Last week’s post pointed out that both the bullpen and the starters for the 2010 Phils posted a winning percentage that was .109 higher than the average winning percentage for a National League pen and rotation. The thing that seems odd about that, of course, is that the starters were great in 2010 and the bullpen was mediocre. Shouldn’t the winning percentage for the starters have been a lot better than the winning percentage for the pen, given that they shared the same excellent offense?

Whether we think the winning percentage for the relievers should have been worse or not, it wasn’t. The pen had a record of 27-17, a .614 winning percentage. The Phils had a better winning percentage in games where the pen got the decision than they did overall (97-65 overall, for a .599 winning percentage) or in the games where their starter got the decision (.593).

Given how small the number of decisions the bullpen got in 2010, a fluke seems like the best guess as to why the winning percentage was so good. The .614 winning percentage for the bullpen was third-best in the NL last year. By runs allowed per nine innings, the Phils were the eighth-best team at preventing runs. Was the difference in the ranking of the win percentage and the ranks allowed per nine innings unusual? Not really.

The table below shows the rank for runs allowed per nine innings pitched for the 16 NL teams this year, the team’s rank in that category, the bullpen winning percentage rank and the difference between the two:

Team Pen R per 9 IP Rank R per 9 IP Bullpen WPCT Rank BP WPCT Rank Difference
San Diego
San Francisco
Atlanta
Washington
NY Mets
St. Louis
Cincinnati
Philadelphia
LA Dodgers
Colorado
Florida
Houston
Milwaukee
Pittsburgh
Chicago Cubs
Arizona
3.01
3.22
3.61
3.76
3.78
3.91
4.09
4.23
4.23
4.31
4.44
4.70
4.85
4.97
5.57
6.29
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
0.600
0.674
0.627
0.482
0.491
0.474
0.557
0.614
0.581
0.481
0.405
0.511
0.463
0.523
0.357
0.333
4
1
2
10
9
12
6
3
5
11
14
8
13
7
15
16
3
-1
-1
6
4
6
-1
-5
-4
1
3
-4
0
-7
0
0

So the Phils had the eighth-best bullpen in the league by runs allowed per nine innings pitched, but the third best winning percentage. That’s a difference of five. There were three NL teams that had a bigger difference between the rankings of their runs allowed per nine innings and winning percentages. The Nats and Cardinals both had good pens with bad winning percentages. The Pirates had a miserable pen at preventing runs, but saw their relievers combine to post a 23-21 record (it wasn’t really enough to make up for the hide-your-eyes 34-84 put up by their starting pitching).

Here’s the table for the starters:

Team SP R per 9 IP Rank R per 9 IP SP WPCT Rank SP WPCT Rank Difference
San Francisco
Philadelphia
San Diego
St. Louis
Atlanta
NY Mets
Cincinnati
LA Dodgers
Chicago Cubs
Houston
Florida
Colorado
Arizona
Milwaukee
Washington
Pittsburgh
3.76
3.84
3.91
4.00
4.09
4.17
4.32
4.36
4.42
4.49
4.51
4.56
4.79
5.13
5.20
5.86
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
0.526
0.593
0.541
0.548
0.532
0.486
0.564
0.462
0.500
0.452
0.525
0.527
0.430
0.481
0.396
0.288
7
1
4
3
5
10
2
12
9
13
8
6
14
11
15
16
6
-1
1
-1
0
4
-5
4
0
3
-3
-6
1
-3
0
0

By runs allowed per nine innings pitched, the Phillies had the second-best rotation in 2010. The 70-48 mark put up by their starters gave them a league-best .593 winning percentage for the rotation. The teams that showed the biggest differences between the ranks of their winning percentage and runs allowed per nine innings pitched were the Giants, Reds and Rockies. The Giants had fantastic pitching, the best in the league, and an unimpressive offense that finished ninth in the NL in runs scored. The Reds and the Rockies are the other two teams that had the biggest differences between the rank of their runs allowed per nine innings pitched for their starters and the winning percentage for their starters. For each of those teams, the rotation’s winning percentage was much better than their rank for runs allowed per nine innings. The Reds and Colorado finished first and the third in the league in runs scored — Cincinnati led the league in runs scored and the Rockies finished third, just behind the Phils.

Here’s how the winning percentage for starters and relievers compare to the overall winning percentage for the team for each of the NL teams last season:

Team Team WPCT Pen WPCT SP WPCT Pen WPCT – Tm WPCT SP WPCT – Tm WPCT
Philadelphia
San Francisco
Atlanta
Cincinnati
San Diego
St. Louis
Colorado
Florida
LA Dodgers
NY Mets
Milwaukee
Houston
Chicago Cubs
Washington
Arizona
Pittsburgh
0.599
0.568
0.562
0.562
0.556
0.531
0.512
0.494
0.494
0.488
0.475
0.469
0.463
0.426
0.401
0.352
0.614
0.674
0.627
0.557
0.600
0.474
0.481
0.405
0.581
0.491
0.463
0.511
0.357
0.482
0.333
0.523
0.593
0.526
0.532
0.564
0.541
0.548
0.527
0.525
0.462
0.486
0.481
0.452
0.500
0.396
0.430
0.288
0.015
0.106
0.065
-0.005
0.044
-0.057
-0.031
-0.089
0.087
0.003
-0.012
0.042
-0.106
0.056
-0.068
0.171
-0.006
-0.042
-0.030
0.002
-0.015
0.017
0.015
0.031
-0.032
-0.002
0.006
-0.017
0.037
-0.030
0.029
-0.064

Using the Phillies as the example, the way to interpret the table above is that the Phils overall played to a .599 winning percentage last year, the winning percentage for their relievers was .614 and the winning percentage for their starters was .593. The bullpen winning percentage was .015 higher than the winning percentage overall for the team and the winning percentage for the starting pitchers was .006 lower than the overall winning percentage for the team.

The table shows that the Pirates were the team whose bullpen winning percentage was better than the overall winning percentage for their team by the largest margin (followed not so closely by the Giants). At the other end of the scale, the Cubs had the bullpen winning percentage that was worse than their overall team winning percentage by the most.

It was the also the Cubs who had the biggest positive gap between the winning percentage for their starters and the team overall. As was mentioned above, the Pirates starting pitchers threw to a miserable record. Pittsburgh had the biggest negative gap between the winning percentage for their starting pitchers and their team overall.

Back to the Phillies, though. The point about the Phillies is that both the difference between their winning percentage for the starting pitchers and the winning percentage for the bullpen are very small. If you take the absolute value of each of the differences, only three teams, the Mets, Brewers and Reds, had a smaller difference between the winning percentage for the bullpen and the winning percentage for the team. Only two teams, the Mets and the Reds, had a smaller difference between the winning percentage for the rotation and the winning percentage for the team. If you combine the absolute values of both, there are three teams with a smaller combined difference (Mets, Reds, Brewers). So while it is a bit surprising that the Phillies got such an impressive winning percentage out of a so-so bullpen, it may be even more remarkable that the both of their winning percentages were so similar to the team’s winning percentage overall.

In this Q&A from the Phillies web site, Todd Zolecki suggests that it might make sense for the Phils to keep Blanton in case Oswalt is not back in 2012. Blanton will make $8.5 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012.

Manuel talks about the possibility that John Mayberry would start the year with the team here. I’m enthusiastic about the runs like a deer part, but less so about the .330 career on-base percentage in the minor leagues. Mayberry turned 27 in December.

Domonic Brown was fourth on the recent list of the top 50 prospects by MLB.com. He also hits left-handed, unlike Ben Francisco, and can play the outfield, unlike Ross Gload. Also runs like a deer and without the .330 career on-based percentage in the minors (.373, for the record). My concern about what the Phillies are doing in right field is that everything seems to be based on the idea of finding a stopgap in the short term to get to Brown shortly after the season starts. If Brown is ready to play regularly soon after the season starts, I don’t think it matters a whole ton what the combination of Francisco, Mayberry and Gload man right until he does. What if he’s not, though? And how much difference is another couple of weeks or months in the minors going to make? A whole season of Francisco, Gload and Mayberry in right would combine to put up some ugly numbers. If Gload has to play defense regularly in right, they would put up some real ugly defensive numbers as well.