Thursday, October 19, 2006

Arms For The Poor

With money to burn and holes to be filled, let's look at some pitchers! In our pointless, sure-not-to-be-followed plan for the offseason, we're left with three spots for starting pitchers and about $22 million bucks. Easy enough.

First, though, we need to figure out how to properly evaluate pitchers. In my last post, I used ERA+. It's a perfectly fine shorthand, but you need to realize its limitations. Since it's based on ERA, it doesn't factor in a team's defense. Pitchers playing in front of the Tigers are sure to have an advantage over ones in front of the Nats. Just as pitchers lobbing the ball in Texas are going to have higher ERAs than ones working in San Diego (although, it should be noted, that ERA+ does try to adjust for this.) There are other factors that ERA doesn't accurately capture, such as a player's luck.

To get a more accurate assessment, it's important to break down the pitcher's stats, and look at the components, those things the pitcher controls (ie walks, strikeouts, etc). The defense really has a minimal impact on those things; they're almost completely in the pitcher's control. If we can isolate them, we can get a better snapshot of what the pitcher himself is doing.

For a much better, more in-depth, and less half-cocked explanation, I strongly, strongly, STRONGLY urge you to read this USS Mariner piece on evaluating pitcher talent. It explains which stats are best to use, why they're important, and where the danger signs are.

In evaluating pitchers, I'm going to use FIP, which aims to use those components, which USS Mariner rightly says are so essential, to provide a baseline ERA. FIP, which stands for Fielding Independent Pitching is basically what it sounds like. It's not perfect, but it does a better job of assessing how well a pitcher did or didn't pitch. (If you're interested in more info about this and the debate about its -- and other defense-independent measures -- check this out, but especially the many links on the bottom.)

I'll be linking to each pitcher's profile at Fangraphs. You can delve further into the numbers, as each of those component stats are found there. As one of the commenters in another thread pointed out, with the prospects of Vidro and Lopez, groundball pitchers might be best avoided.

The other important thing I'm looking for is innings and durability, neither of which the Nats had last year. We simply need at least one Loaiza-type, a pitcher who can consistently go 6+ innings without getting the snot beaten out of him. Taking a risk on some injury prone players (as they did with Astacio and Armas) last year is fine in one or two of the spots, but with a staff anchored by John Patterson and a AAA team that lacks productive starting pitchers, they need innings out of someone.

NAME             IP/3         BB9  K9  GB%  LD%  FB%  FIP
Miguel Batista 206 74 198 3.7 4.8
52 20 28 4.58
Adam Eaton 65 128 199 3.3 5.9 37
24 38 5.37
Jason Marquis 194 207 201 3.5 4.5 43
17 40 5.96
Gil Meche 186 143 127
4.1 7.5 43 19 38 4.68
Tomo Ohka 97 180 84 3.3 4.6 39 21
40 5.01
Ramon Ortiz 190 171 128 3.0 4.9 41 19
40 5.51
Vicente Padilla 200 147 115 3.2
7.0 44 22 34 4.31
Jeff Suppan 190 194 188 3.3 4.9 47 23
31 4.76
John Thomson 80 98 198 3.6 5.2 44 21 36 5.10
Jeff Weaver 172 224 220
2.5 5.6 38 23 38 5.52
Kip Wells 44 182 138
4.3 4.0 51 20 29 4.87
Jamey Wright 156 171 78 3.7 4.6
58 18 24 4.94

Ted Lilly 181 126 197
4.0 7.9 38 19 43 4.85
Mark Mulder 93 205 225 3.4 4.8
55 22 24 6.06
Mark Redman 167 178 191 3.4
4.1 44 20 36 5.04
Randy Wolf 56 80 136
5.2 7.0 37 18 44 6.48

IP/3 is the last three years of IP; Red and green mean that the player is particularly bad or good in that category.

OK, so there's a mish-mashed compilation of stats -- and links to more in-depth info -- who do you want? How would you rank them?

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