That Mighty Fine Starting Rotation
Yesterday was quite an important day in the United States. Many got together with friends and family, cooked food, downed a bunch of beers, and enjoyed each other’s company on a most joyous occasion. Not the Super Bowl — it was Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday!
Kidding aside, if you were busy yesterday with that game of hand-egg, you missed ESPN’s incredibly poor decision in handing me the reins to the SweetSpot blog for an entire day. In Rob Neyer’s stead, they called upon us bloggers to fill in while they search for a new queen- or kingpin. In my first article, I looked at how historically great the 2011 Phillies starting rotation could be. Using WAR, I concluded that only two starting rotations included four members compling at least 4 WAR apiece: the 1991 and ’97 Braves. With a little bit of luck and good health, the Phillies could be the third to accomplish the feat since 1960.
I spoke with Dan Szymborski, of ZiPS projection fame, about these awesome front-fours. He wrote about his projections for the current batch of Phillies back in December — he has them slated to post 19.8 WAR. Szymborski notes that that would be the 13th-best among front-fours in the past 41 years and the third-best since 1993 according to his calculations. It would also be more than five WAR better than the Phillies’ next-best rotation, found in ’83. That rotation featured future Hall-of-Famer and four-time Cy Young award winner Steve Carlton, the ’83 Cy Young winner in John Denny, Charles Hudson, and Marty Bystrom.
The 1993 rotation, which included Curt Schilling, Danny Jackson, Tommy Greene, Terry Mulholland, and Ben Rivera (the quintet remarkably made 152 of 162 starts), came in fourth at 12.8 WAR according to Szymborski. I don’t think there’s any doubt that the current amalgamation of starters vastly exceeds the ’93 bunch, but the Phillies would love to mimic that exceptionally clean bill of health such that their front four are able to accrue 200+ innings individually. And looking backwards, the Phillies have one-third of baseball’s top-12 pitchers in 2010.
It’s going to be a fun year. One week left until pitchers and catchers report!