Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011 League Championship Series - Best Pitchers*

* according to Bill James' Game Score

And the WINNER is...


SHOCKER…yes, I am quite surprised, but it’s true. By a little more than a nose, yes. I need to give him a break, I suppose…I have been heckling the Wolfman a little more than usual these days.

Before we start this round of jousting, let’s review Bill James' Game Score real quick.

In case you didn't know, "Game Score" is a neat and easy and FUN way to look at a starting pitcher's line in a Box Score and apply a basic formula on the stats to come up with a fundamental 'score' that "determines the strength of a pitcher in any particular baseball game.
To determine a starting pitcher's game score:

1.Start with 50 points.
2.Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
3.Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
4.Add 1 point for each strikeout.
5.Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
6.Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
7.Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
8.Subtract 1 point for each walk.
The maximum possible score in a 9-inning game with no baserunners allowed is 114, but of course this is possible only if the starting pitcher goes nine innings, strikes out every single batter he faces, and faces no more than 3 batters per inning. The exception to this gets a little hairy mathematically, but is never impossible...because this is baseball.

FYI, the highest game score for a 9-inning game in the history of baseball happened on May 6, 1998, when Kerry "Kid K" Wood famously struck out 20 Astros at Wrigley Field. Yowsah, that Game Score was 105.

So I thought it would be a "hoot" to compile Game Score for all SP during the postseason; I started this at the close of the League Division Series; you can review the LDS results at this post. Now that the League Championship Series is over and we’re going to the WORLD SERIES...here are the LCS results, and the top 5 winners:

Randy Wolf (62) 10/13/11 MIL @ STL NLCS G4
Doug Fister (59) 10/11/11 TEX @ DET ALCS G3
Rick Porcello (54) 10/12/11 TEX @ DET ALCS G4
Max Scherzer (53) 10/10/11 DET @ TEX ALCS G2 - TIE
Matt Harrison (53) 10/12/11 TEX @ DET ALCS G4 - TIE

Quite a change, overall in the top 5 scores themselves, compared to the LDS top 5 (range was 84-72 in the LDS top 5). Right off the top of my head, I would imagine that one contributing factor in the difference in overall scores was more or less attributable to the ‘clinch pitching change’ tactic employed by each of the 4 teams playing in the series, particularly in those crucial Game 6 situations. In the LDS, 38 starting pitchers worked an average of 5.71 innings (or, more accurately in baseball math: 5.2 innings). In the LCS, 24 starting pitchers worked an average of 4.8 innings (again, 4.2 innings in baseball math). So this off-the-cuff theory could have some weight.

Another wacky reality: Randy Wolf had the lowest score among the 38 SP in the LDS. Uh-huh.

Other interesting notes I made, regarding the top 5:
Only 1 NL pitcher appeared in the top 5 (Wolf, at number 1)
The top 3 pitchers earned their scores at home (Wolf, Fister, Porcello)
3 of the top 5 (the bottom 3, in fact) earned “No Decisions” as SP
Of those 3, both teams were the Detroit Tigers and both times the Tigers lost the game
Only 1 SP in the top 5 saw his team advance to the World Series (Harrison)
No Cardinals pitchers made the top 5
Two of the top 5 scores were from SP in the same game (10/12/11 TEX @ DET ALCS G4)

In general (all 24 pitchers with starts in the LCS):
Lowest score – Max Scherzer (20) 10/15/11 DET @ TEX ALCS G6
Lowest score, 4 innings minimum – Jaime Garcia (26) 10/9/11 STL @ MIL NLCS G1
Lowest score by a winning pitcher – Zack Greinke (36) 10/9/11 STL @ MIL NLCS G1
Average Game Score by SP in the 2011 LDS: 41.41

I will now officially revoke my honorary Randy “ERA” Wolf nickname. Until next year.

For now…#HappyFlight

You can review my work on the spreadsheet on Google Docs.

I will continue to tally the Game Score for the World Series, and post the results when that FINAL phase of the postseason is over. Then we can look at a Postseason Sweepstakes review…who will win it all??

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
(I am @yoshiki89), and also please leave a comment!

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