Are starting pitchers valuable?
First off, I should say that I am not against starting pitchers winning the MVP award. In fact, I think Pedro Martinez’s loss in the 1999 race is one of the award’s greatest tragedies. With that said, I would very rarely vote for a starting pitcher to win the award, and I would not have voted for Justin Verlander this season.
Nevertheless, it’s strange to me that there is such a bias against starting pitchers winning the MVP. The logic generally used against them—that starters only affect one-fifth as many games as position players—seems wrong to me. To make a point Tim has made before: Starting pitchers affect fewer games, but their impact on those games is far greater than any one position player. In other words, starting pitchers affect far more at-bats than everyday players: In 2011 Verlander faced 969 batters this season—no position player has ever had more than 778 plate appearances in a single season.
So the reason I’m usually against voting for pitchers is the opposite of the normal logic; to me, if you treated starters and everyday players equally in MVP voting, a pitcher would win the award every year. After all, if you were building a team from scratch, wouldn’t your first pick be a starting pitcher almost every time? Continue reading »
Yesterday was Opening Day, and while NPI still be caught up in college basketball excitement, that doesn’t mean we can’t bring you the brilliant baseball analysis you’ve come to expect. Today John S will be breaking down the National League, so brace yourself for backhanded compliments, ill-informed generalizations, and an overall tone of condescension and derision!
1. San Francisco Giants
2. Colorado Rockies
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. San Diego Padres
5. Arizona Diamondbacks
Hey, remember when the Padres were in first place? What? When did that happen?
For most of last year, actually. Lies! Next you’ll be telling me that it was largely due to someone named Luke Gregerson…
Well, now that you mention it—Look, the Giants’ whole “underdog” thing was fun when they toppled the Phillies, but it sort of ignores the fact that San Francisco has great starters, including two of the best in baseball. And it’s not like any of the four had unsustainably great years—in fact, we can probably expect Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner to get better. After all, Lincecum had by far the worst year of his young career in 2010, and Bumgarner only pitched half a season. Continue reading »
This was probably the most exciting division last year, if only because it gave us that thrilling Wild Card Playoff (you may remember it as Game 163, because Chip Caray called it that approximately 162,886 times during the game) that cracked Tim’s top five games of the decade. A lot of that was due to Detroit falling off dramatically as the season went on, and the Tigers are still trending downwards. They lost Placido Polanco and Curtis Granderson in the off-season, and Magglio Ordonez got another year older. The big news out of this division, though, is that the Twins just signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year extension, meaning that, at the very least, they have the MVP front-runner for the next nine years. Continue reading »
A groundswell has been growing (budding? Swelling? What do “groundswells” do, exactly?) in the race for this year’s American League Cy Young Award. Zack Greinke had a dominant season, on par with historically great pitching seasons (Pedro in ’99, Guidry in ’78, Clemens in ’86, etc.*), but he’s in danger of losing out on the award. Since Greinke’s team, the Royals, was as bad he was good in 2009, Greinke finished with a mere 16 wins. Six pitchers in the league had more wins than he did.
*We’re not even going to count Bob Gibson’s 1968 season, because the pitching statistics for that season were so aberrational that I’m not sure what he was playing technically constitutes “baseball.” Continue reading »