Apr 182011

It is not truly automated, but I have a somewhat automated way to generate report cards, which takes only a couple of hours instead of weeks. So I present the report cards for the first few weeks of the season, for your interest.

A few observations:

There are quite a few A++++ rotations after 15 or so games. Oakland and Philly you would sort of expect, and Texas was good last year, though they lost Lee. The Cardinals were supposed to tank, losing Wainwright, but not so far. And Cleveland, and the suburb of Los Angeles? Not high on my list. And last but far from least, what’s up with the Strasburg-less Nationals? Of their 5 starters, only 5th starter Tom Gorzelanny has been bad (0-1 5.56, and even he deserves to be 1-1 by my metric) while the others have ERAs of 2.45, 2.88, 3.26 and 3.38.

The perception that the Red Sox woes are primarily pitching are correct: the hitters are rated B+ but both ends of the pitching are rated F. Theirs is not the worst rotation in baseball, but it IS bad, and theirs is not the worst bullpen in baseball, but it is bad, too. The combination gives them a horrible runs allowed situation, and the hitting has not been good enough to overcome it.

Speaking of overcoming poor pitching, the Yankees DO own the WORST rotation in baseball at this point in the season! Yes, I know that Sabathia has been beefed, but he has two mediocre games, on decent game, and one excellent game, so he has not been dominant. And Burnett is 3-0 but his GS of 57, 50, 46 do not impress. And, of course, Hughes has been awful and Nova not much better. But unlike the Red Sox, the Yankees have an excellent bullpen, and their hitting has been the best in the game, to date. They have been held to fewer than 3 runs only once all season, and to exactly 3 runs only once. They are winning with good hitting and a good bullpen, despite awful starting pitching.

One way to look at “excellence across the board” is to ask the question, which team has the best “lowest grade” – like a school report card, you can say “my lowest grade was a B+”. That team, if I didn’t miss someone, is the World Champion Giants, whose grades are B+, B+, B+. Oddly, that translates into only an 8-7 record, which would grade out at B-. This is due to the granularity of the data at this early, too-small-sample-size data: 8-7 is B-, 9-6 is A – there IS no B+ with 15 games played.

Anyway, enjoy!

Actual Hitters Starters Relievers
Team W L W L Grade W L Grade Games Rating Grade
Arizona 6 8 7 7 C 5.5 8.5 F 46 2 D
Atlanta 7 9 5.5 10.5 F 9.5 6.5 A 50 21 A++
Baltimore 6 8 6 8 D- 7 7 C 37 8 B
Boston 4 10 8 6 B+ 5.5 8.5 F 42 -1 F
Chicago Cubs 7 8 9.5 5.5 A+ 5.75 9.25 F 49 9 C+
Chicago Sox 7 8 9 6 A 8.25 6.75 B 41 -5 F
Cleveland 11 4 8 7 B- 11.25 3.75 A++++++ 39 17 A++
Cincinnati 9 6 9.5 5.5 A+ 8.75 6.25 A- 46 18 A+
Colorado 12 3 11 4 A+++++ 8.5 6.5 B+ 54 21 A+
Detroit 7 9 8 8 C 8 8 C 44 13 A-
Florida 8 6 6.5 7.5 D+ 7 7 C 48 25 A++++
Houston 5 11 8 8 C 7.5 8.5 D+ 53 2 D
Kansas City 10 5 9 6 A 8 7 B- 45 10 B
suburb of LA 10 5 7.5 7.5 C 11.5 3.5 A+++++++ 47 18 A+
Los Angeles 7 9 6 10 F 7.25 8.75 D 43 -3 F
Milwaukee 7 8 7 8 D+ 8.5 6.5 B+ 45 3 D+
Minnesota 5 10 3.5 11.5 F 7 8 D+ 46 5 C-
NY Mets 5 11 8 8 C 5.75 10.25 F 56 8 C
NY Yankees 9 5 10.5 3.5 A++++++ 5.75 8.25 F 44 14 A
Oakland 8 8 7.5 8.5 D+ 12 4 A++++++ 40 4 C-
Philadelphia 10 4 7 7 C 9.75 4.25 A++++ 37 17 A+++
Pittsburgh 7 8 6.5 8.5 D- 7.25 7.75 C- 48 11 B
San Diego 7 8 5 10 F 9 6 A 49 24 A+++
San Francisco 8 7 8.5 6.5 B+ 8.5 6.5 B+ 53 15 B+
Seattle 5 11 5 11 F 8.25 7.75 C+ 36 3 D+
St. Louis 8 8 7.5 8.5 D+ 10.25 5.75 A++ 43 -3 F
Texas 10 5 8.5 6.5 B+ 10.25 4.75 A+++ 35 8 B
Tampa Bay 6 9 4 11 F 8.25 6.75 B 48 5 C-
Toronto 7 8 8 7 B- 9 6 A 51 12 B
Washington 8 7 8.5 6.5 B+ 10.5 4.5 A++++ 51 9 C+

5 Responses to “Report Cards as of 4/17”

  1. Awesome! I know the Mets have suffered from HORRIBLE outfield play, that hasn’t been tagged as errors, which would make the pitching stats look worse. I’m actually surprised that the bullpen pulled out a C as they’ve cost the Mets at least as much as the starters. Bay comes back this week, which will boost the offense, but Chris Young goes to the DL. I hope they can make it a more interesting season because it would stink to be done playing meaningful baseball in April.

    • The Mets bullpen by pitcher (in order of most innings pitched in relief): Beato A+, Buchholz B+, Parnell F, Boyer F, Carrasco C+, Rodriguez C+, Byrdak C, Igarashi A+, Isringhausen A, Misch A+, Capuano F, Dickey A+. So to some degree the pitchers that have done the best are NOT the ones the Mets have brought in for critical situations, which probably accounts for your perspective that they aren’t even as good as the rating. I actually have every pitcher, his appearances, innings, ERA, effective, etc. but I didn’t want to overwhelm the reader with that level of detail.

  2. Still looks like hitting is down across the league, no? Though one thing I have been wondering- Does one group have the advantage in early-season baseball, pitchers or hitters? I feel like I have heard the knife of common sense cut both ways. It reminds me of a psycholgy professor I had at BYU who said that social psychology is a science where all its findings cause the learner to think “Hey, I knew that already. Everybody knows that.” It is the science of common sense, and yet, as he explained, common sense really covers all its bases and tells you that both hitters and pitchers have an advantage in April. It seems like hitters have an advantage as pitchers get their arms stretched out. And yet, in the cold in the eastern part of the country, pitchers have an advantage until they can’t grip the ball. Anyway, this information is probably already out there, and my guess is that you know about it already.

    • Something that I should have done, but didn’t, was to total the hitter’s results, by number of runs scored in each game, and give a “Grade” for MLB as a whole – is the league still a “C”? (It should be, as that is the basis of the calculation). In other words, using the formula that gave C to an “average” team last year, does this work so far this year, or is the hitting better or worse (so far) than it was last year. That would help answer your question. The calculation, when done, gives MLB a record of 223.5-228.5 which is .494 and a C. As close as such things get, the level of scoring is essentially exactly where it was and season’s end a year ago. Starters deserve, by this metric, 249.25-202.75 .551 which is a B, and relievers have scored 290 out of 1366, also a B. So my metrics don’t work (I knew that) perfectly together: I need to fix the pitching ratings slightly to make the league a C (this was true last year, as well): the average GS, which had historically been between 48.5 and 49 was up to something like 50.4 last year, which doesn’t seem like much but skews the numbers. Relief success was similarly up, so last year’s report cards came out Hitters C, Starters B-, Relievers B- and that trend is evident here, as well.

      One thought I had, which preserves the nature of the rating but adjusts things slightly would be not to lump the mediocre and decent starts together, but give credit for each point. Something like: (GS – 40) * .05 is the value of the start, so 41 would be .05 and 59 would be .95 of a win, with 60 or over being a full win. The nice thing about this is that you can play with it – if the GS continues to rise, you can change (say) 40 to 41, so 42 is .05 and 60 is .95 – you can adjust back to average being a C. It is even easier, in theory, on the relief side, as I have created a completely arbitrary scale for grading, based on rating/appearances, and I can adjust this scale at will.

      Once all three ratings are properly centered on a C grade, then it will be easier to trust what they are telling us. What do you all think?

  3. I like your idea about the pitching grades. It seems like sound thinking to me.

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