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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Bill Plaschke, Why? (Because You Know Nothing, That's Why)

On Thursday's edition of Around the Horn, Bill Plaschke made an ass of himself for about the one millionth time. In a discussion about the Phillies rotation and the imminent return of former Dodger Pedro Martinez to the major leagues, Plaschke gave his opinion of why Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Of course, he misused statistics in attempting to do so. He cited Pedro's winning percentage and career wins total. This is such an incredibly stupid line of reasoning that I hesitate to not unleash multiple lines of expletives. Let's quickly go over the reasons why Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and, guess what, you won't find wins or winning percentage anywhere.

*Numbers from Baseball Reference, The Hardball Times, and FanGraphs.*

Pedro Martinez

IP: 2782.2
SO: 3117
ERA+: 154
HR/9 IP: 0.8
SO/9 IP: 10.1
S0/BB: 4.14
WHIP: 1.051
ERA: 2.91
FIP: 2.89

I couldn't find Pedro's career xFIP, but I doubt it would be far off of his career FIP. Even as he's been declining over the last 5 or so years, he posted a 3.99 xFIP in 2004 (217 IP - Age 32), a 3.61 xFIP in 2005 (217 IP - Age 33), and a 3.76 xFIP in 5 games in 2007 (28 IP - Age 35).

Photo via lowposts.com


Not to be outdone, on the same episode of ATH, Woody Paige (whom I actually love listening to because he makes me laugh, could care less whether he uses facts or not, uses props liberally, and isn't a self-righteous douche like Plaschke) cited Jaime Moyer as having had a good, though up-and-down, season because he has 10 wins. Wins are, of course, the absolute worst way to measure a pitcher's ability, success, and productivity. Yes, Moyer has 10 wins. However, let's look at some of Jaime Moyer's other numbers from the 2009 season:

IP: 118.3
xFIP: 5.10
SO: 68
BB: 37
WHIP: 1.47
H/9 IP:10.4
SO/BB: 1.84
HR Allowed: 22
HR/9 IP:1.7

Jaime Moyer has been terribly terrible this season, and while I would send out a 6-man rotation 1-2 times when Pedro returns if I were Charlie Manuel (they have a 7 game lead over two teams and the extra rest would almost certainly be good for the Phillies starters), the first starter I would remove from that rotation is Moyer. J.A. Happ has clearly benefited from a godly amount of luck this year (ERA - 2.74 ---- xFIP - 4.54) , but he still has far more upside than Moyer, and K's more batters than Moyer (K/9 IP: Happ - ~7.0 ; Moyer - 5.2).


I'm not surprised in the least that Plaschke and Paige used horrible stats to back up their arguments. The one thing that still surprises me though is that, when discussing an athlete who plays a team sport, people continue to use things like wins and winning percentage (which are so overwhelmingly based on the performance of the team itself) instead of statistics that actually show how the individual performed. Who cares if Jay Cutler had a losing record with the Broncos last season? If that team had had some semblance of a defense to put alongside Cutler, Cutler's arm, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and the 25 running backs Denver trotted out, they would have not only had a winning record, but made the playoffs ahead of my San Diego Chargers. I just hope we see an end to team stats being used to judge an individual player's performance, skill set, ability, and success.

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