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Thursday, August 25, 2005

CYCOLON
The team wasn't firing on all cylinders last night, but the offense played just well enough to garner Bartolo his 17th win. The Big Mango's been far more dominant than he was last night, but he still took care of business, and is on a terrific run.

In fact, once we got past his awful first half last season, Colon has turned into a pretty snazzy signing:
                 W   L   ERA    IP
1st Half, 2004 6 8 6.38 104.3
Since Then 29 10 3.45 284.3
Bartolo leads the league in wins, so naturally thought turns to his Cy Young candidacy.

When I come to evaluate pitchers for the Cy Young Award, my first step is to look at two things: ERA and innings pitched. I don't really care about wins and losses, as they are so dependent on the rest of the team (see: Escobar, Kelvim, 2004 and Washburn, Jarrod, 2005). There are a number of things to look at after that, if it's close, but that's how I start to narrow it down.

Bartolo ranks 7th out of AL qualifiers in ERA and 4th in innings pitched. Two of the three guys ahead of him in innings pitched have better ERAs: Mark Buehrle (2.99 against Colon's 3.34) and Johan Santanadana (3.22). They're all pretty close in innings, though Buehrle has about 9 innings on Colon.

As for Buehrle vs. Colon, if Buehrle had his 2.99 ERA in Colon's number of innings, he'd have allowed 59.9 earned runs (that .9 will always kill you in a close game), where Colon has allowed 67. So that's nearly a win for Buehrle right there.

But -- Buehrle has allowed a rather high amount of unearned runs. He's allowed 14 UER to give him 77 runs allowed total; Bartolo has only allowed 5 UER for 72 total. If you look at Runs Allowed Per Nine Innings, Colon actually has Buehrle beat, 3.59 to 3.65.

Of course, unearned runs are often considered unearned for a reason. But sometimes the pitcher is really the guy most responsible for those runs scoring. In one game, Buehrle allowed three unearned runs as a result of his own throwing error (only one scored on the actual play). Though I don't think that Buehrle's fielding should be held against his pitching, he did allow 14 hits in only 6 1/3 innings that game, and allowed hits to six of the ten batters he faced after the error.

The season's not over, so I'm certainly not going to go through the whole season to figure that sort of thing out for all of his unearned runs. I do think Bartolo is legitimately in the running for the CYA. The one thing I haven't mentioned yet is ballparks -- the Angel Stadium park factor is .92 so far this year (meaning Angels and their opponents score 92% as many runs per game in Los Angeles of Anaheim as they do on the road) while New Comiskey (or whatever it's called) is at 1.05.

Adjusting the park factors to the Runs Allowed Per Nine, Buehrle moves to 3.56 and Bartolo to 3.74. The ERA advantage for Buehrle would also grow, and we'd still have the fact that he's thrown more innings. And we haven't even gotten to Santana yet, or any other candidate.

It is, of course, far too early to declare a winner. There is a lot of baseball yet to be played, and Bartolo has been on fire. The Fat Man has started to earn his Fat Contract, and it's a fun thing to see.

Comments:
Aw, you went and said everything I was going to say about all this. I agree - to me, ERA and IP are at the top, followed closely by K's. Of secondary importance - BB, HR, and fielding (including SB/CS/PO numbers).

Anyway, a casual look at the stats seems to show a pretty wide-open race right now, although I'd probably have to vote for Santana. Whether he'll get many votes with several fewer wins than his competition is an open question, though.
 
So, if Bart is the Fat Man, does that make Santana Little Boy, 'cause they're both da bomb?
 
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