The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

We need to talk about this

Remember the other week, when I explained pointedly why the baseball pitching stat known for some reason as "wins" is extremely bad? And you remember how I used Jason Marquis’ Major-League-leading wins total as my prime example of why this is a bad stat?

Really, guys. Take that lesson to heart. Otherwise, you might write a really stupid article like this.

Let’s run down the list, shall we? Carlos Zambrano. Grotesquely overpaid, sure, but welcome to the Cubs. I’m seeing — and correct me if I’m mistaken here — a 3.36 ERA, 1.318 WHIP, and 130 ERA+ over 107 IP. That’s not too damn bad a line. Marquis? Well, his ERA of 3.49 is a bit worse, his WHIP of 1.264 is a bit better, and his ERA+ of 129 is damn near the exact same. Which tells us that Jason Marquis has been about as good a pitcher as Carlos Zambrano this season. Note also that Marquis is having a career year — as you can tell by the fact that his stats every other year are much lower, and usually below average — whereas it’s just business as usual for Z. So Z will probably continue at about this pace (possibly improving a bit; looks like he’s actually slightly down this year), whereas Marquis can safely be expected to fall off a cliff eventually. But that’s as maybe; why does Jason Marquis have so many more wins? Easy. Go here. Scroll down to the "starting pitching" section. See the column labeled RS/GS? That’s the average number of runs the Rockies are scoring in games that Jason Marquis starts. It’s 5.2. Zambrano’s is 4. I’ll wager the brunt of the difference in wins is to be found in the Rockies scoring 4/3 as many runs as the Cubs. That… kind of matters, yeah?

Okay, you don’t like that answer. Theodore Roosevelt Lilly, then. 3.59 ERA is very similar to Marquis’, 1.154 WHIP is much much muchmuchmuch better, 122 ERA+ is a small amount worse (if you’re wondering how that could be with a WHIP so much better, it’s because Marquis walks a shitload of dudes and Lilly gives up too many home runs, which is worse). Run support? Okay, let’s look… huh, 4.2.

Ryan Dumpster has been rotten this season, but that’s what happens when you give mediocre pitchers big contracts after one awesome year (hint, hint, Marquis fans). 4.09 ERA, 1.372 WHIP, 107 ERA+. Slightly better than average, but not very good. Ironically, the Cubs have scored 4.5 runs/game for Dumpster, which helps to make up for the mediocre pitching in those games.

Rich Harden has been fucking abysmal this year, and there’s no good explanation for that. He’s literally not even half as good a pitcher as he was last year — 5.06 ERA, 1.463 WHIP, 86 ERA+. The upside is that he’ll probably get better, since this is so unusual (last year he posted 2.07 / 1.061 / 206). The Cubs continue their trend of scoring more the worse they’re pitching, and put up 4.9 RS/GS for Harden.

I notice the rant doesn’t mention Randy Wells, and… oh dear, I can see why. 3.00 ERA, 1.148 WHIP, 146 ERA+? And he makes how little money? It’s a good thing he got data-searched out of the argument, since he completely destroys it. Randy Wells is so much better than Jason Marquis — not just average Jason Marquis, but even outstanding this-season Jason Marquis — that there’s just no comparison. And for his trouble, the Cubs have rewarded him with 3.8 RS/GS. 3.8. A run and a half less than Marquis gets. 73% as much offensive production.

Just for shits, let’s look at one more thing. Randy Wells has a total of 3 "wins lost," which is a stat that tracks how many games a pitcher left winning and then had blown by his bullpen. Jason Marquis has zero. Factor that in, and Jason Marquis has won 12 out of 19 starts (63%). Randy Wells has won 8 out of 13 (62%). That is almost exactly the same winning percentage, even though Wells has 1.4 runs fewer of support.

So what’s the point of this whole exercise? To point out that lazy people who just look at the W column and don’t think very much can end up claiming that, if only the Cubs had kept Jason Marquis, our offense and bullpen would be much better than they are. And, incidentally? Yes, the $6.375M the Cubs paid Jason Marquis last year was entirely too much for his 4.53 ERA, 1.449 WHIP, and whopping 99 ERA+. And since those, and not these, accurately reflect his career numbers (4.45 / 1.410 / 99), cutting him was the right move.

July 21st, 2009 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

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