Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An In-Depth Look Into the A's Rotation

For A's fans coming into the 2008 season, there was not much optimism. After the trades of Swisher and Haren, the season was supposed to be sacrificed for the future. The few hopes for A's fans came from Rich Harden healthy enough to start the season (once again), Eric Chavez supposed good recovery and quick return, and Justin Duchscherer joining the rotation. If you told these same fans that Harden and Duchscherer would go on the DL early and Chavy would be nowhere near returning, (he's currently on the 60 day DL) they would be sure the team was struggling mightily.

However this is not the case as the A's sit at 17-10, giving them the best record in the AL. Their offense could be called at best "sufficient" since it has been around the league average in hitting and it not the reason for the team's success. Rather the A's dominance has come from their rather dominant pitching, which currently owns a league-best 3.14 era. So if the pitching has not come from Harden, Duchscherer, or projected "ace" Joe Blanton, (4.07 era thus far) who has came through?

Names I'll throw out now are Andrew Brown (15 IP 0.00 ERA) Santiago Casilla (13.1 IP 0.00 ERA) Dana Eveland (29 IP 2.48 ERA) Chad Gaudin (30 IP 3.00 ERA) and Greg Smith (25 IP 2.88 ERA). I will take a closer look at these five players in the upcoming days and determine if they are legitimate MLB pitchers or just "fakers" pretending to be for the month of April.

I'm not going to discuss these pitchers tonight, but rather the method I will be using to evaluate them. It was proven that pitchers have little control over balls in play, and only control strikeouts, walks, home runs, and to a lesser extent extra-basehits and flyball/groundball ratio. (for a nice, short paragraph explaining what I'm saying, click here) Keeping that in mind, to evaluate the pitchers I will only look at BB%, K%, HR/FB%, FB/GB%, and stats like FIP that are luck-independent pitching statistics by definition.

So maybe tomorrow or sometime in the next few days look forward to my analysis. Since a few of the pitchers are rookies (Smith and Eveland) and almost all have limited major league experience, minor league stats will be necessary

Lastly I should note that Harden, Duchscherer, Joey Devine, and Keith Foulke have a combined 1.70 ERA in 37.1 innings, which definitely factors into the 3.14 team ERA, although none pitched enough innings individually to be included. Also Blanton's 4.07 ERA was achieved over 48.2 IP, and his inning-eating ability has definitely helped the team. I was not taking a shot at him earlier, he just hasn't exceeded expectations.