Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Little Cliff Lee Talk

With the Cliff Lee rumors gaining traction, including one about an incredibly strong offer from the Twins camp (Ramos and Aaron Hicks - whoa) that I'm not sure I believe, especially because the Mariners would have/should have accepted that in a heartbeat, I took some time to take a little look at Cliffy and how he'd fit into the Twins rotation.  The answer = well.

His stats are incredibly easy to look up, so I'm not going to get into that too much, but one thing I was curious about is how he would look on a start-to-start basis compared to what the Twins have now.  For that, I turn to a Bill James' creation called "Game Score."  It's a pretty simple and of course slightly flawed way to measure a pitcher's effectiveness in any given start, but it's good enough for our purposes.  The formula is:

1.  Start with a score of 50.
2.  Add 1 point for every out recorded before the fifth, with 2 points added for every out recorded from the fifth inning on.
3.  Add 1 point per strikeout.
4.  Subtract 1 point per walk allowed.
5.  Subtract 2 points per hit allowed
6.  Subtract 4 points for every earned run allowed.
7.  Subtract 2 points for every unearned run allowed.

And that's it.  Pretty simple, yes, and kind of feels like something we would have cooked up in the basement while playing Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball, but good enough.

The best game score of the year was Roy Halladay's perfect game with a 98.  The worst score of the year was Edwin Jackson's -5 in a game in which he pitched 2.1 innings and allowed 11 hits and 10 runs.  Interestingly, Jackson also has a seven this year, which makes him one of only four pitchers to have two games scoring less than a 10 (shockingly, Blackburn isn't one of them).  He also has three games above an 80, which is the same amount as Halladay and one more than Ubaldo.  He must be maddening to watch.

Anyway, I looked at the Twins' starters' scores each week, compared Cliff Lee's score for that week, and checked where he would slot in.  Below are the starters game scores for each start, with the columns representing the weeks of the season.  Lee's game scores are slotted in and highlighted in yellow.

As you can see, in the 10 weeks since he came off the DL, he would have had the best start by any Twin pitcher that week in 3 of the weeks, with the second best start in another three, with two of those second place finishes only being displaced because of incredible outings by Pavano (complete game shutout) and Baker (7 innings, 2 hits, 12 ks).

Ten of his twelve starts qualify as quality starts according to this metric (game score = 50 or greater), compared to the overall Twins' % of just 56%.  He has seven games this year which have scored at least 70.  The Twins as a team have had twelve.  His average game score, including the one clunker, is a 65.  That would be the 18th best start of the year by a Minnesota starter, and essentially equivalent to Nick Blackburn's best game.

I'm going to say that again.  Cliff Lee's average outing is essentially equal to the best that Nick Blackburn has offered this year.  I know it's skewed a bit since Blacky isn't a strikeout pitcher, but even so that is a bit staggering.

If nothing else, acquiring Lee and his 65 average allows Blackburn (and his average of 40) to be removed from the rotation.  So every five days instead of something like 6 innings/10 hits/4 runs/1 walk/ 4 ks, you'd be getting something like 7 innings/6 hits/1 run/2 walks/7 ks.

Sign me up.  I don't really love giving up both Ramos and Hicks, but I say do whatever it takes.

And try to get them to take Blackburn.

Lastly, I feel as if I haven't been giving you all enough WonderbabyTM lately, and with Wonderbaby 2.0TM arriving in approximately six weeks, I should jam the original in here as much as possible. So here's the little darlin' getting her fish on this weekend. She only caught one fewer fish than Daddy.


snacks said...

Hahahaha, that means you only caught one fish. I'm going to have to send you tons of pictures of all the fish I catch there this weekend.

And, wait...you went through all that just to determine that Cliff Lee is really good and it would be better if the Twins had him in the rotation than Blackburn?

WWWWWW said...

It's fun to put numbers to things.