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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

HALOPALOOZA
As I mentioned a post or two ago, the last half of last week saw me traveling, so I didn't have any opportunity to post here. Not only that, but as I was DVRing the games, I avoided all news of them to the best of my ability, and watched them all upon my return Sunday night.

Fast-forwarding between pitches and innings cuts down your watching time considerably, and though I'm used to it (I haven't seen a game live all season, and won't until this weekend at the earliest), four games in one day tend to run together. Suffice to say that I'm happy with the split and a 5-2 start.

I'm particularly happy with our starting rotation. Our weakest start thus far came from Joe Saunders, but even he was a mere one out away from a quality start and kept us in the game. He got let down by the bullpen (What! Frankie isn't perfect?!), but the other loss was dealt to Kelvim Escobar, who received the run support he has typically been given in Angel red.

Kelvim's run support, and whether or not his mediocre win-loss record coupled with his superb ERA and other stats means Kelvim just "doesn't know how to win", has been kind of a theme of the Halosphere for awhile now. Let's take another look at it.

You know about Game Scores, right? They're just this toy Bill James came up with for rating starts by pitchers. You start at 50, and get points for doing good things and lose points for doing bad things. It's not the most scientific process, but it's a good way to generalize the quality of different starts.

Here is every win Kelvim has as a starter with the Angels. He has pitched very well in those starts, averaging a game score of 60.4 and an ERA of 2.55.

What's kind of shocking is how he has done in his losses. Yeah, he's pitched poorly overall, with an ERA of 5.84 in losses, but his average game score is 47.0, just a bit below average. In his losses, by contrast, Bartolo Colon has an average game score of 33.4 ... and an ERA of 9.00.

Kelvim has gotten the shaft on non-decisions as well. Hell, let's just put it in a chart:
                            Pitcher
Avg Game Score in: Goggles Gordo
Wins: 60.4 62.6
Losses: 47.0 33.4
No-Decisions: 54.6 47.0
Though Bartolo Colon has pitched just a bit better than Escobar during wins (and that's a very slight difference, and you could make the argument it's a virtual tie), Escobar has pitched about just as well during his losses as during Colon's no-decisions, which is pretty crazy. Look at it this way:
                            Pitcher
W-L-ND with GS : Goggles Gordo
80+: 1-0-1 3-0-0
70-79: 3-1-3 10-0-2
60-69: 10-2-3 11-2-0
50-59: 9-8-3 11-4-2
40-49: 1-8-6 5-2-3

30-39: 1-6-2 0-3-5
-29: 0-3-0 0-14-0
Here we see that Colon has both more outstanding and more horrible starts than Escobar, but what's really interesting is that middle section that I bolded. In game scores registered between 40 and 59, Kelvim is 10-16-9 while Colon is 16-6-5. That's a pretty incredible difference, and I have no reason to believe that it's something Kelvim has done to deserve this.

Let's take a look at the starts where each pitcher scored in that 40-59 range. You can view Kelvim's starts at these links.

Here are the opponents Kelvim faced in those games, their ERA+ for the season, and how many innings they threw that game (the "GS" for Game Score and "result" refers to Kelvim's GS and decision):
Opponent      Year    ERA+    Inn    GS   Result
J. Contreras 2006 109 8.3 59 L
M. Buehrle 2006 93 6.7 58 W
J. Lester 2006 97 6.3 58 W
S. Chacon 2006 70 4.7 58 W
J. Washburn 2006 93 6.0 57 L
E. Loaiza 2006 91 3.7 57 W
W. Ledezma 2005 60 5.3 57 W
R. Drese 2004 120 7.0 57 L
T. Lilly 2004 120 6.7 56 W
F. Garcia 2004 121 7.0 56 ND
G. Chacin 2006 93 7.0 55 L
J. Lester 2006 93 5.0 55 L
M. Redman 2004 99 5.3 55 W
E. Volquez 2006 64 5.0 53 ND
J. Blanton 2007 103 5.3 52 L
J. Garland 2004 100 7.0 52 ND
V. Padilla 2007 63 4.7 51 W
M. Redman 2004 99 7.3 51 L
K. Loe 2006 80 7.0 50 L
J. Johnson 2004 88 5.0 50 W
L. Hudson 2006 95 6.3 48 ND
P. Martinez 2004 125 6.0 47 L
M. Mulder 2004 106 7.0 47 ND
C. Lee 2005 108 6.0 46 L
B. Radke 2005 109 7.3 46 L
S. Ponson 2004 90 9.0 46 L
K. Brown 2004 110 6.0 45 ND
B. Zito 2004 105 6.0 45 L
C. Janssen 2006 93 8.0 44 L
E. Loaiza 2006 91 5.3 43 ND
B. Zito 2004 105 7.0 43 ND
R. Drese 2004 120 6.7 43 L
J. Weaver 2004 103 6.3 42 L
T. Hudson 2005 125 4.0 40 ND
S. Elarton 2004 79 6.0 40 W
TOTALS/AVERAGES 99 6.2 50 10-16-9
Breaking that down a bit, Kelvim faced 19 pitchers with ERA+ marks below the league average (which is always 100), and averaged a game score of 52 in those games, going 9-7-3 against those opponents. Against pitchers with an ERA+ of 100 or better, Kelvim had an average game score of 49 and went 1-9-6.

This hints that Kelvim has not pitched as well when facing other good starting pitchers, and is the first indication I've come across that Kelvim may be at all responsible for his mediocre win-loss record with the Angels. However, remember that I'm looking at only a particular subset of Kelvim's starts here, not all of them. Some of his more outstanding starts, as measured by game scores, may have come against other good pitchers; I don't know.

On the whole, Kelvim in these games was average, and faced average opponents.

Let's look at Bartolo's starts that fit the same profile:
Opponent      Year    ERA+    Inn    GS   Result
C. Wilson 2005 65 4.7 59 W
R. Drese 2005 74 7.0 59 W
J. Towers 2005 120 6.7 58 ND
T. Wakefield 2004 100 4.0 58 W
J. Garland 2005 127 6.0 57 W
R. Halladay 2004 116 6.0 57 W
E. Bedard 2006 120 8.0 56 L
T. Hudson 2004 133 7.3 56 L
B. Zito 2005 116 7.0 54 W
J. Harris 2005 103 3.0 54 W
T. Wakefield 2005 106 4.3 54 W
C. Park 2005 75 1.0 53 W
K. Ishii 2005 81 5.7 53 W
C. Park 2006 88 6.7 51 L
R. Franklin 2004 88 7.0 51 W
K. Benson 2004 97 8.0 51 L
C. Fossum 2006 87 5.7 50 ND
R. Hernandez 2006 75 7.3 49 L
P. Hentgen 2004 70 5.0 48 ND
J. Serrano 2004 95 4.7 47 W
C. Park 2004 93 5.3 46 W
R. Hernandez 2005 78 5.0 45 W
R. Johnson 2005 117 6.0 44 W
J. Bonderman 2005 93 6.0 43 ND
J. Moyer 2006 102 6.7 42 ND
B. Arroyo 2005 98 6.0 42 W
J. Santana 2004 182 7.0 41 L
102 5.8 51 16-6-5
Interestingly, Bartolo managed a better record in these games despite facing a higher quality of opponent than Kelvim, on average. However, those pitchers did not seem to have as good of days as they normally did, as they only average 5.8 innings per start as opposed to the 6.2 racked up by Kelvim's mound opponents.

14 of the 27 starts came against below average pitchers; Bartolo was 9-3-3 in those games with an average game score of 50. Remember, Kelvim had a score of 52 in games against such opponents, but only managed to go 9-7-3. (The quality of the opposing below-average pitchers was essentially the same, an 85 ERA+ for Bartolo's and an 87 for Kelvim's.)

This is another indicator, to me, of Kelvim's bad luck with offense. Kelvim faced opponents just as bad as Bartolo in these games, pitched just as well if not better, and had a much worse winning percentage.

Against good pitchers, Bartolo averaged a score of 53 while going 7-3-2; his average opponent in this category had an ERA+ of 123. Remember, Kelvim scored 49 while going 1-9-6; his opponents here had an ERA+ of 112. Interestingly, however, Kelvim's above-average opponents, despite being less good overall, average 6.5 innings per start while Bartolo's averaged 6.0. That suggests to me that the Angel offense did do well against these opponents, so while Kelvim's performance in these starts explains part of his record, the performance of the Angel offense is also a factor.

Anyway, this whole thing has gotten way out of hand. How long is this damn post? I don't know. But I will take notice this year of how Kelvim (and the Angel offense) does against other good starting pitchers, to see if he can be blamed if his mediocre fortune in garnering decisions continues.

By the way, if you've clicked on any of the links here, you can see how awesome Baseball Reference's Play Index is.

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