://prosportsblogging.com/mlb-baseball/2011-cy-young-predictions/ [31]

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