If the Phillies had their lives to live over I’m hoping there’s at least one thing that they would have done differently about the 2007 season. They just let Adam Eaton pitch and pitch and he wound up with a line that was ridiculous. He went into the All-Star break with a 5.69 ERA and just got worse in the second half, making 12 second-half starts in which he threw to a 7.38 ERA. He ended the season with a 6.29 ERA in, amazingly, 30 starts. Over the past seven seasons only one other NL player has thrown to a worse ERA in a year he got at least 30 starts. Eric Milton threw to a 6.47 ERA with the Reds in 34 starts in 2005. The Reds, you may remember, didn’t win their division in 2005. They finished fifth, 27 games out of first place in the NL Central.
I’m working towards a couple of points and it’s going to take a while to get there, so I’ll just tell you what they are:
1) The thing that’s worse for a team than having a pitcher having a terrible season is having a pitcher having a terrible season who pitches a lot.
2) The Phillies off-season has been pretty unexciting. But the biggest problem the Phillies has doesn’t require a bold off-season move as a remedy. Thirty starts from Adam Eaton with a 6.29 ERA is the biggest problem the Phillies have to solve for 2008, and the solution for that may even be Adam Eaton. And if it’s not, it’s hard to believe that improving on that is going to require a move that knocks anybody’s socks off.
The Phillies used 28 pitchers in 2007. As a group they got 4,375 outs and were charged with 821 runs.
Obviously, some pitchers pitched more than others and some allowed more runs than others. Here’s how many outs each of the 28 pitchers got (the column to the far right is outs by that pitcher over outs by the team (4,375)):
So Jamie Moyer, at the top of the list, got 598 outs. 598/4,375 is .13669, which also means that Moyer got about 13.7% of the outs recorded by Phillies’ hurlers. The numbers in the far right column add up to one.
And here’s how many runs each of the pitchers allowed (the number on the far right is runs allowed by that pitcher over the total runs allowed by the team (821)):
Likewise, Moyer was charged with 118 of the 821 runs surrendered by Phillies’ pitchers. 118/821 is .14373, or about 14.4%. The numbers in the far right column again add up to one.
So, sticking with Moyer, we know he was charged with 14.4% of the runs allowed by the Phillies while getting 13.7% of the outs.
Here’s the difference between outs and runs for each of the pitchers:
Here are the Phillies pitchers from last season that got a percentage of the team’s total outs that was higher than the percentage of the team’s total runs that they allowed:
That’s a pretty short list, including just eight of the 28 pitchers who saw time for the Phils overall. It also includes Bisenius, who threw just two innings.
And here are the pitchers that gave up a higher percentage of the team’s runs than the percentage of the team’s out they got:
And here’s how the list looks from top to bottom:
It wasn’t surprising to me that Eaton’s name was at the bottom of the list. What is hard to ignore is how big his number, -0.03165, is compared to the other players on the team. The fact that Eaton hurt the Phillies a lot in ’07 is impossible to deny. The thing that’s harder to know is if the Phillies killed themselves by letting Eaton pitch and pitch or if he pitched and pitched because he was the pitcher available to them that gave them the best chance to win, despite the miserable results.
Whether it was a mistake or not, and I think it was, the Phillies are almost assuredly not going to do the same thing in 2008. It’s almost impossible to imagine them giving Eaton another 30 starts in which he is as ineffective. The Phillies won their division last season while giving 30 starts to a guy with a 6.29 ERA — that should concern the other teams in the division because it’s a big problem that should be easy to fix. Chances are good the Eaton is far more effective in 2008 than he was in 2007. Even if he isn’t, it’s almost certain that the Phillies will start giving the ball to someone else really soon and there chances of coming up with better production seem very good even without a move that catches people’s attention.