Comparing the Phillies’ and Giants’ Rotations

On Twitter, @TheBaseballChik asks:

Better 4-man rotation, Giants or Phillies?

Let’s take a look using SIERA over the last three years. Click on the charts to view a much larger version.

What you should be noticing is a lot of red leaning towards the left side of the graph. If not for Tim Lincecum, the Phillies would currently own the four-best starting pitchers in each of the 2008, ’09, and ’10 seasons among the eight pitchers in question. (Note that Madison Bumgarner was a rookie last year, but even still, he was the seventh best out of eight.)

Of the big four, the only significant regression we can expect out of the Phillies’ four pitchers would be from Roy Oswalt. Near the end of December, I analyzed the starters and concluded:

Oswalt, on the other hand, did have a bit of a lucky 2010 season. His 2.76 ERA was separated from his 3.33 SIERA because of a .261 BABIP and a 78 percent strand rate. Over his career (spanning over 2,000 innings), however, he has shown some legitimate ability to strand runners as his career average lies at 76 percent. Halladay, by comparison, has a 73 percent strand rate — much closer to the league average which tends to reside in the 70-72 percent range.

Since we’re using mostly-luck-neutral statistics, though, Oswalt still grades out well among the eight pitchers in question.

On the Giants’ end of things, there is no question that Tim Lincecum is one of the top-two starters along with Roy Halladay. However, Matt Cain may be one of the most overrated pitchers in baseball (though you can’t fault him for pitching to the strengths of his home ballpark**) and Jonathan Sanchez‘s enormously high walk rate sabotages the benefits of his high strikeout rate. Consider that both Sanchez and Cole Hamels had a K/9 above 9.0 in 2010 (Sanchez 9.5, Hamels 9.1) but Hamels walked nearly half as many batters (Sanchez 4.5 BB/9, Hamels 2.6). Bumgarner has promise but will need to bolster his K/9 well into the 7.0 territory and keep his BB/9 in the low 2’s.

** (Joe Posnanski-esque aside) Many have been insistent on docking players like Matt Holliday and Carlos Gonzalez points in MVP award voting for having divergent home/road splits. Why don’t we do the same for pitchers? Matt Cain is widely regarded as among the best in the game, but he’s a fly ball pitcher (45 percent career average) in a very spacious ballpark (home run park factor of 82 per StatCorner.com). Cain has a career home ERA of 3.19 with a 4.47 xFIP and a career road ERA of 3.76 with a 4.39 xFIP. AT&T Park has been very good to Cain.

For what it’s worth, Matthew Pouliot ranked all 30 Major League teams’ starting rotations and the Phillies’ came out on top by an overwhelming margin.

The question that @TheBaseballChik posed is interesting, especially when we’re all dying for some baseball, but there is really no debate.

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88 comments

  1. awh

    January 27, 2011 11:12 PM

    Roger, while September was certainly a stellar month for the Giants staff, and they deserve credit for their postseason performance, I’m really not sure you can use the last month of a previous season as being indicative of a trend. Seems rather suspect to me.

    Why isn’t the most recent month an anomaly as opposed to a trend?

  2. awh

    January 27, 2011 11:16 PM

    TGWTWS, you’re serious? Really?

  3. Bill Baer

    January 27, 2011 11:18 PM

    Reposting my tweet:

    When the Phillies won the World Series, they obviously had the best offense, pitching, defense, base running, managing, and bullpen catcher.

    roflskates

  4. awh

    January 27, 2011 11:20 PM

    Bill, LOL!

  5. sean

    January 27, 2011 11:22 PM

    and what does “best era in a month” even mean let alone have to do with being the best! larger sample please.

    @awh for timmy i have no clue, his true talent is obviously not august nor is it september.

  6. Max

    January 28, 2011 12:19 AM

    Thanks, TGWTWS, you just made my day. At 12:15 in the morning. I really hope you’re a FanSince09 invention. You would make a great sarcastic recurring commenter here at Crashburn Alley.

  7. Roger

    January 28, 2011 12:26 AM

    I knew that Phillies fans wouldn’t like my views but at this point of the season it is all either rationalized partisanship (being a fan and looking through that filter) or WAG’s really. I just find it interesting that people what to scrap the history of the last two months of MLB last year as some sort of pattern and a viable basis in which to “predict” what will happen in the next year. Yes the Phillies had much better hitting thru the 2010 season … and yes the Giants great young staff did show a gapping hole in the Phillies hitting good left handed relief which the Giants have a strength in followed by the most consistent closer in the last three years and the best closer in the NL in 2010. Yes Lincecum and Cain and Sanchez and Bumgarner did pitch more innings last year but look at the quality of their starts from September thru the World Series … they excelled and beat three better hitting clubs because of the quality of their pitching. Youth can be a good thing and if you look at how each of these young Giants pitchers are in a pattern of improvement why can’t that be an important and viable portion of “projecting” the next years performance? I do also have to laugh at those who what to insist that somehow the Giants MLB best in OBA and strike outs along with the least earned runs allowed combined is not a good indication of how good a staff is pitching. When you have pitchers either striking out or who are consistently keeping the opposition from getting a hit as dominately as the Giants did last year it shows a lot. The Phillies pitchers also allowed 34 more homeruns in 2010 … and I understand that the Phillies is a hitting ballpark and the Giants is the opposite but the Giants use their park to their advantage just like the Phillies do theirs … Utley would not be the power hitter in SF like he is in Phillie and both clubs use their park to their advantage as best as they can … its smart baseball.

    You know they say about opinions … the are just like … well … you know where I am going with this :)
    Yeah Phillie fans can get hyped at the media spin on their big four … thats fine and to be expected … but Giant fans have lots of reasons to be looking forward to 2011. In reality we know so very little of what will happen … each team has 25 guys with a wide range of posibilities of how the year will go … which runs into a 40 man roster of possibilities that will impact the upcoming season.

    Who knows what will happen? Of course Philly fans want to plot it all out to give themselves some bragging rights for a season that hasn’t even begun on statistics and projections they choose to lay out for everyone … but one thing for sure … they do not take the most recent history we have to look at … last years playoffs or the best staff in baseball in Septmeber and October of 2010 very seriously at all. Instead of saying “we MAY have the best starting pitching in baseball” they want to impose their bias by stating that somehow by adding a pitcher the Giants beat twice in the World Series has made them a better staff than than the team that beat them in the NLCS in six games and as a pitching staff were out pitched in 162 games by the MLB’s top pitching staff while the Phillies were the sixth best in MLB. Lee is over hyped and that is fine. He is 7-4 with a decent 3.36 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP but there is no real extended history for predicting his success in the NL. The Giants and their meager hitting handled him just fine in the last two big games Lee pitched and I happen to like that pattern! A 0-2 record and a ERA of 6.94 … giving up 9 runs in 11.2 against the Giants in the biggest games of the year simply makes me smile right now just to think of it after reading and seeing and hearing the east coast spin and the Phillie fans spin on Lee eating up the Giants. Our most recient history tells me all the hype now is just like all the hype back in October.

  8. Roger

    January 28, 2011 01:16 AM

    HK … basing a teams pitching strength on the complete staff which includes the bullpen and closer makes a lot of sense … of course not if you are a Philly fan but to the rest of the world it makes plenty of sense.

    Much of a teams pitching strength IS how they as a total staff pitch 9 innings of baseball or the amount of innings it takes to complete a game.
    The Giants bullpen and closer WAY out classes the Phillies non-starting pitching staff. We saw that in the deciding game six in Philly when Sanchez couldn’t keep his adrenaline in control and only pitched two innings. We also saw what having a dependable stellar closer means too … Wilson will give up a walk or two and at times I think it is simply to add drama … but he is head and shoulders above The Giants bullpen came in and shut the big Lidge as a closer. The whole Phillie lineup had no luck against Lopez and Affeldt. The gapping hole in hitting left handed relief by the Phillies was strikingly obvious in October and the Giant bullpen shut Phillie bats down! Zero runs in eight innings of relief pitching in the deciding game of the NLCS in their house was a statement … well for all those who where outside of the Phillie die hards anyway. That is an indication of how GOOD the Giants pen performed last year and especially in the last two months of play which is a rational and valid indicator of pitching going into the 2011 season … whether Phillie fans want to admit it or not.
    Also taking the age of the Giants staff as a positive while using their history and pattern of improvement in each progressive year is also a valid projection tool whether you want to generalize with overall stats or not … when you use these specific talents and their progression it is a rational thought process to see them continuing with their improvement and project further improvement. Of course you want to disagree … it is a positive point in reference to a staff you are not fans of … so go ahead and discount it! I will continue to see age as a more viable possible detriment for the Phillies staff and say that there are just as good of odds that the aging Phillie staff might lose some velocity or control in their closing years rather than the younger Giants staff having that problem :)
    All the rationalizing in the world means nothing in the end … it is what they do on the field that counts … thats why they play the game! Last year the Giants were given little to no chance by the same people posting that the Phillie have to be “the favorites” based on the same east coast spin that gave no chance to last years Champions. You were wrong last year … your stats and spin held no water … so why on earth would you think what the so called “experts” say means anything really? I’ll take last years best pitching staff and be optimisitc as can be and I will look at our youth and pattern of improvement to continue to get better as a good possibility. The game is played on the field and its the combination of the tangible and the intangibles that make the game interesting. The Giants have an advantage of a confidence and chemistry that Phillie fans are familar with when their team were World Series Champions … so who knows how that will affect this Giant team? I say it very well could be a very positve affect!
    Go Giants!!!

  9. awh

    January 28, 2011 01:18 AM

    “I just find it interesting that people what to scrap the history of the last two months of MLB last year as some sort of pattern and a viable basis in which to “predict” what will happen in the next year.”

    Roger, if you can make reasonable and defensible arguments then it doesn’t really matter whether we “like your views”.

    I simply pointed out that it’s extremely difficult to call one or two months’ performance a future trend.

    No one is saying you “can’t” use two months as a predictor – go ahead.

    What I am saying is that statistically you may have the same probability of being wrong as you do of being right.

    Let me ask you this: Why is the last month of the season (September) any better a predictor of the future performance of a pitching staff than August? For that matter, why is it a better predictor than April? (Please answer directly.)

    There are so many questions that would need to be answered. For instance: what was the level of competition? Where did they play – AT&T or a hitter’s park? Were most of the games in NL West parks where LAD, SDP and SFG have ballparks built for pitchers?

    So, simply trying to use one or two months of ERA as an indicator has it’s problems.

    Besides, you seem to contradict yourself. You say “Yes the Phillies had much better hitting thru the 2010 season”. But then, shouldn’t you be better able to predict a trend from a full season of hitting? And if so, then why didn’t that trend continue and the Phillies beat the Giants?

    And are you seriously using two games that Lee pitched as some kind of indicator of the future?

    Do you know what constitutes a statistically significant sample size? Do you know why Bill used SIERA in his analysis as opposed to the basic ERA number that you put so much stock in?

    But as I’m sure you know, the Phillies DID OUTSCORE the Giants in the NLCS. So why did the Giants win? Well, for one, Cody Ross got hot, and played perhaps the best baseball of his career(good for him – he stepped up). But statistically – if your using RUNS SCORED to measure performance – the Phillies pitchers OUTPITCHED the Giants. The Giants won because in a short series anything can happen. Just ask the 1960 Yankees (Do you even know what happened then?).

    Lastly, because it’s late, I’m tired, and I don’t really think you “get it”, I’ll put forth one more thought:

    You obviously are a latecommer here, and are misconstruing what Bill’s thread is all about. It’s not about “some bragging rights for a season that hasn’t even begun”. It’s an academic exercize to compare two rotations.

  10. awh

    January 28, 2011 01:25 AM

    Roger, nbefore I hit the sack, here’s an example of why it’s difficult to view one month as a trend:

    In 2010, Cole Hamels pitched 5 times in April. at teh end of those 5 starts his ERa was 5.28. By your logic, that trend could (and should) be used to predict how the rest of his season would go, no?

    Well, Cole started 28 more games through the end of September. His ERA was 2.68 for those last 28 games.

    Do you really think one month is a trend?

  11. Css228

    January 28, 2011 02:31 AM

    I think after that brilliant pair of posts by AWH we just ought to call this a thread and move on to Bill’s next posting when it comes along. Well done sir.

  12. hk

    January 28, 2011 07:58 AM

    Roger: HK … basing a teams pitching strength on the complete staff which includes the bullpen and closer makes a lot of sense … of course not if you are a Philly fan but to the rest of the world it makes plenty of sense.

    No, the rest of the rational world would say that using 2010 team statistics are anywhere from minimally to totally irrelevant in predicting 2011 depending upon how significantly teams have changed in the off-season. Leaving our favorite teams out of the equation and looking at the NL Central, I ask…do you expect the Milwaukee Brewers to have the 5th best pitching staff in the division? They did last year, but that was before they acquired Marcum and Greinke.

  13. sean

    January 28, 2011 11:32 AM

    plus before those 2 playoff games cliff lee had pitched against the giants twice and had a line of 1.06 era 2-0 in 17 innings 1 CG 17:3 k:BB ratio. roger i still don’t know why you insist on using OBA as the stat you want to base your arguments on, ignoring walks yet crediting strikeouts.

    www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2010-is-not-a-constant-either-2/

  14. FanSince09

    January 28, 2011 03:11 PM

    With no Hammels and JA Happ, Phillies are a better rotation.

    With Hammels and no JA Happ, Giants are a better rotation.

  15. PTN

    January 28, 2011 07:44 PM

    I know this is unrelated to the current topic, but I would be interested in seeing a piece dealing with the lineup’s imbalance and just how far it will affect the team’s offensive output.

  16. Scott G

    January 29, 2011 02:13 AM

    Bill,

    I wasn’t serious about being creeped out. It was just kind of weird how you threw it in there.

  17. Scott G

    January 29, 2011 02:25 AM

    I can’t even comprehend how this is a serious conversation right now. No one can honestly believe that on the whole, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Henry Rowengartner are better than Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt.

    The Giants may have the best of the 8 (even that is questionable), but I don’t think there is any question that the Phillies have the 2nd-5th best of the 8.

  18. PTN

    January 29, 2011 01:45 PM

    Richard,

    I haven’t checked fangraphs in a while. Thanks for pointing those articles out.

  19. awh

    January 29, 2011 03:04 PM

    ScottG, that’s an excellent point.

    Perhaps it should be viewed this way:

    Who would MLB GMs pick? Or, rather, in what order would they pick them?

    Even given Lincecum at #1, I suspect if all 30 GMs were polled, the order would look like this:

    Lincecum
    Halladay
    Lee
    Hamels
    Oswalt
    Cain
    Sanchez
    Baumgardner

  20. Scott G

    January 29, 2011 04:50 PM

    AWH,

    I’m definitely not normally one to just go on instincts and observations, but I feel like this is so obvious.

    Salary being equal, I can’t imagine there is any intelligent baseball fan/GM out there that wouldn’t rather have Lee, Oswalt, and Hamels over any of Cain, Sanchez or Baumgarner. Halladay is a given (I hope).

  21. Roger

    January 31, 2011 04:35 AM

    HK … “No, the rest of the rational world would say that using 2010 team statistics are anywhere from minimally to totally irrelevant in predicting 2011 depending upon how significantly teams have changed in the off-season.”

    Interesting comment but I certainly would question you speaking for the “rational world” especially coming from someone wrapped up into being a Phillies fan and telling me last years team pitching stats mean nothing in predicting the next years pitching.
    Sure teams trade and sign players and try and improve … and I understand why the Phillies went out and bought another ace … because they were out pitched in the NLCS by the Giants.

    They were out pitched by starting pitchers of the Giants and the Giants bullpen out pitched the Phillies bullpen and the Giants closer was better than the Phillies closer. That should account for something in predicting the following season shouldn’t it? I say yes … but obviously some don’t. The Giants still have that bullpen and they still have that closer. Why wouldn’t that affect the projection of teams strengths and rating the for the next season?

    The Giants young staff has pitched better in each consecutive year and are continuing to improve … a pattern.
    They also had the best September than any staff has pitched in the last 45 years in the NL. That should account to something in predicting next season … as should their great pitching in October and November.

    As far as GMs and who they would want … I am laughing at the arrogance of Phillie fans and am just fine with out staff in SF. Adding Cliff Lee who the Giants ripped apart in game one and beat handily in game five (both games Lincecum out pitched Lee)… adding Lee is certainly not the equalizer he is being made out to be.

    Time will tell but don’t get too lost in those stats and projections … last year they told you Phillie was going to whoop the Giants and look what happened. East coast bias is real and rampid! That is why the play the game!

    Oh … and why should a month or two in statistics be a valid indicator?
    The goal in every sports team is to play good solid ball and get better each month and to peak at the end of the season so you are playing your best ball when it counts most.
    The Giants did that … they played their best games the last two months of the 2010 season and ended up winning the World Series because they pitched the best and played good solid defense and they hit in the clutch better than the teams they played … which included the Phillies staff. The big addition to the Phillies staff is a guy the Giants beat twice in the World Series … the last two big starts in Lee’s career … and is that somehow factored in on all these visions of grandure by the statistics they bear out to Phillies fans?
    Two things … I agree with the premise of Phillie going out and finding better starting pitching … they did so because they were out pitched by the Giants. I just question that adding a guy the Giants hammered big time in the last two big starts is somehow an equalizer.
    AWH … the excellent pitching in September and October and November of 2010 is the last indicating months of MLB play. Peaking in those months are what its all about. I can and do use those numbers to predict an outcome and can do no worse than all those in the east who bought that the Giants had no chance in the 2010 NLCS.
    You were wrong then and I say you are now in your projections.
    The stats aren’t everything and they play the game to see who is best and its the human element … tangable and intandables … the dynamic of team chemistry and blend of players and the ability of the leaders to lead and the ability of players to focus to hit in the clutch are all factors in the end to how a team does.
    If we look at the last two years can we say there is a trend that shows the Phillies don’t win the big ones anymore?
    The last two years show that statement is true. The Yankees beat them in 2009 and the Giants did in 2010. Is their ability to choke in the clutch factored in your statistics in predicting 2011?
    Were your predictions for 2010 accuarate?
    :)

    So much for eastern bias BS spin :)

  22. Gaël

    January 31, 2011 04:56 AM

    Roger, people might be more interested in arguing with you if you didn’t keep harping on the fact that “the Giants beat Cliff Lee” in his last two World Series starts as if it meant anything. Ever heard of the phrase “small sample sizes”? Those two games only mean that the Giants won the World Series (which is a great feat in and of itself, and no one’s saying you shouldn’t be proud of that), not that Cliff Lee will lose to the Giants every time he faces them.

    (speaking of small sample sizes: Lincecum gave up four runs over 5 1/3 innings during game one of the World Series, surely it means he isn’t that great, right? See how that doesn’t work?)

  23. Brad

    January 31, 2011 06:42 AM

    Besides the weak baseball arguments, the complete destruction of the English language is giving me a headache. Someone please define for me “rampid” and “intandables”.

    Roger, seriously, good luck to you basing your 2011 projections on October 2010. If we would have done the same going into the 2009 season, we would have said that Cole Hamels would be unhittable (he wasn’t) and Joe Blanton would end the season with about 25 homeruns. Believe it or not, he didn’t.

    Since you seem to have a very short memory, let’s discuss how the Giants might not have even been playing against the Phillies but for Brooks Conrad.

  24. hk

    January 31, 2011 01:36 PM

    Roger,

    Time does not permit to respond to all of your points, but I will respond to the following two:

    You stated, “They were out pitched by starting pitchers of the Giants and the Giants bullpen out pitched the Phillies bullpen and the Giants closer was better than the Phillies closer.”

    I ask, if all of that is true, how did the Phillies outscore the Giants in the series?

    You stated, “Time will tell but don’t get too lost in those stats and projections … last year they told you Phillie was going to whoop the Giants and look what happened.”

    My response is that I never thought the Phillies would whoop (whatever that means) the Giants. I did think that the Phillies were the better team; however, I learned a long time ago that the best team does not always win a baseball series or even win three straight including the World Series. This lesson was reiterated as recently as 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series despite not being the best team in baseball that year.

  25. Css228

    January 31, 2011 02:10 PM

    @Roger, the answer to your question why a month or two isn’t a valid sample size for predicting the future is really simple. Its called mathematics. They’ve proven when a players true potential can be valued by the amount of observations seen. Therefore, if you only look at the playoffs you have nowhere near enough data to make conclusions about anything, as a player probably wont even get 100 plate appearances in that time and definitely wont make more than 6-7 starts. Nowhere near enough data = nowhere near reliable. Its a simple statistical principle that i suggest you acquaint yourself with. If you’d really like to argue your point strongly bring trends that have held true for at least a reliable period of observation. If you can’t put up then shut up

  26. awh

    January 31, 2011 04:34 PM

    “Besides the weak baseball arguments, the complete destruction of the English language is giving me a headache. Someone please define for me “rampid” and “intandables”.

    Brad, roger is obviously a product of that excellent California school system.

  27. Css228

    January 31, 2011 09:03 PM

    Also someone here needs to debunk the myth that a guy can be good or bad against any one team. I mean even if a guy goes 9-0 against the Giants with a 2.31 ERA that doesn’t mean he has the Giants number, it just means that he played a good 9 games against them. There arent enough starts there to make any conclusions. Furthermore, chances are he wasn’t even facing the same lineup all of those times. So to say the Giants own Lee, when he a year earlier wasted them in their park means nothing. He’s had some great games against them and he’s sucked in others. I don’t know what else you can say but that. I mean Roger if you want to predict from that 2 game sample, I’ll take Cliff Lee’s averages over the past 3 years and project from those. I’ll even give you 4-1 odds that your projections are closer than mine. Because I guarantee if you think those 2 games in the WS were typical Lee starts then youre crazy

  28. Roger

    February 01, 2011 04:30 AM

    I certainly understand that 2010 shouldn’t be the only data weighed to “project” a winner for the upcoming year. Nor should the last two or three months of 2010 be a sole point of projection yet I just question that when it comes to Phillie fans they give that little to no weight at all in their biased projections.
    The Giants did out pitch the Phillies.
    Their series ERA’s were identical yet the Giants won two more games in the series that needed only six games to decide who was best.
    Lincecum out pitched Halladay in both games. Without a Huff error Lincecum very well could have been 2-0 in the NLCS series just like Tim did when matched up opposite Lee in the WS.
    Oswalt was the Phillies most effective pitcher against the Giants and he was matched up against Matt Cain who pitched stellar with a 0.0 ERA and 1-0 against the Phillies and then Matt exceeded that performance against the Rangers.
    Hamels edged Sanchez in performance and Bumgarner out pitched Blanton. The Giants bullpen did do a better job as did their closer.

    As far as Lee is concerned he really has very little data for pitching in the NL. He was 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA and a decent 1.13 WHIP and OBA of .261 giving up one HR/9 innings. Those are not amazing numbers but numbers of a decent number 2 or 3 pitcher.
    Lee has had three decent years and the rest pretty mediocre. Yes he has been effective in the post season before 2010 but his last postseason were not stellar performances and he took two loses with almost a 7 ERA for the series. Lee gave up 6 runs before he ran to the bench in the fifth in his first game and gave up three runs in the second game.
    I think Lee is a decent pitcher. He is a lifetime 3.85 ERA a decent win percentage of .626% and a 1.256 WHIP OBA of .260 and a 1 HR/9 and 6.6 SO/9 Those are decent numbers but certainly not breathtaking numbers and numbers that Sanchez or Bumgarner are certainly capable of exceeding in 2011.

  29. Roger

    February 01, 2011 05:15 AM

    Awh – Yes I screwed up spelling a few words (as if you are above it) … I had trouble sleeping so I wrote a reply without proof reading it so sue me.

    When commenting on other peoples writing or responses and you are critical to a personal level it usually is a sign of immaturity and low esteem issues. I have not written any personal cuts or insults to anyone on this board and think it is a bit classless for you to do so without provocation. Does it make you feel better to be ripping someone else personally that you do not know? Rather shallow don’t you think?

    Your WAG of what the majority of who GM’s would pick is simply more east coast bias BS spin and subjective guess work on your part.
    The ages of these two staffs would be looked at a lot more than you give the GM’s credit for. The Giants average starters age of a little over 25 years old compared to the Phillies 32 is quite a difference and would influence more GM’s than the east coast media are willing to admit to. After seeing the way Lincecum(26), Cain(26) and Bumgarner(21) pitched there are plenty of GM’s that would jump all over picking those three at between six and twelve years younger. They have lots of years left compared to relatively few on Halladay(33), Lee(32) and Oswalt(33).

  30. Richard

    February 01, 2011 07:04 AM

    Roger – the ages of the pitchers are only relevant if we’re talking long-term. We’re not.

    As for the post-season, not only is it small-sample size, as you seem reluctant to acknowledge, but as such luck (in the technical sense, as well as not) plays a big role. For example, Lincecum didn’t pitch any better than Halladay in the LCS. He was getting hit rather hard in game one, but the balls were hit at fielders. (No complaints, that’s just the way it goes.) And in the World Series, he had one great game and one iffy game. He was just lucky that his iffy game came when Lee had his one bad game. Lee’s other game was dominant but for one pitch to Renteria.

    Your repeated accusation of bias is not helping your case any either. You have been presented with all kinds of statistical evidence, which you refuse to engage with. Frankly, all kinds of baseball fans, whether Phillies fans or east coast fans or not, have been talking about the Phillies rotation for the upcoming season as being one for the ages, but it’s only Giants fans who feel the need to piss all over it. That is bias.

    (Meanwhile, please note that no one is trying to take anything away from the Giants’ WS win. But you’re being ungracious.)

  31. hk

    February 01, 2011 07:13 AM

    Roger,

    Finally something on which we agree…personal attacks are not necessary and we welcome fans of the opposition. However, you are responding to a blog in which the question was asked which team will have the better rotation 4-man next year, so to base your argument on stats produced by other pitchers or on a small sample size like the post-season is not a case of East Coast bias, it is a case of you not providing much of a case. Also, as I’ve pointed out before, age will quite possibly be to the SF pitchers’ detriment this coming season as young pitchers throwing more innings than they have ever thrown before and having one less month to rest and recover have generally struggled the following season. If you are talking about 2013 and beyond – assuming that the Giants can afford to keep their rotation intact and the Phillies fail to retain Oswalt, you might be right that age works in the Giants favor. However, for 2011, none of the Phillies 4 has shown to be in a decline phase of their career and none has yet reached an age where pitchers begin to decline noticably.

    While you call out others as immature or having low self esteem for using personal attacks, don’t you think this whole East Coast bias thing is borne of immaturity and low self esteem? We are all fans of particular teams and when you come on a Phillies blog, you’ll most likely encounter Phillies fans (i.e. East Coasters). That’s not to say that your view is not welcome here. To the contrary, this is one website that oft-times seeks input from writers from the other cities to hear what they think of their team and ours and also welcomes comments from fans of other teams. However, their arguments will only be taken seriously if they are backed up by legitimate statistics (sabermetric and otherwise) and claims. While you ponder the East Coast bias thing, find Buster Olney’s December poll of 16 talent evaluators on the question of which team’s rotation was the best in MLB. All 16 picked the Phillies first with 14 of 16 picking the Giants second. Or, since Olney works for ESPN and he’s from Vermont, do we assume he only sought out East Coast biased talent evaluators?

  32. Roger

    February 01, 2011 04:21 PM

    HK … The east coast bias thing is real and if those who buy into it want to somehow discredit me for pointing out how obvious it is that is fine. You who are claiming it doesn’t exist are clearly living in the east because if you were from the central to west you would see it in your everyday media coverage.We saw and read and heard the spin last year that was just pitiful all throughout the playoffs last year (and every year for that matter.)
    Olney is a big time Dodger fan who for quite a while was a Philadelphia sports writer who as you presented is from the east. He is a part of the eastern media. It is fine with me that he picks the Phillies as the top staff. He certainly didn’t pick the Giants to win it all last year just like the rest of those all wrapped up into Fox Sports and ESPN eastern bias. The media and the fans in the east gave no chance to the Giants and were blind to the way the Giants had been playing from September on. It is there whether those in the east want to admit to it or not. The so called experts in the east have failed in the predictions plenty … last season was a fine example of that.

    I really am surprised that you can’t see the lack of west coast coverage in your media. I understand that western and central time zones make it late night news. They pretty much speed through any coverage outside of the teams on the east. I’ve spent plenty of time in the east and got little to no news other than a box of what the Giants were doing.
    The top seven team payrolls were all east coast teams last year and somehow you think those organizations media people aren’t spending big money marketing to your local and national news and radio coverage? Seeing the bias in the east coast based media is certainly not immature HK. I guess it is simply less obvious to those who live by it and those seeing thru the fan filter that they choose to see thru. Yes I am seeing thru my filter yet not acknowledging the existence of a east coast bias is laughable to those who saw all those east coast sportscasters and so call experts completely dis the Giants the entire post season and be so wrong. All their numbers and spin was BS when it came down to what happened on the field. So instead of admitting it was faulty and they were wrong they simply claim it was luck and that is not ungracious? :)
    I happen to be someone who gave credit to the Phillies for being there the last several years and knew they would be tough to beat last year but the Giants were up to the task. In 2008 the Phillies played great and earned the World Series championship and I gave them credit for that and not once did I try to make it about them being “lucky” as I continually get from Phillie fans now. I was in fact rooting for them to beat the Yankees in 2009.
    Most of the people in the east didn’t see the Giants gel as a team and build their team chemistry that lead to their clutch hitting and ability to win close ball games. You can call it “luck” if you want and we can agree to disagree about that. We all have our views and if you want to insist that the better team lost that is fine with me … I will laugh and simply see it as exactly what you accuse me of … immaturity and due to your zest for the team you root for and lack in the ability to accept defeat with grace.

    I did list some stats that were discounted based on subjective views on what statistics are meaningful. Having a starting staff that have a substantially better lifetime OBA statistic along with K/9 innings and who have improved in each of the last three seasons is something Phillie fans either discount or try to make a neglible statistic which is funny to me. They are not statistics that show a Phillie staff superiority so they are thrown out as if they don’t exist or called flawed indicators of a good staff. Projecting the best rotation is certainly subjective and of course I don’t expect Phillie fans to admit that the Giants could very well end up with the best pitching staff in 2011. Saying the Giants youth could be a detriment is as logical as my saying that the Phillies age will be there downfall … they are both subjective opinions.

    Like I wrote last night … I never intended that the Giants excellent September, October and November to be the only factor in projecting the best rotation but is it a factor at all in Phillie fan projections?

    I think not.

    Is that flawed?

    Well I think it may be a little bit but I’m not worried about it.

    If Olney asked those same GM’s who the best total team pitching staff which included the bullpen and closer I think the Giants would have been favored by the majority of those GM’s.
    The Giants Lincecum and Cain are in my opinion as good as the Halladay and Lee pair. Lincecum’s lifetime stats are better than Halladays. I think Sanchez is every bit as good as Hamels and Oswalt does edge the youthful Bumgarner. Like it or not Zito is a better number five starter than Blanton statistically even though he is way overpaid. The two staffs look pretty even to me but if Phillie fans want to claim some moral victory in January before they throw a pitch … fine. I happen to think the Giants youth will be an asset this year and that they will continue to improve as they have the last three years.

    Css … so you are saying you will cover my bet of whatever I choose that the Phillie’s starters will out pitch the Giants this year at the odds of four to one? I might take you up on that :) How much are you willing to lose?

    Also Css … there are plenty of examples that show there is no mathematical formula to calculate how well a player will perform from year to year and be accurate. Averaging and statistics are blown out in many days of baseball and they are just clues to what may happen. They play the game and great players slump and good teams get beat by lesser teams. Yes you can average the numbers and say it is a reasonable projection but in the end the variables to an athletes performance year to year is way beyond your statistical averaging. You can’t calculate a players focus or ability to come thru in the clutch. You can try but it is a WAG at best! You can average a players performance and way over extend or under appreciate a players season in the end.
    An example of that would be Jimmy Rollins. He is a career .270 hitter but the last two years he has slumped to a .250 & .243 average. So statistically what do you project for Jimmy … to continue to slump as his last two years show or do you write it off to his age and that he was injury plagued or will he use HGH or some other non-tested PED to pull him up a notch him and its all better now and will he hit .270 at 20 something HRs?
    The fact is no one knows how well Rollins will perform and the statistics may give you something to guess with but in the end it is a WAG.
    The same goes for projecting the effectiveness of starting pitching.
    If Phillie fans want to somehow claim superiority before a pitch is thrown … then so be it. All the statistics you can come up with will most likely be shown to be of little accuracy just as they did last year. The east said the Phillies had better pitching and they didn’t. The so called experts and all their stats said the Phillies would roll thru the Giants without a problem and that didn’t happen either! Things like Lincecum changing his workout regiment and then amping it back up or Bumgarner getting married and personal tragedy in his family affecting his conditioning or Sandoval having marriage problems during the regualar season and then going thru a divorce and his mother almost being blown up in a gas explosion are things that your statistics don’t capture and those are the things that make big impacts on how a player performs. The flow of life screws the mathamatics up daily in life. We can agree to disagree and that is fine … but to claim superiority in winter is comical. I look forward to seeing the Phillies again for the NLCS in 2011 and hopefully both teams will stay healthy enough to do so!

  33. k9_2458

    February 02, 2011 01:24 PM

    As a lifelong fan of the G-men, it bothers me none to acknowledge that the Phillies rotation is a historic one. But, the arguments against Cain are SILLY! Check out paapfly.com‘s response Bill, and let us know what you think. Two of the last four years (2007 & 2009) Cain has a higher HR/FB rate at HOME then he does away, and the other two years the difference in both years is .4% (2008 & 2010). His ability to keep balls in the park is significant enough to be appreciated, rather than always be attributed to luck from park factor.

    Again, I completely agree that Halladay is right up there with Lincecum, King Felix, CC & whoever you want to put in there for the top 5 pitchers in baseball. Also, that Lee, Oswalt and Hamels are STUDS. I personally think that the Phils rotation IS the best in baseball. The fact that the Giants is close behind them, IS NOT just a result of “luck” and “park factor” (for which the author conveniently ONLY used the factor for LHB HR rate) Baseball-Reference’s three year “Park Factor” actually grades AT&T park at a 101 which happens to be the same as Citizens Bank Ballpark!

  34. Bill Baer

    February 04, 2011 04:22 PM

    I saw paap’s article. It prompted me to do some of my own research which will be published at Baseball Prospectus some time next week. I’ll link to it when it’s posted.

  35. Different Roger

    October 13, 2011 06:39 PM

    Can someone explain to me why a larger ballpark would result in a LOWER babip? That seems completely counter-intuitive to me. Fewer home runs, sure, but I would think the extra ground to cover would result in more hits, and thus a higher BABIP on average.

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