Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pitching, pitching, pitching

Rory Paap (of Giants blog Paapfly) has an article today at The Hardball Times on pitching and championships. Yup, pitching does win championships. Check it out.

Here's a quote:
Returning to our question: Does great pitching win championships? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. History has shown that it’s not only preferred, but very nearly an absolute necessity to have, at the very minimum, a league-average pitching staff. Beyond that, a quality offense helps, but pitching is king.

With this in mind, I think the 2011 version of the Yankees is once again in trouble, the Phillies have one heck of a shot at winning it all, and the Giants absolutely have to be considered a threat to return to the Fall Classic. Those teams that can’t throw a team ERA+ of 100 out there are probably better off packing it in then heading to October.

Taking a look at the team stats for 2010, there were ten NL clubs with an ERA+ over 100. The Giants (121) were on top, followed by the Rockies (112), Braves (110), Phillies (110), Cardinals (110), Padres (108), Mets (105), Cubs (103), Marlins (103), and Reds (100). I think it is interesting that San Diego pitching doesn't rate that high in this metric. I suspect it is mostly because they played in run-suppressing Petco Park. I also think the Rockies will be the chief competition for the Giants in 2011 as they are a better pitching team than their 2010 ERA (4.14) suggested.

In the AL there were nine teams with an ERA+ over 100. The Athletics (116) led the way, followed by the Rangers (110), White Sox (107), Yankees (106), Twins (105), Red Sox (104), Rays (104), Angels (101), and Mariners (100). Paapfly says look out for Oakland in 2011--he may have a point.

Here's a little more from Mr. Paap (emphasis mine):
I also took the liberty of averaging each teams OPS+ and ERA+ to determine how much better than average they were overall. I then averaged all of those numbers, whereby I discovered the average World Series champion has graded out at 108.7, or about eight percent better than league average.

If you take the most recent champion, the San Francisco Giants, and add their OPS+ (95) and ERA+ (121) from 2010 together, you get a grade of 108. This goes to show their World Series title in 2010 shouldn’t be considered lucky or a fluke, rather, they were a perfectly average champion. What’s more, their excellent ERA+ fulfilled the pertinent requirement of at least adequate pitching.
Like I said, you should check it out.

I suppose the upshot is that all the Giants have to do to repeat is be perfectly average! For them, that is, which means pitch like hell and hope the offense is journeyman-esque.



Anonymous said...

Yo! It's me, Frank/Francisco/NJ Dude/etc. I think I'll just post Anonymous again. I think something's wrong with my WordPress account. Anyway, I haven't been posting lately as a result, but I'm still here reading!

So how have you guys been since November? I fell in love, decided that I should major in art (like I should have done in the first place), I may have a job soon, and I've just been happy lately. Also, I like basketball now too (nowhere near as much as baseball though so don't worry too much 'bout that).

Last year was nice. I think we can repeat (as underrated as ever!)

Go Giants!

Anonymous said...

"Pitching wins championships" makes sense. However, pitching wouldn't have done shit without some defense behind it (just look at the Braves in the NLDS). That's how the Padres looked so good for so long last year, it was the defense (that and the uber-pitcher's park, mythical bullpen, dumb luck, etc.) OGC has been saying that forever.

Brother Bob said...

Yo Frank, love and art trump baseball any day of the week. Good to hear from you.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Welcome back, Francisoo. Stick around--you were our lucky charm last year!

Yes, defense is crucial, too. But good pitching makes it easier on the fielders, doesn't it? The Giants led MLB in strikeouts--that's the best defense of all!

Anonymous said...

@Bob: Glad that you're glad!

M.C. pleeease! You're making me blush!

Yes I suppose you're right. They go hand in hand. Though, nothing covers up mediocre pitching like quality defense. When a pitcher's good, I rarely hear anyone say "well PitcherX only played so well because he had the 80s Cardinals team behind him." The best example that I can think of are the Athletics. Their pitching is okay, but it's really their ballpark and defense that resulted in such a low team ERA.

But who cares? We got the Ks and the D!