Friday, July 9, 2010

AL Pitching WAR All Stars

by Mike

Here's the fourth and final part of my WAR series.


Francisco Liriano 4.3 WAR
Cliff Lee 4.0 WAR
Jon Lester 3.5 WAR
Jered Weaver 3.2 WAR
Felix Hernandez 3.2 WAR
Justin Verlander 2.9 WAR
John Danks 2.7 WAR
Ricky Romero 2.7 WAR
Zack Greinke. 2.6 WAR

Cliff Lee 4.0 WAR
Jon Lester 3.5 WAR
Jered Weaver 3.2 WAR (Replacement for CC Sabathia)
David Price 2.3 WAR
Clay Buchholz 2.2 WAR (Injured)
CC Sabathia 2.2 WAR (Ineligible to pitch)
Andy Pettitte 2.0 WAR (Replacement for Buchholz)
Phil Hughes 1.7 WAR
Fausto Carmona 1.5 WAR
Trevor Cahill 1.1 WAR

Anybody else feel like it's a bad sign when only 3 pitchers are on both lists, 2 if you exclude Weaver being a replacement? I would have no problem if everybody after CC and down (minus Pettitte) was taken off the team. Sure CC is having a pretty good season, but Joe Girardi picked his guy over Jered Weaver, and subsequently got blasted for it. Sure, CC has some gaudy win numbers, but with that offense, that's going to happen. Weaver is out performing him in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts, with his 130 strikeouts being tops in the league. That's a pretty strong case to leave off your own guy for somebody much more deserving.

While that snub is pretty bad, the real story here is Felix Hernandez, and to a lesser extent, Francisco Liriano (I'll probably do a post analyzing Liriano's stats later because there's some interesting stuff there. His peripherals indicate he's getting lucky and unlucky all at once. He's probably a border line all star that could either light it up or get shelled in the 2nd half.) I'll save this for another post, but one of my biggest pet peeves is the over-valuing of the win-loss stat in baseball. Roy Oswalt is leading the league in losses with 10. He's 6-10, but has an 3.08 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP (7th in the league). Does that record mean he sucks? Or does Halladay's 10-7 record mean he's mediocre to above-average?
/end rant

Felix has a record of 6-5, but he's another player out-pitching his record. He's in the top 10 in ERA and WHIP. He's tops in innings pitched (128.2!) and 2nd in CG (3). He's also 2nd in strikeouts with 122. He's had 7 starts where he's given up 2 ER or less where he either got a loss or a no decision. If e gets a couple of those to be wins, he's on this team easy. With the new rule this year where pitchers can opt out of the game if they start a game this Sunday, they can be replaced with another pitcher. Jered Weaver was added this way, and he's scheduled to pitch on Sunday, so I wouldn't be surprised if he takes Weaver's spot.

I feel Pettitte, Hughes (2 more Yankees, and a Yankee manager for the team? Nah must be a coincidence.....), Carmona, and Cahill shouldn't be on this team, especially the last two. There's 2 more examples of why every team getting a player sucks. They really should've placed Shin Shoo-Choo as Cleveland's rep and Cahill is having a nice season, but there are more deserving, none of which who play for Oakland. The Pettitte addition got under my skin a little because Girardi cheated the system a tad. He wanted Pettite all along, but knew Sabathia would be able to be replaced due to the new rule. He added Sabathia, knowing he would then be taken off, and could add Pettitte, effectively giving his staff and extra all-star berth. Buchholz was put on the DL before Sunday, so Girardi just made the move then. Color me irked. I'm generally a fan of Girardi, but he's been a slut baby with some of these all star selections.


Matt Thornton 1.6 WAR
Mariano Rivera 1.2 WAR
Rafael Soriano 0.9 WAR
Joakim Soria 0.9 WAR
Jose Valverde 0.7 WAR

Matt Thornton 1.6 WAR
Mariano Rivera 1.2 WAR (Injured)
Neftali Feliz 1.1 WAR
Rafael Soriano 0.9 WAR (Replacement)
Joakim Soria 0.9 WAR
Jose Valverde 0.7 WAR

Since there was only one middle reliever, I added him to the closers list. Mainly, because everybody in baseball, minus Bobby Jenks and Ozzie Guillen, want Thornton to be the closer. After Thornton and Rivera, the rest are closers, so I listed all closers, otherwise, the next 3 guys in WAR are all middle relievers (Frank Francisco, JJ Putz, Darren Oliver). Actually, of the 13 pitchers between Rivera and Valverde, 10 are middle relievers. They are all bunched together so it doesn't make a huge difference either way.

Now that everyone's sick of looking at my numbers for the week, I'll graciously take my exit and let your brains recover for a few days. Thanks for suffering through 4 of these and humoring my research. It was a blast. If anything, at least I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Syd - On A Friday


  1. Love the gif! Calling Girardi a slut baby also have me laughing. I feel like the Pettitte (Why so many Ts?) addition was also like a farewell. He's probably retiring this year and is having a good enough year to be considered, so why not? I really don't have a problem with him on the team. Other than that I am pretty much in full agreement with this post.

  2. Oh and I lied when I said I love the .gif. I just noticed he blowing up a Blue Jay. You're a bad person.

  3. The win-loss argument has some truth to it...just because you don't get a win, it doesn't mean you didn't deserve it and just because you got a loss, that doesn't mean you did deserved it. However, I think that WAR stuff is unusable in some situations. My main point of this comment is to defend my boy, Phil Hughes. He gets a lot of run support, but you can't hold that against him. If his team is up 7-1 and he gives up a solo shot, who cares? That's how you SHOULD be pitching when your team is up 7-1. No walks, no fancy stuff, just let them put the ball in play and eat up innings to rest the bullpen. It might hurt his WAR, but Hughes is doing whatever it takes to win games.

  4. Sure, he's earned his record, but my point is there's plenty more deserving than him.
    Hughes:10-2, 3.83 ERA, 86/29 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP

    Here's some guys with his WAR or higher with worse records than him.

    Greinke: 5-8, 3.71 ERA, 101/22 K/BB, 1.16 WHIP
    Romero: 6-5, 3.39 ERA, 106/43 K/BB, 1.28 WHIP
    Marcum: 7-4, 3.44 ERA, 88/27 K/BB, 1.16 WHIP
    Colby Lewis: 8-5, 3.33 ERA, 105/38 K/BB, 1.12 WHIP
    Danks: 8-7, 3.29 ERA, 86/37 K/BB, 1.13 WHIP

    Out of those 5 and Hughes, where would you rank them? Personally, I'd take all 5 before Hughes. The K numbers and/or lower WHIPs suggest they're attacking hitters so that the 3 run HR doesn't kill them.

    I can do a post on my thoughts on the W-L if that brief didn't help.

  5. First of all, I really think that Girardi took Hughes out of his rhythm when he skipped his start on June 25. I realize that he just wants Hughes to be healthy for the playoffs but he was 5-0 in his last five starts. At that point he was 10-1, 3.17 ERA, 78/25 K/BB, 1.13 WHIP after 13 starts. Since then he has had two pretty bad starts...they obviously still count but I think he should be judged on his performance before Girardi made him sit for ten days.

    If I were to rank those six players, Greinke and Marcum are the only ones I'd consider to be as good as Hughes this season. I don't watch any of them, but 10-1, 3.17 ERA, 1.13 WHIP after 13 starts is a pretty good indication that a pitcher is a lock for the All Star team.

    My point was, WAR is a great GUIDELINE. But things happen in baseball that you can't quantify. When Hughes is pitching to a batter with a 3-1 count and two outs in a 7-1 game, I doubt he's thinking, "I need to lower my WAR, so I'm going to throw a breaking ball. Even if I miss, I'll get the next guy." He HAS to go after that hitter because the situation calls for it and he's put in that situation more than anyone because of his insane run support.

    I love baseball stats, but I don't think its fair to base whether one player is better than another purely based off of one formula. Maybe I'm wrong. I know nothing about this formula but I doubt it can take something like this into consideration...

    Man on second, one out, game is tied in the bottom of the ninth. Hitter grounds out to the second baseman to move the runner over. That guy might have just won his team the game. Does that show up in WAR?

    I don't mean to challenge you too hard Zanic, I'm just very reluctant to use an "ultimate stat" because I don't think advanced baseball statistics have evolved enough to the point that they can be used to say one player is better than another.

  6. Don't apologize, this is great. What I do for these posts is basically a bunch of research, and then present my conclusion(s). Then, then the target audience, like in any research, is supposed to tear it apart and question everything. It makes me look at things differently, or to pick up on thing I completely missed. I've been hoping for somebody to challenge me on this stuff.

    My reasoning behind doing this whole series is to give people a completely different way of evaluating a player. There's still a pretty big majority of people who ignore WHIP completely, let alone looking at K/BB rates. WAR is the best stat to do this with, IMO, because it's as all-encompassing as you can get.

    The only thing it really doesn't cover is situations like you describe, which is quantified in its own statistic as Leverage Index (LI). By comparing all players at situation neutral, it takes out as much bias as possible, to give the best comparison possible (this is something you'd hear in a statistics class). If you added LI, how much are the number of baserunners due to poor defense/positioning and other things outside the pitcher's control? That is the rationale behind this.

    Whether you want to use WAR, winning record, RBI, saves, fielding percentage, or whatever to compare players, a lot of it comes with understanding where the stat comes from, knowing what it measures, and probably most importantly, your own personal trust in the stat. In some of the other posts, I do remember saying I wouldn't go strictly with the WAR ratings (McCann over Olivo comes to mind without re-reading). I'll never say one stat is better than the other, but it all lies with how each person perceives the category.

  7. P.S. The hitting example you provide would create a field day for sabermetricians. Here's an excerpt on studying historical data:

    "a runner on first with no outs gives the batting team an average of .95 runs per inning. When the batter sacrifices his at-bat, it gives the team a runner on second and one out, but the team’s average runs per inning drops to .73 for the inning. A runner on second with two outs further plummets the team’s scoring average to .25 for the inning. However, if the batter hits a single instead of sacrificing, the team’s runs per inning soars to at least 1.57 runs with runners on first and second with no outs."

    Most would say you should always go for the hit because giving up an out drops your percentages too dramatically to be efficient. Now, there are independent researcher delving into historical data even further to see whether this is true or not (taking into account whether it's better if a .250 hitter should try to move the guy over, as opposed to a .280, etc...) . Yet another great discussion point.

    Besides, you're winning all these arguments if only for the sole reason that you're doing all this from a cruise ship.

  8. Greg, I think Mike was looking at more than just WAR. That was his main selling point but he also pointed to K/BB ratios, WHIP and ERA. I'm sure that all of the pitchers Zanic mentioned had some outings they'd like to take back just like Hughes. I think your fantasy allegiances are coming into play here.

  9. Wow. I just typed for 30 minutes and it didn't take. I hate blogger.

  10. I thought I was the only person that happened to. When you come back, we'll go out and discuss all this over some frosty beverages. My treat.

  11. Yes Mike, a discussion is in order but I'm gonna try to wrap up my thoughts one more time.

    I completely forgot that you mentioned not to always go strictly from the WAR ratings. At times during this series I felt that you wanted MLB to go down the list of WAR leaders and that's the only criteria needed to select the All Star team. I liked this series though because it gave me a new perspective on guys like Andres Torres that can be extremely (and unexpectedly) valuable to a team.

    You made a great point in one of your last comments. A stat is only as good as the user's knowledge of what it measures and the trust you have in it. Since the first time I heard about WAR, I had this perception that its supposed to be an ultimate stat, one formula that can tell which player is better. That idea drives me crazy because their are just too many variables. I will make it a point to learn more about WAR, Zanic. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday.

    BTW I'm in Philly until tomorrow. Once I get on the boat it costs about $1.50 per page visited so I'm getting all my internet time in now.

    Rickel - You're calling me biased?!?! Come on! Sidney Crosby is the greatest player in the NHL and if you think the caveman is better, you have a smaller brain. I'm not biased at all...

  12. I was talking about your love for Phil Hughes, not Sidney Crosby. I agree that Crosby is the best player in the NHL.

  13. I was giving another example of how I'm pretty biased as a sports fan. But yes, Phil Hughes is a stud. Mmm...20th round.