Thursday, March 26, 2009

Curt Schilling Deserves the Hall of Fame

March 26, 2009 - While most people in the baseball community are debating the merits of whether recently retired pitcher Curt Schilling deserves induction in Cooperstown, with the concensus melding around the thought that he is a borderline candidate, let's make one thing clear from the Stat Geek Baseball point of view. We think he deserves it! With no hesitation. With no statement that if Curt gets in, it's predominantly because of his stellar 11-2 record in the postseason and three World Series titles. Yes, they are icing on the cake. And of course, they deserve to be reasons why he should be in. But let's get one thing straight. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, because for the majority of twenty seasons, and especially during a ten year stretch from 1997-2006, Curt Schilling was one of the best pitchers of all-time inside an era of great piching. Yes, we've said it. This steroid era of baseball with all those prodigious home run totals put up by the Maguires, Sosas, Bonds, and Brady Andersons of the world was not a great hitter era, it was dominated by seven pitchers (Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown), and Curt Schilling was one of them. And at the end of the day, after all the votes have been counted by the BBWA over their fifteen years of eligibility, don't be surprised if at least six of those seven are in the Hall of Fame, plus Mariano Rivera, too.

But let's focus on Schilling here, and the reasons why we think he's high on that list. Curt Schilling has a total regular season Player Rating for his career of 282.056 (PEVA), #19 on the list of all-time career pitchers. Every pitcher who is eligible for the Hall of Fame who has a higher rating already has a plaque in Cooperstown. It's even above the 275 PEVA total that suggests first round ballot induction, although we think the fantastic year five years hence when Maddux, Mussina, and Schilling are all on the list together will be a fascinating vote. Either Mussina and/or Schilling might not make it in on the first ballot because of that. More about that career best list. Every eligible pitcher above 212 PEVA Career Player Rating is already in, except Bert Blylevin, and he should be.

See Best Pitchers Ever - Career for the list. You can download the full list of rankings for all pitchers in history there (pdf format).

And if you don't like to use counting career numbers, but are more focused on a per year basis, Curt Schilling is #34 (this list includes current pitchers with a total career PEVA over 100 whose Per Year Rating will likely fall toward the end of their careers) with a 14.103 PEVA Per Year Player Rating. Every HOF eligible pitcher with that level PEVA Per and above, except Tommy Bond, is already in the Hall of Fame as well. And Tommy Bond is only on the outside looking in because his career was only ten years long.

See Best Pitchers Ever - Career Per Year for the complete PEVA per year list.

Then there's the Postseason data that most point to as the major reason why Schilling should be in. Oh, and that's so good, it should tip the balance even if you don't think the above is quite good enough. Curt's 11-2 record in five postseasons and 133.3 Innings Pitched to the tune of a 2.23 ERA and three rings gave him the #4 ranking of Career Postseason pitchers with 12.443 Post PEVA Player Rating. (Post PEVA is @10% multiple of regular season totals for those unfamiliar with Post PEVA) But of course, that seems unfair, since unlike the regular season, pitchers have an uneven chance of participating. For all pitchers who have pitched in at least three postseasons, Schilling has the #5 best Per Postseason PEVA rating at 2.489. Who's above him. Try Bob Gibson, Josh Beckett, George Earnshaw, and Christy Mathewson. Rounding out the Top Ten with Curt, and you see other pretty famous folks; Carl Hubbell, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser, and Herb Pennock.

Still not convinced Schiling should be in. Take a look at the Best Pitching Seasons of All-Time. How does Curt stack up there? Well, he had two years in the Top 100. And how does that compare to his pitching peers? Greg Maddux 6, Randy Johnson 3, Pedro Martinez 4, Tom Glavine 0, Mike Mussina 0, Kevin Brown 2. See Best Pitcher Years Ever.

#76 - Schilling Curt 2001 ARI NL 22-6 W-L, 256.7 IP, 2.98 ERA
38.613 PEVA
#91 - Schilling Curt 2002 ARI NL 23 7 W-L, 259.3 IP, 3.23 ERA
37.153 PEVA

But how do you refute the buts?
Q - But he only had 216 wins over 20 seasons, that's pretty far away from 300.
A - Schilling pitched in an era that devalued wins, particularly in the second half of his career, with the ascendency in the role of relief pitcher thus pushing down win totals. But even with that, he compares well with HOF pitchers such as Jim Bunning (224 wins), Don Drysdale (209), Hal Newhouser (207), Dazzy Vance (197) and Whitey Ford (236).

Q - But that ERA's too high at 3.46. I don't want a pitcher in the HOF with an ERA approaching 3.50.
A - How would you have liked to face those steroid batters and the increase in Run Production during his period of pitching? How do you think some of the pitchers of the past would have fared. Plus pitchers like Robin Roberts (3.41 ERA), Phil Niekro (3.35), Early Wynn (3.54), and Dennis Eckersley (3.50) are pitchers already enshrined with an ERA in the same territory.

Q - But he didn't get going quick enough, so it's valid to say his counting stats not being higher is not just because of era, it's because he wasn't very good at the beginning of his career.
A - Curt Schilling had 14 wins with a 2.35 ERA over 236.3 innings when he was 26 years old and followed that up with 16 wins the next year. He lost out on those counting stats predominantly during the two year stretch after that when injury and the strike years cost him wins. But even with that, Schilling won 20 games three times during his career, had a PEVA Player Rating over 10.000 thirteen times, over 20.000 six times, and over 30.000 four times. And in those years, he was dominant, both in victories, strikeouts, postseason performance, and just look at his strikeout to walk ratios during those years, they were truly amazing for a pitcher with his power style profile.

Curt Schilling belongs in the Hall of Fame and we'd vote for him on the first ballot. We think he might miss out on that first year, but within the first five years, think the Baseball Writers will see him with merits and vote him in. And he's going to have a lot of pitching company in those years, plus Frank Thomas from the hitter's side. It'll be interesting to follow the election process five years from now. Interesting to see when, not if, Schilling, will be in. Here's one outsider's vote for Curt.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Cleaning Up Spring

March 20, 2009 - Well, since it seems like Spring Training is really muddling along right now, we thought we'd enter the muddle as well and clean up some of the mud in this really long spring training odyssey that, we guess, is moving toward opening day. Must be what a World Baseball Classic brings, but does it seem to anyone else that the real purpose of spring training, to get pitchers, catchers, and position players ready for the April to October season and figure out your roster seems to be getting lost in the mix. Well, at least the classic has moved into the final rounds and will be over soon. Can't be over soon enough for us. I mean, the real tournament, NCAA College Basketball and March Madness, started yesterday, and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers is really a much better story than the Netherlands to most sports fans in the USA.

Okay, back to baseball. One minor signing has been running through the treadmill and should be completed after the physical, and what impact it will have on the race for the National League Central is truly unknown, but might be significant. Ivan Rodriguez will likely sign with the Houston Astroes soon and solidify the southern Texas team's catching. Now Ivan is not the Ivan of old. He's going to be 38 this year and his best days are behind him, but that does not mean he would not be a good add. While Rodriguez didn't add much to the New York Yankees after his trade in the middle of the year, his stint before that with a bad Detroit team was productive, hitting 0.295 with 32 RBI. If Houston can get that kind of production for a $1.5 million guaranteed contract, they'll be happy. And apparently they need something to jumpstart this squad. I know it's only spring training, but losing 19 straight games, even in Little League, is pretty bad and says something, we're not sure what, about your team. We think Houston's an okay squad this year, a middle of the pack team in a bad division. We don't think they're a bad team in a middle of the pack division, and that's what they're pretending to be right now. But things could change once the World Baseball Classic is over. This team certainly needs Roy Oswalt as a stud pitcher to be competitive, and a positive contribution by fellow USA team member Latroy Hawkins in the bullpen is gonna be important, too.

Team Predictions 2009

Check out the Full Article on Team Predictions 2009
by Baseball Evaluation and Stat Geek Baseball on the predictions page @

Team Predictions 2009 - NL

Team Predictions 2009 - AL

Friday, March 6, 2009

PEVA Shuffle Index - Batting Power Rankings

PEVA Shuffle Index - Batting Power Rankings

March 6, 2009 - Somebody woke up Manny. That's good for Dodger fans for sure. With his addition to the blue mix, they've risen to the #3 spot in the PEVA shuffle for preseason 2009 in both their offseason movement, as well as the Batting Power Rankings as we head through spring training and into the regular season. But the biggest splash in the roster manipulation pool for batters amongst the 30 baseball clubs, not counting those World Baseball Classic rosters, was not the Los Angeles Dodgers and Manny, or even the big power clubs in New York City, it was two smaller market, down on their luck clubs trying to make waves in the regular season waters in 2009. How big a wave? Well, that'll depend on a whole lot of things, but they certainly are moving in the right direction as far as their offense goes.

Who has done the best in the PEVA Shuffle for batters here in the beginning days of March.

Top Five
1. Oakland A's - Known mostly for their trade deadline moves away from contention and veteran high-salary players, the A's took a decidedly un-Beane like move toward contention in the AL West by adding a bunch of sluggers and well-known names to their batting lineup. Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Orlando Cabrera, Nomar Garciaparra. Now some of these players are no longer MVP caliber, but others, such as Holliday and Cabrera are prime career players bound to help a struggling offense. How Holliday will do outside the confines of Coors will be interesting to watch. And whether he'll stay through the whole year another question, but until then, the Oakland A's have moved up the PEVA Shuffle Index for Batting by 27.731 rating points. Now let's not talk about the player sale on the pitching front here, which could discount these moves considerably, but even with that, the A's could be looking for 3 additional wins (+13 Batting, -10 Pitching) in 2009.

2. Washington Nationals - With so much attention being focused on the election of Barack Obama and the economic troubles, you'd think the Nationals would be content with moving under the radar in the nation's capitol. Well, that's certainly been their modis operandi the last two years, but not in 2009. With the addition of Adam Dunn, plus a lesser cohort in Josh Willingham, the run scoring potential of the Nationals is on the rise. Don't be too shocked if this 20.794 shuffle increase in batting PEVA doesn't see Washington in a battle to move out of the National League East cellar.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers - There you go, Manny. Thanks for making the caveats a whole lot easier. Add the 19.930 in the PEVA Shuffle, mostly due to Ramirez, although the nice addition of Orlando Hudson to the starting lineup and the backups of Ausmus and Loretta will have good impact, too.

4. New York Yankees - Well, you knew with the addition of Mark Teixeira they'd have to be in here somewhere. And they are. But just when have you seen the Yankees rank behind the A's and Nationals in anything. Additional 15.755 in the PEVA Shuffle.

5. Tampa Bay Rays - It probably won't be enough to hold off the Yankees again for a playoff spot, but who knows. With the addition of Pat Burrell, an increase in the PEVA Batting shuffle comes in at 12.281. But we all know the fortunes of the Rays has a lot more to do with the progression of their young players like Longoria and Upton, plus pitchers Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Price, and Sonnanstine.

Bottom Five
26. Florida Marlins - There's a lot of deletion here in south Florida, and although it's rarely had the impact that other clubs have seen due to the play of young players brought in, we've got a sneaking suspiciion this might be the year it doesn't work. Downgrade the PEVA batting Shuffle by -17.370.
27. Colorado Rockies - Loss of Holliday has to hurt. Down -17.440 in PEVA Batting Shuffle. But they still have the humidor.
28. Texas Rangers - A negative 20.575 for those Rangers. In a hitter's park where they think Padilla and Millwood are aces, you should be compensating somewhere. We think this is another tough year in Arlington.
29. Chicago White Sox - Although this weak division will see the White Sox in contention despite the PEVA batting shuffle moving down 23.511 points, it'll be increasingly hard to beat back the Twins or Indians. Plus don't look now, but we could have a Royal resurgence sooner than you'd think.
30. Pittsburgh PIrates - Long gone are the days of Parker, Stargell, and Sanguillen. Geez, even gone are the days of Jason Bay, who now may be one of the best Red Sox players. Yes, they still have Nate McLouth, but if this franchise doesn't start to win more soon, the chances of keeping him long term are not great. Down 26.320 in the PEVA Batting Shuffle.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

PEVA Shuffle Index - Pitching Power Rankings

PEVA Shuffle Index - Pitching Power Rankings

March 4, 2009 - The off-season moves are winding down, and spring training games are under way. Now somebody go to Sleepy Hollow or Chavez Ravine or Delusion Fields and tell Manny that baseball games are being played and that there's a recession going on. Translate if you must. But just who has made the biggest splash in roster manipulation, the ripples in the waters that will extend far into the regular season, that based on last year's performance, will auger well for 2009. Has moving the deck chairs of these players really mattered and just how does it look from here, for now, before even one World Baseball Classic game has been played and bored the rest of the USA?

There have been a lot of changes and more than a few teams have made their case for better pitching staffs. The ups and downs of the PEVA Shuffle Index show just where the table will start to be set once the real games begin. This index is not a projection, folks, but it is based on the only thing we know for now. If the year 2009 has player performance like 2008, where do we stand today.

Who has done the best in the PEVA Shuffle for pitchers, here on 3.4.2009.

Top Five
1. New York Yankees - No surprise here. If you spend two hundred and fifty million dollars on two pitchers, one spectacular, the other good and overpaid, you're bound to see a pretty good bump. And the Yankees pitching staff will be better, barring injury of course, with the addition of Sabathia to the rotation. Burnett we're not too sure of. But going into the season, the additions of Sabathia, Burnett, and others have added 24.598 PEVA 2008 player rating points to the pitching staff, and that's certainly good. How good? Think an extra 12 wins.

2. New York Mets - Just go across the city to the other new ballpark and there's no surprise that the increase in revenue has allowed the Mets to parlay the cash into additional free agent pitchers. For them, most of the focus has been on the bullpen with Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. But the Mets have added a ton of pitchers beyond them, too, through trades of consequential and seemingly inconsequential metal, through free agency. Some will purely add depth. Some will provide a few nice surprises. Has Tim Redding been brought if for a few Phils games since he has shown a masterly proficiency against the boys from Philly? Will a Dessens or Garcia recapture some past magic? All in all a PEVA Shuffle increase of 21.195.

3. Atlanta Braves - Somebody must have told the folks down south that their trip down the standings was not going to stop if the flow of free agents kept leaving town without anyone to take their place. But quietly the Braves have added a few good folks to the pitching mix that may mitigate the losses at hand. Derek Lowe may not have been the top name on the free agent pile, but he's not that far behind. With Lowe and Javier Vazquez, the Bravos have picked up a lot of potential innings while the staff around them jells. Upgade of 20.609 PEVA.

4. Boston Red Sox - Even though they seemed to be taking a big back seat to their rivals to the south, don't be too surprised if the better pitching staff doesn't reside in Beantown. And if John Smoltz comes back to something near his form, look out. 13.003 PEVA Shuffle plus not too shabby.

5. San Francisco Giants - Big ballpark. Big pitcher. Randy Johnson may be old, but the combination of those two factors, if he can retain any amount of good health, will help San Francisco jump back into the mix in the NL West, particularly if the Manny sweepstakes hits a lottery bump for the Dodgers. But he's not the only reason. Think Affeldt, Howry, and Justin Miller, too. Upgrade of 12.770 PEVA, good for an additional 6 wins of so.

Bottom Five
26. San Diego Padres - And if they got their way, they'd delete Jake Peavy, too. PEVA Shuffle downgrade of -17.081.
27. Oakland A's - Kinda like the swallows coming home to Capistrano. This is a seasonal right seeing the A's sell off pitching and going with youth. And it works, a bit, but is a heck of a way to try and compete. Downgrade PEVA - 20.737.
28. Florida Marlins - See Oakland above, but they have a tendency to play well young. Trouble is, ... look at the rest of this division. For some reason, we think Florida is in trouble this year. PEVA Shuffle - 21.473.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers - What would happen if you base your entire off-season of courting one player and that one player doesn't show, or doesn't show up and play as well as he did the last two months of last season. Well, still not sure if we'll get the chance to find out, but the Dodgers lost a lot of pitching in the off-season in Lowe, Penny, Saito, and others. They've got youth, too. The youth has to be ready to pitch. -29.370 in the PEVA Shuffle index.
30. Milwaukee Brewers - You lose the top two pitchers in your rotation; one which might have won the Cy Young if he hadn't moved from one league to the other in the center of the year. The other, injured often, but when healthy, one of the better pitchers in the game. This will be the year that the Brewer offense better come to play. A loss of 46.396 in the PEVA Shuffle from the end of 2009 till today.

PEVA Power Ranking Shuffle Index 2009