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Felix vs. CC (vs. Price): Head-to-Head Park Factors and Other Miscellany

Well we’re almost in the post-season and we’ve got three very, very good pitchers, one of whom, though, is having a much better season than the other two.

CC Sabathia is getting some acknowledgment because of his wins. Quote Joe Morgan:

I think he’s always been in the race in my mind. I like what Felix Hernandez has done, but he has won only 12 games. People say that he doesn’t get support from his teamamtes, but guess what, every award is a team award. You can’t win the MVP without your teammates. Do we look at an MVP candidate and say his team didn’t give him a chance to drive in runs? The fact is that Felix has won 12 games and CC has won 20. It is harder to win in a championship environment in New York than in Felix’s situation. Just look at AJ Burnett this year. Felix has done a good job this year, but he’s not in the same difficulty level of pitching this year as CC.

Well ok then.

Let’s all take a second to remember how useless wins are as a stat for pitchers.

Good, you back now? Let’s continue.

There’s also this, which was an interesting reveal of ESPN fans’ minds.

The gist of stats is to see how good a player performed as an individual. The post-season awards are for individual awards. If you want a “best player on a good team award,” create it.

Frankly, yeah, 21 wins is a terrible reason to award the CYA. Here are those three pitchers and their respective stats. Guess which ones are which:

Player A: 249.2 innings, 2.27 ERA, 232 Ks, 70 BBs (3.31 K/BB), 3.06 FIP, 3.27 xFIP, 53.9 GB%
Player B: 237.2 innings, 3.18 ERA, 197 Ks, 74 BBs (2.66 K/BB), 3.55 FIP, 3.79 xFIP, 50.7 GB%
Player C: 207.2 innings, 2.73 ERA, 187 Ks, 79 BBs (2.37 K/BB), 3.44 FIP, 4.01 xFIP, 43.9 GB%

All three of them, interestingly enough, have a higher LOB% than their career rates by about 3-4%.

Player A seems like the easy winner for the Cy Young Award (that’d be Felix Hernandez). Player B (CC Sabathia) doesn’t have quite the stats or peripherals with 10 fewer innings and Player C (David Price) has almost 50 fewer innings.

Note that Felix easily has the best K-rate, BB-rate AND groundball-rate. That’s unbelievable.

But some detractors are saying “yada yada, AL East.”

If it were between CC and Price, I think I’d lean toward CC because of peripherals. That being said, let’s take a look at the comparison between facing the AL East and facing the AL West regularly.

CC Sabathia
34 games started
Average park factor: 101.4

Felix Hernandez
34 games started
Average park factor: 98.1

And then just for fun:

CC average pitches per inning: 15.1
Felix average pitches per inning: 14.9

So yes, Hernandez has had the benefit of better parks. Is that enough of a difference to account for AN EXTRA RUN per 9 innings? Hell no.

Felix’s ERA+ is still 174 while CC’s is 131.

Even if you count all runs, not just earned runs, Felix’ runs average is ~2.88. CC’s is ~3.49.

The difference between the line-ups that CC faced vs. the ones Felix faced are almost negligible. I want to go into further depth on the offenses of each team faced, but maybe another time. Long story short, people who bring up the AL EAST stuff forget that the AL East line-ups are significantly easier to face when you don’t have to face the Yankees. Alternatively, take out the awful Mariners’ line-up from the AL West, and it’s a much better offensive division. I don’t know how or why people consider divisions without considering a pitcher doesn’t have to face his own team.

With that in mind, it’s a pretty simple choice. Felix is a much better pitcher across the board, including line-ups, including park factors, including everything.

So there you have it. Felix is better. Hands down.


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Filed under Cy Young Award, MLB, Post-season awards

Trading Ethier: Where Would He Land?

This is gonna sound incredibly lame, but a rumor by Peter Gammons was confirmed by Ben Maller that the Dodgers may put Andre Ethier out on the open trade market to see what he could bring back. So if you’re counting, one guy said one thing that maybe the Dodgers might want to trade a player before the trade deadline. Perhaps.

Ethier signed a 2-year/$15 mil contract in the off-season to buy out his arb. 2 and 3 years–Ethier has a fourth arbitration year in 2012–and not many players are going that cheap in baseball right now.

Ned Colletti gets a lot of flack for being dumb, and unfairly so. He’s made some very good deals in the past off-seasons–getting Manny Ramirez for spare parts–even though he’s been burned on one bad one.

While moving Ethier would be horribly unpopular, it might be the right move. Ethier’s value is at its peak and he’s 28 years old. He’s hitting well against left-handed pitchers, too, and that production may not continue next year. He was never expected to be this good and for that we’re all grateful. But that also means the chances of him repeating this production for the rest of his career are pretty slim. Very few baseball players beat the scouting reports to have an above-average career and many, many baseball players lost their groove after the age of 30. So why not see what you can get?

The Dodgers right now have two corner OF minor leaguers who make intriguing options for 2011 and Andrew Lambo specifically could see a late-season call-up if the Dodgers are out of it. Lambo’s ceiling appears to be Ethier’s production, so there’s not a lot of hope in that, but

With no further ado, here’s where Ethier could land:

Chicago White Sox: White Sox currently have a .360 wOBA coming out of right field and rumor has it they’re hot on Adam Dunn, even though Nats GM Mike Rizzo is asking a lot (Hudson AND Viciedo are the rumors). White Sox GM Kenny Williams and Colletti have a good relationship and made a trade during the off-season, so maybe they go back to that well.

New York Mets: The Mets surprisingly have the worst wOBA out of the position out of all major league teams, despite being in the hunt for the NL East title. Ethier would be a huge offensive upgrade. The Mets also have some intriguing prospects in Jenrry Mejia and Ike Davis.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves would be the only team to move Ethier to a different part of the field, and they’d probably move him to left with All-Star teammate Jason Heyward fielding right. Left field has been abysmal for the Braves, fielding six different players in the position and Ethier would be such a great improvement that it’d be worthwhile for both teams. Heyward and Ethier would be an impressive duo and the Braves have some good starting pitching pieces they could send the Dodgers way (Arodys Vizcaino and Julio Teheran, for two, though it’s unknown how much their production is affected by the Braves’ extreme pitchers parks in the minors). It’s certainly intriguing what can come of a trade between these two teams.

Anaheim Angels or Oakland A’s: I can’t ultimately see either team trading for Ethier, but there’s an outside chance that the Angels forego the usual decent-defense-decent-offense plan and the A’s try to plug him in at DH. The Angels don’t have a lot to offer unless they’re willing to give up Mike Trout. But the A’s have a few interesting parts, like Michael Taylor or Jemele Weeks. This’d be weird, though, since the A’s are further out of the AL West than the Dodgers are out of the NL West.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays like team-friendly contracts and Ethier has one. He makes a little less than what Pat Burrell made and could be a decent fit for the DH spot. But knowing the Rays’ management, they’d look down on his defense and his LHP/RHP splits and decide to look elsewhere.

Within the Division: The Giants, Padres and Rockies could all use some OF offense and the Dodgers could provide it at a premium cost. Ethier’s shown he can put up some awesome numbers in the heavy-pitchers division, so it’s worth looking into.

Edit: An earlier draft of this article said the deal reached between Andre Ethier and the Dodgers this past off-season, a two-year deal worth $15 mil, bought out Ethier’s arbitration years. It bought out Ethier’s year 2 and 3 arbitration years, but because Ethier was a Super 2, he has a fourth arbitration year in 2012.

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Filed under Hot stove, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB