Don’t Feel Sorry for Caleb Campbell

So, everyone’s talking about Caleb Campbell, a draft pick of the Detroit Lions. Per Yahoo! News per the Associated Press:

Campbell was a seventh-round draft pick for the Lions in April. At the time, Army policy would have allowed the West Point graduate to serve as a recruiter if he made the team.

But a subsequent Department of Defense policy has superseded the 2005 Army policy.

In a letter to Lions president Matt Millen dated Wednesday, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jonathan P. Liba wrote that Campbell has been ordered to give up professional football for “full-time traditional military duties.”

Caleb CampbellThis will probably become a hot topic for the next few days or so and a lot of anti-war people will be crying for him, but just so everyone knows, Campbell deserves not a single ounce of your sympathy for not being able to pursue a professional football career. Why is that? He signed up for military service of his own volition. He was not coerced into anything, and he signed the paperwork.

I’m as anti-war and against this current U.S. government as any liberal, but this isn’t an example of corruption, or war-mongering, or a desperate grab for warm bodies to throw into the Middle East. This shouldn’t even be a story, but it’s topical and somewhat controversial, and — hey, he’s a football player too. So there you have it.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Who’s Unluckier: Hamels or Santana?

Last night, the Phillies outsmarted the Mets and scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning against the New York Mets bullpen, which squandered an eight-inning, two-run performance from Johan Santana.

Phillies fans know what that looks like. Twice this season, the Phillies were shut out despite Cole Hamels pitching at least seven innings and giving up two earned runs or less: April 2 against the Washington Nationals, and July 8 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

That got me to thinking: Who is more unlucky, Cole Hamels or Johan Santana?

There are a few metrics which help to measure how lucky a pitcher is. I rooted through both players’ game logs and counted their losses and no decisions (QSL and QSND) in which they had a quality start (6+ IP, 3 or less ER). I looked at their run support (RS), their Fielding Independent Pitching minus Earned Run Average (FIP-ERA), their current Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP), and their Expected BABIP (XBABIP), which is LD% plus .120.

Then, I logged on to Baseball Prospectus for a look at their luck-oriented statistics. First, I logged their Current Wins and Losses (CW and CL), and then looked up BP’s Expected Wins and Losses (EW and EL). They actually have a blatant luck statistic (LUCK) and they also log Bullpen Support (BPS). I made a table in Excel and here’s what it looks like:

 

Luck

According to BP, both pitchers have been unlucky, but Santana more so, mostly because of a lack of bullpen support. Considering that the Phillies have the best bullpen in the National League, it’s no surprise that Hamels has been aided by them.

The expected wins and losses see Hamels with one more win and another loss if you round up. Santana stays at eight wins but has one less loss.

Santana trails Hamels in quality start no-decisions, but trumps him in quality start losses. Hamels gets more than a half-run more on average and both pitchers’ defenses hurt their ERA about equally. Hamels, though, has a huge disparity between his current BABIP and expected BABIP (.086), while Santana does but it’s not nearly as much (.041).

It seems like it’s all in agreement that Santana is the unluckier pitcher, but it’s a close one. My methodology is very rough since the quality start sets arbitrary criteria like the save rule, but it gives a good idea of where the pitchers stand when it comes to luck.