Saturday, October 23, 2010

Colby Lewis is a Legit Number Two Pitcher

Rob Neyer wrote about the advantages the Texas Rangers have over the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. He picked the Rangers in six games. He highlights the one area where the Giants seem to have an advantage over the Rangers, starting pitching, and disputes the big discrepancy. He says that the Rangers are at least equal to the Giants.

"The Rangers can certainly match the Giants' starters. Cliff Lee is just as good as Tim Lincecum and C.J. Wilson is just as good as Matt Cain, and Colby Lewis is just as good as Jonathan Sanchez.

Actually, Lewis is better than Sanchez."

Lee and Lincecum are true aces. The numbers support Lee this season, but both pitchers are capable of throwing a dominating game. In game five of the ALDS, Lee pitched a complete game, giving up one run, striking out 11, issuing zero walks and giving up no home runs. In game one of the NLDS, Lincecum pitched a complete game shut out, striking out 14 and walking one batter. We know what these former Cy Young winners are capable of doing on any given game.

It's the other pitchers I am interested in comparing.

C.J. Wilson: 129 ERA+, 4.1 bb/9, 7.5 so/9, 1.83 so/bb, 0.4 hr/9, 4.6 bWAR, 204.0 innings pitched

Colby Lewis: 116 ERA+, 2.9 bb/9, 8.8 so/9, 3.02 so/bb, 0.9 hr/9, 3.6 bWAR, 201.0 innings pitched

Matt Cain: 130 ERA+, 2.5 bb/9, 7.1 so/9, 2.90 so/bb, 0.9 hr/9, 3.9 bWAR, 223.1 innings pitched

Jonathan Sanchez: 133 ERA+, 4.5 bb/9, 9.5 so/9, 2.14 so/bb, 1.0 hr/9, 3.4 bWAR, 193.1 innings pitched

After looking at the numbers, they are all pretty similar so he was correct in his comparisons. It is also important to note that ERA+ is league adjusted and not adjusted for all of major league baseball. He was absolutely correct in saying that Lewis is better than Sanchez. Sanchez, while good, is not legit number two pitcher good. Lewis has much better control as indicated by fewer walks per nine innings. The difference in strikeouts per nine innings can be adjusted to the league differential. For instance, Lewis doesn't have the luxury of facing a pitcher a couple times through. It's pretty crazy considering Lewis wasn't pitching in the states last year.

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