Just wanted to start by saying that there was a point about the Phillies coming. I mean, not today, but it’s coming.
Whether you call it ratio or WHIP, thanks to fantasy baseball, most fans are familiar with the idea of hits plus walks over innings pitched.
There’s a big limitation to that stat, of course, and that’s that not all hits are the same. The context in which an inning is pitched or a walk is given might make it more important than another inning pitched or walk, but what an inning pitched or a walk means doesn’t change. That’s not that case with hits — a hit can be a single, a double, a triple or a home run. That’s part of why pitchers with the same ratio (or WHIP) can have dramatically different results.
For example, take the case of two NL pitchers from the 2009 season, San Diego righty Josh Geer and the Nats lefty hand breaker John Lannan. Both had threw to the same 1.35 ratio in 2009, but with hugely different results:
Same ratio, but Lannan’s ERA is more than two runs lower than Geer’s despite the fact that Geer was much better at preventing walks. Was Geer unlucky? Maybe he was, but the bigger deal was that the hits that Geer gave up were way worse than the hits that Lannan gave up. And ratio (or WHIP) doesn’t care because it treats all hits the same.
I think ratio is a nifty stat mostly because lots of people understand what it means and can quickly interpret that a 1.18 ratio is really good and a 1.58 ratio is pretty bad. Counting all hits the same is pretty limiting, though. They aren’t the same. Let’s look at Geer and Lannan again, and instead of using ratio ((hits + walks)/IP), let’s look at their total bases allowed plus walks over innings pitched in ’09:
The point here isn’t that Lannan didn’t give up a lot of extra-base hits. He did. Only one player in the NL allowed more doubles than the 50 he gave up. The point is that Geer gave up more (53 in 102 2/3 or about .516 XBH per inning for Geer compared to 75 in 206 1/3 innings or about .363 per inning for Lannan) and that the extra-base hits that Geer gave up were worse than the extra-base hits that Lannan gave up. You can tell that by seeing that Geer allowed five more homers than Lannan in 103 2/3 fewer innings. The average extra-base hit yielded by Geer went for 3.08 bases while the average extra-base hit yielded by Lannan went for 2.63 bases. The difference between the severity of the hit that was allowed isn’t reflected by ratio, but it is if you replace it hits with total bases in the formula.
Jamie Moyer had a fantastic outing on Friday at the Phils topped the Yankees 3-0. Moyer allowed one hit and didn’t walk a batter over 6 2/3 innings, dropping his official spring ERA to 0.77. Victorino was 2-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs for the Phils.
I’m going to be very surprised if Moyer isn’t in the rotation at the start of the season.
Hamels didn’t fare as well on Saturday as the Phils fell to the Twins 8-4. Hamels allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings. His ERA for the spring is up to 5.57. Contreras had a rough outing in the game as well, allowing three runs in 2/3 of an inning. Jim Thome connected for a two-run homer off of Contreras. Dobbs homered for the Phils and Francisco, Schneider and Castro all had two hits.
The Phillies and Pirates were rained out yesterday.
The Phillies sent John Mayberry to minor league camp yesterday. Mayberry hit 289/349/447 this spring and will be presumably be back the first time the Phillies need an outfielder or bench player. The linked article also says that Ibanez would not have played in yesterday’s game if it had not been rained out due to a bruise on his right arm.
Madson will be the Phillies closer to start the season.