I wrote about Chris Carpenter's one-hitter in early September a day after I predicted Tim Lincecum as your NL Cy Young award winner. In the end, I concluded that while Carpenter is similar to Lincecum and deserves a closer look, Lincecum had pitched more innings.
Today, Lincecum and Carpenter still have similar rate stats, but Lincecum has 32.2 more innings pitched on the year. Lincecum and Carpenter appear to be the front runners with Adam Wainwright standing just behind, but Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez are right there. Who is the best pitcher in the National League? Let's parse through the numbers.
192.2 innings, 185 ERA+, 1.007 WHIP, 0.3 hr/9, 1.8 bb/9, 6.7 so/9, 3.79 so/bb
225.1 innings, 173 ERA+, 1.047 WHIP, 0.4 hr/9, 2.7 bb/9, 10.5 so/9, 3.84 so/bb
233 innings, 158 ERA+, 1.210 WHIP, 0.7 hr/9, 2.5 bb/9, 8.2 so/9, 3.21 so/bb
219.1 innings, 145 ERA+, 1.026 WHIP, 0.8 hr/9, 1.8 bb/9, 9.8 so/9, 5.41 so/9
229.1 innings, 143 ERA+, 1.003 WHIP, 1.1 hr/9, 1.5 bb/9, 8.8 so/9, 5.87 so/9
Finally, here are the VORP rankings:
Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez
Looking at the five pitchers before checking out the final stats, that was the order I was thinking. All five pitchers are legitimate candidates and the differences are minute. While VORP is not the end all stat, it is clear that Lincecum and Carpenter are the two best pitchers in the national league. Haren and Vazquez have the best so/bb stats, but they give up the homerun at a much higher rate than Lincecum and Carpenter. Lincecum strikes out more than Haren and Vazquez so less balls are in play and minimizes the damage when he gives up the walks. After parsing through the numbers, my order has changed slightly.
My ranking: Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, Dan Haren, Javier Vazquez, Adam Wainwright
Haren, Carpenter and Vazquez can rank in any order between second place and fourth place while Lincecum is the best and Wainwright is the fifth best. As said in the opening and back in September, Lincecum has done what Carpenter has done but has done it in more innings. And I am now done.