Saturday, October 23, 2010

11 comments Woody Paige Has An Interesting Way of Evaluating Pitchers

Woody Paige received a question in his mailbag a few weeks ago concerning the NL Cy Young award and he had an interesting answer to who he thinks should get the award in the American League. I'll give you a hint...I hate his answer.

First, Woody wrote a column where he performs a little revisionist history concerning Kyle Orton. For the entire spring and summer Woody Paige was taking a dump on Orton to pump up Tim Tebow as the best quarterback on the Broncos roster, even going as far as to say that Tebow should be the Broncos starting quarterback in the first game of the season. Here is the article of revisionist history, along with quotes from the original article advocating Tebow as the starter from back in August:

When McDaniels traded for Brady Quinn, apparently to compete with Orton for the starting job, and maneuvered to draft Tim Tebow in the first round and praised him to, well, the high heavens, Orton obviously was offended.

Yes, obviously this was offensive to Orton. It's so obvious to Woody Paige that Orton was offended, he dedicated nearly his entire summer to praising Tim Tebow.

Accusations seeped out of Dove Valley that the quarterback was lacking in leadership qualities, wasn't working out before the minicamps with his receivers and failed to regularly attend offseason training activities.

I wonder where these accusations creeped out from...I have an idea, let's check the very article I just linked from August where Woody says Tim Tebow should start at quarterback in 2010 for the Broncos:

After Orton's mediocre season in 2009, the Broncos brought in Brady Quinn for the specific purpose of challenging Orton for the starting job in Orton's final season in Denver.

Orton responded initially by not working out with his receivers, absorbing the playbook and showing lackluster interest early in the offseason training activities.

So these accusations Woody is talking about came from Woody Paige himself. So in summary, Woody Paige has started the accusations about Orton's worth ethic, reported on these accusations and is now refuting them. It's Woody's very own news cycle.

Orton's close friends and past and present teammates have said he had proven himself as a locker-room and huddle leader with the Bears and the Broncos, had thrown daily on his own with receiver Brandon Stokley, received his offseason bonus for OTA participation and felt insulted by McDaniels.

Woody Paige apparently talked to none of these people before massaging his Tebow-ner back in August and suggesting he start for the Broncos in 2010.

Orton worked harder, to earn his starting job again, earn a contract extension and earn McDaniel's esteem.

Woody writes all of these positive things about Orton AFTER he has proven to be successful this year. Throughout training camp he was too busy writing articles about Tebow like this pile of horseshit.

You can feel Woody get an erection in that column.

Orton outperformed the disappointing Quinn and the raw Tebow in the team's full minicamp in June and in the early days of training camp. He was in control of the offense, threw crisper short passes and attempted and completed more downfield passes, a rarity last season.

Interesting, this is different from what he wrote in August. Woody Paige from his August "should Tebow start" column:

Tebow can throw the short routes as well as Orton, and certainly can throw more accurately on the run.

So did Tebow through the short passes as well as Orton or not as well as Orton in training camp? Woody gives us a conflicted view of the situation.

He obviously had improved command of McDaniels' complicated playbook and system.

Orton was clearly in control of the offense, so why on August 12, when training camp was over did Woody suggest Tebow threw the short routes as well as Orton and Orton had not studied the playbook enough? He reported something completely different in August when he talked about Orton's attitude and ability in training camp than what he is reporting now. Why would that happen?

It's not often I get to read one article by a writer contradicting another article by that same writer. Woody claims Orton was in control of the team in training camp, but he apparently declined to report this and acted as if it was up in the air whether Orton was the answer to the Broncos quarterback situation or not. He was one of those perpetuating the accusations he speaks of in the October article about Orton, so either he reported on these accusations without verifying whether they were correct or not, or he was the one who started the idea Orton wasn't dedicated to the team. If Orton's control of the playbook was so obvious, why didn't Woody report like it was?

Now I will move on to a question Woody was asked in his mailbag where he talks about the NL and AL Cy Young award.

Woody: I just read an article by Joe Sheehan supporting Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award even though he is 12-12, citing his lack of run support while CC Sabathia has benefited from 176 runs in his 33 starts. Tell me why Ubaldo Jimenez shouldn't get the same consideration, besides the fact he has to pitch at hitter-friendly Coors for half his starts. He should have at last four or five more wins with only a few more runs in half the games he lost or had a no-decision.

— Donna, Glenwood Springs

Even if Jimenez got the same consideration, I would think Halladay would still be the NL Cy Young award winner. Halladay had a much better complete year than Jimenez. I would love to hear an argument to the contrary though.

This question from the reader is pretty stupid on its face anyway. There are tons of pitchers who would have won games if they had a few more runs in half the games they lost or had a no-decision.

WP: I don't buy the argument of Sheehan and others.

Considering it is a perfectly logical argument, it doesn't strike me as odd that Woody wouldn't buy it. Through this entire answer he will provide no real evidence as to why he shouldn't buy Sheehan's argument other than his personal feelings. Woody must be from the old school sportswriting school that personal feelings trumps a valid argument every time.

Felix Hernandez had a good personal year, but you can't win the Cy Young with 12 victories.

Oh no, but you can. What's weird about the Cy Young, and this is contrary to whatever Joe Morgan or any other idiot wants to tell you, but it is not a team award but an individual award. So if a player has a good personal year and goes 3-15 with a 1.26 ERA and 1.01 WHIP there is a good chance he was the best pitcher in his league that year. Therefore that pitcher could possibly win the Cy Young award.

And, in the National League, you can't win the Cy Young with four victories after the All-Star Game.

But you really can. Let's not get too stuck on this whole "wins" thing when determining how good a pitcher is. Baseball is a team sport.

Voters (media swill like me) will factor in that Hernandez didn't give up many runs, but they also will factor in that he pitches in a pitcher-friendly park in Seattle

Voters (media swill like Woody) would also have to look at what Felix Hernandez did on the road compared to how he did at home.

Hernandez's numbers at home v. road:

At home: 118.0 IP, 8 wins, 4 losses, 2.06 ERA, 7 HR, .208/.255/.278, 119 SO, 0.996 WHIP.

On the road: 131.2 IP, 5 wins, 8 losses, 2.46 ERA ER, 10 HR, .216/.289/.342, 113 SO, 1.139 WHIP.

Hernandez was still a great pitcher on the road. The biggest trouble Hernandez seemed to have on the road was walking batters. He had a 4.76 SO/BB at home and a 2.51 SO/BB on the road. That explains why Hernandez's WHIP was higher on the road, but otherwise he didn't give up too many more home runs nor did he give up too many more earned runs on the road.

So Woody can factor in the ballpark all that he wants, but it will show that Hernandez didn't give many runs away from Safeco Field either. Of course why do research on this when you can just put your foot in the dirty and refuse to budge on the idea a player with 12 wins should not win the Cy Young award?

and that his team was awful, and that he was a .500 pitcher.

He was a .500 pitcher because his team was awful. His offense was last in every single important offensive category. To put it in perspective, Hernandez would have a better chance at winning more than 12 games if he had played for any other major league team this year...including the Pirates and the Astros. So it is actually a remarkable thing that he won 12 games this year since he was in the worst possible situation in regard to getting run support from his team that he could have been.

The Mariners had a .298 OBP as a team this year. To put this in perspective, the Mariners had 4 out of 10 players with an OBP over .300 among players with more than 200 at-bats. The Pirates had 7 out of 10 players with an OBP over .300 and the Astros had 7 out of 11 players with an OBP over .300. The Mariners were a horrible hitting team, so the fact he played for an awful team IS DIRECTLY TIED to the fact he was a .500 pitcher. I don't know how many times I can re-phrase that the Mariners were the worst offensive team in the majors in 2010.

Voters (I'm not one in this category) will factor in that Ubaldo pitches in a hitter-friendly park and that he lost a lot of close decisions,

Which describes Hernandez as well. He had 0-2 runs scored for him in 15 of his 34 starts. There were many a close loss in there as well.

Taking out that Felix Hernandez performed well on the road, it doesn't matter if a ballpark is hitter or pitcher friendly when it comes to whether a pitcher gets a win or a loss. Both teams have to hit in that park. So Hernandez didn't benefit from being in a pitcher's park because it also meant his hitters had to hit in a pitcher's park.

Doc Halladay's perfect game trumps Ubaldo's no-hitter.

So incredibly irrelevant it should not even be mentioned in any way.

Halladay had more victories, more complete games, a better WHIP, a better ERA, about third as many walks and the same number of quality starts, and his team is in the postseason.

I think we have established that Halladay was a better pitcher than Jimenez and I am going to ignore the fact Woody threw a dumbass comment about Halladay's team making the postseason. We've already established Woody votes for individual awards based on team achievements, so I expect this kind of idiocy from him.

The problem I have with wins is that it is a statistic which has lost a lot of its value in the modern game of baseball. A starting pitcher used to complete a good portion of the games they started, but now there are many other variables from when a pitcher is in the game, including run support and the effectiveness of his team's relievers which affects if a pitcher gets the win. I don't hate wins, but is a statistic that is overused to determine how good a pitcher truly is.

(Nobody factors in that the American League is tougher to pitch in than the National League.)

When comparing pitchers in the National League for the Cy Young award with other pitchers in the National League, it is pointless to try and compare these pitchers to the American League pitchers. So when comparing Halladay and Jimenez, the fact the American League is tougher to pitch in is irrelevant.

If the Rockies wanted him to win the Cy Young so bad, they should have scored more runs, played harder in his final start and not dropped a ball at second base when he had another victory secured.

This. This is exactly why wins are an overrated statistic to measure a pitcher's worth by. Woody Paige mindlessly writes this sentence and still can't see the relevance of this very sentence he wrote to why Felix Hernandez should win the AL Cy Young award. None of these three things Woody listed could have been controlled by Jimenez. The fact his offense and defense weren't good around him, does that make him a less worthy pitcher for the Cy Young award? It should not. The same thing goes for Felix Hernandez.

This group of sentences makes me want to spit in the face of a mime. "If the Rockies wanted him to win the Cy Young so bad..." Why use a team performance to judge an individual's performance like this? I worry for the future of our sports world that Woody Paige can't tie in a pitcher's individual performance with his team's performance and see that they should not be judged together to determine whether that individual deserves an award.

Jimenez (and by default Felix Hernandez) had no control over how many runs his team scored, how hard his offense played and how many errors his team committed. Zero. Zilch. There's no valid reason his performance should be judged based on the faults of his teammates. What Woody Paige just wrote is the perfect example for why a pitcher who wins 12 games can win the Cy Young award.

He should have won 23-25 games, but he didn't, and that's the reality.

That is the reality. The reality is also that wins are not the sole indicator of how good a pitcher has pitched. This very example Woody uses shows this to be true. The reality is there are other ways to evaluate a pitcher without using wins that can show how good a pitcher truly was during the year. Why should Sabathia win the Cy Young because he won nearly 40% more games than Hernandez? Sabathia's ERA was nearly 30% higher, his WHIP was 10% higher, his BAA was 10% higher, and his run support average was nearly 50% higher than Hernandez's. The ONLY statistic that supports his candidacy is one of the most flawed pitching statistics that is used, and that is wins.

I may be preaching to the choir, but I still can't get over Woody Paige blaming Jimenez's lower win total to how bad his team performed and then not being able to understand how Felix Hernandez having fewer wins than other AL Cy Young candidates is irrelevant.

Jimenez honestly went through a stretch when he pitched poorly, on top of everything else. Carlos Gonzalez deserves to be MVP, but the seamheads will say, "Oh, he plays in Colorado."

I hate it when "seamheads" try to point out the bad reasoning in an argument by using the truth. Gonzalez is a great player, but I don't know if a guy who hits .289/.322/.453 with 8 home runs and 41 RBI away from his home field, as compared to .380/.425/.737 with 26 home runs and 76 RBI at home deserves to be the MVP. Gonzalez only had 13 less at-bats on the road this year than at home, so he was significantly better in his home park. Woody claims Felix Hernandez had an advantage in pitching at Safeco Field, but he ignores the affect Coors Field seemed to have on Carlos Gonzalez. So yes, he plays in Colorado and the statistics bear out that it has an effect on his numbers...at least it did this year.

Compare those numbers to Joey Votto's numbers on the road and at home. I don't see how a person could not come to the conclusion Coors Field had some effect on Gonzalez's numbers unless he was just much, much more comfortable hitting at home as opposed to on the road.

Statistics are such a pain in the ass for people when it shows their line of thinking is wrong. I believe what statistics say when I am proven wrong, so I think "old-school" sportswriters are just too lazy to use statistics and therefore don't want to believe in using them so they can't ever acknowledge they are wrong.

11 comments:

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ivn said...

but you can't win the Cy Young with 12 victories.

I like how writers will throw this rhetoric around but occasionally give the fucking award to a relief pitcher. Eric Gagne only won two games the year he won the Cy Young! please rationalize that one for me, BWAA.

either way I've given up on the "Felix for Cy" campaign. as great as it would be, it's obvious that no one in the MSM has seen the Mariners enough to know how awful they are. Jose Lopez slugged .339 this year and hit cleanup for over half the season. aside from maybe Ichiro (who wasn't really all that good this year anyhow) there wasn't a single position player who would have gotten 500 at bats for a contending team. people throw around his 13 wins but seem to forget that that total was actually the highest on the team (he won over 20% of the team's games with only 13 wins, think about it). he was the team's only chance of winning and was the only worthwhile player on the entire team. it was like watching Daniel Day-Lewis star in some terrible community college play.

rich said...

ivn,

What kills me is that the same MSM guys who talk endlessly about pitcher wins will also bitch about WARP.

Wins for pitchers are incredibly important, but telling them how many wins a position player is worth? Don't even waste your breath.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, That can't be rationalized. I am sure they would point to his saves as the reason he won the Cy Young and say that made him the best pitcher in the National League.

I was looking at the stats for the Mariners this year and I am almost amazed that he won as many games as he did. I thought the offense would be bad, but this season they were worse than bad, they were absolutely terrible. Sabathia would have had Burnett's record if he played for the Mariners.

Rich, but see WARP is a new-fangled statistic that doesn't really measure anything. Wins tell us how well a pitcher pitched while WARP tries to use computers instead of baseball players to determine the outcome of games.

I am sure that is somewhat near the reasoning that would be used for disliking WARP.

ivn said...

as always, the stats don't even tell the full story. there was one half-inning in a game early on in the season against Texas (I believe) where the leadoff hitter was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple and the next hitter was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. the final out was made when a runner got thrown out trying to go first to third on a base hit. they might have led the league in the fewest runs scored when loading the bases with one or no outs. spectacularly awful. the only games I watched after around the end of June were the games that Felix started. I don't how he gets blamed for the fact that he plays for a team that entered the season thinking that Casey Kotchman, Milton Bradley and a 40 year old Ken Griffey Jr. was a suitable heart of the order.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, but Woody Paige would say he isn't getting blamed, he just isn't a good enough pitcher to win the Cy Young because his time sucked. It's pure idiocy and I hate it. Kotchman shouldn't start for a good team and to believe Milton Bradley or Ken Griffey is the power source is stupid as well.

Of course, as good as Felix is, he pays the price with the voters who are not open minded at all.

rich said...

BGF,

Another way to look at it is that CC averaged 7.31 runs of support a game. We'll call it 7 runs a game. Felix? 3.75 runs a game. No kidding the guy lost a ton of games.

Hernandez allowed 4 runs or more three times all year. THREE.

Of the games Seattle lost with Felix starting these stand out:

L 9/23 1-0: 8 IP, 1 ER
L 8/15 9-1: 6.2 IP, 6 runs, 0 ER
L 7/26 6-1: 7 IP, 4R, 2ER
ND 7/5 6-4: 7 IP, 2ER
ND 6/24 3-2: 9IP, 2ER
ND 5/13, L 5/23, ND 5/29: 7IP or more, 2 ER or less. Bullpen allows at least 3 runs.

That's 4 losses that aren't his fault and 5 no decisions that weren't his fault either. So basically if his team doesn't suck as badly as it does, he may go 5-3 in those games instead of 0-4. Suddenly he has 18 wins and it's a fantastic season?

rich said...

I should have said 4 or more ER, not runs... my bad

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that is how it all ends up I guess. In the article, Woody was talking about how if Jimenez had a few good breaks he would have won 20+ games, but if that same stuff happened for Hernandez (as you just showed) he will win enough games to be the Cy Young award winner.

I wonder what the threshold for wins in Woody's mind to win the Cy Young would be? 18? 15? How many wins is enough to be considered for the Cy Young?

Your example proves perfectly how pitchers can be judged by wins, but it isn't a criteria that tells enough of a story to rule a pitcher out for the Cy Young simply because his win total isn't high enough.

KentAllard said...

It's never a bad time to spit in the face of a mime.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, I couldn't think of anything else to write at that point. Mimes do annoy me, so I would have to agree...with myself.