Sunday, April 23, 2006

WBC and Pitching - Part 1

Offense has been explosive in April so far this year. Guys like Pujols, Thome, Shelton, Ensberg, and Gomes are tearing pitchers up at an astounding rate. Home runs are up over 15%. Only four teams are managing ERAs below 4.00. Teams like Atlanta, Oakland, Minnesota, Cleveland and Toronto have seen their should-be amazing pitching staffs torn up by this offense. All five clubs have a team ERA over 5.00.

The World Baseball Classic has been a common area of blame for this offensive explosion. The logic is that pitchers did not get their usual supply of Spring Training innings, and therefore were a step behind the more ready hitters when the season began. So, I decided to do some original research.

I took the 22 starting pitches from the rosters of the US, Dominican, Venezeulan, Puerto Rican, Panamanian, and Korean WBC teams and gave them a rating. I mostly did this by eye. If a pitcher currently has an ERA exceeding his career norm by 3/4 of a run or better, I rated him "Exceeding", if his ERA is generally in line with career norms I rated him "Average" and if he is performing poorly, I rated him "Worse". Here are the results.

Name Exceeding Average Worse
Jake Peavy

Dontrelle Willis 0 1 0
Javy Vazquez 0 1 0
Johan Santana 0 0 1
Joel Pineiro 1 0 0
Danny Cabrera 0 0 1
Bartolo Colon 0 0 1
Jorge Sosa 0 0 1
Miguel Batista 0 0 1
Odalis Perez 0 1 0
Bruce Chen 0 0 1
Freddy Garcia 0 0 1
Carlos Silva 0 0 1
VictorZambrano 0 0 1
CarlosZambrano 0 1 0
Kelvim Escobar 0 1 0
Gustavo Chacin 0 0 1
Erik Bedard 1 0 0
Jeff Francis 0 1 0
Rodrigo Lopez 0 0 1
Chan Ho Park 0 1 0
Total 2 7 12 21

9.5% 33% 57%

The results look relatively definative. Over half of the starting pitchers who participated in the WBC are off to a bad start. Not only that, but if you look at pitchers who went farther into the tournament (Venezeula, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic [USA didnt have a lot of starting pitchers who we can analyze]), they have a much better chance to have a worse start.

Interesting numbers. I'll take a look at a similar sample of non-WBC starting pitchers in the next few days to see if the trend is any different.