Sunday, November 13, 2005

Pitching Win Shares

How would the following pitchers rank from top to bottom in Win Shares? (All of these pitchers pitched in 1947.)

ERA - 1.95; WHIP - 1.135
ERA - 2.80; WHIP - 1.273
ERA - 3.56; WHIP - 1.438
ERA - 4.32; WHIP - 1.455
ERA - 3.12; WHIP - 1.462
ERA - 3.82; WHIP - 1.479
ERA - 4.97; WHIP - 1.482
ERA - 4.40; WHIP - 1.564
ERA - 3.61; WHIP - 1.639
ERA - 3.82; WHIP - 1.658
ERA - 4.85; WHIP - 1.661

What about the following group of pitchers? (Same as above - all are from 1947.)

ERA - 3.03; WHIP - 1.272
ERA - 3.77; WHIP - 1.327
ERA - 4.38; WHIP - 1.383
ERA - 3.47; WHIP - 1.417
ERA - 3.58; WHIP - 1.453
ERA - 3.89; WHIP - 1.498

Lastly, here is another group from 1947.

ERA - 3.11; WHIP - 1.315
ERA - 3.22; WHIP - 1.321
ERA - 2.97; WHIP - 1.344
ERA - 3.48; WHIP - 1.349
ERA - 3.47; WHIP - 1.392
ERA - 4.32; WHIP - 1.419
ERA - 3.81; WHIP - 1.432
ERA - 3.64; WHIP - 1.451
ERA - 3.44; WHIP - 1.478
ERA - 4.04; WHIP - 1.527

So - of course there has to be a catch. Each of the groups above has the same number of win shares. What's kind of interesting is that the first group all have five win shares, the second all have nine and the last group all have 13. The worst ERAs and WHIPs are in the first group - but the best ones are spread out between the three - and can be a difference of eight win shares. Let's link some names and more information with these ratios. (BTW - an interesting aside - I was wanting to compare on-base average against and slugging average against for each of these players, figuring that would be a great way to compare. Unfortunately, that information is not around in the online databases.)

Johnny Rigney Chi - A 1.95 ERA; 50.2 IP; 188 ERA+
Johnny Murphy Bos - A 2.80 ERA; 54.2 IP; 139 ERA+
Earl Harrist Chi - A 3.56 ERA; 93.2 IP; 103 ERA+
Joe Coleman Phi - A 4.32 ERA; 160.1 IP; 88 ERA+
Bill Dietrich Phi - A 3.12 ERA; 60.2 IP; 123 ERA+
Bill Bevens NY - A 3.82 ERA; 165 IP; 92 ERA+
Jack Kramer StL - A 4.97 ERA; 199.1 IP; 78 ERA+
Al Benton Det 4.40 ERA; 133 IP; 86 ERA+
Hal White Det 3.61 ERA; 84.2 IP; 105 ERA+
Glen Moulder StL - A 3.82 ERA; 73 IP; 102 ERA+
Monte Kennedy NY - N 4.85 ERA; 148.1 IP; 84 ERA+

Here's the second group, all with nine win shares:

Ed Klieman Cle 3.03 ERA; 92 IP; 115 ERA+
Stubby Overmire Det 3.77 ERA; 140.2 IP; 100 ERA+
Hank Borowy Chi - N 4.38 ERA; 183 IP; 90 ERA+
Tommy Hughes Phi - N 3.47 ERA; 127 IP; 116 ERA+
Cliff Fannin StL - A 3.58 ERA; 145.2 IP; 109 ERA+
Harry Gumbert Cin 3.89 ERA; 90.1 IP; 106 ERA+

Lastly, the third group, all with 13 win shares.

Harry Taylor Bkn 3.11 ERA; 162 IP; 133 ERA+
Jim Hearn StL - N 3.22 ERA; 162 IP; 129 ERA+
Earl Johnson Bos - A 2.97 ERA; 142.1 IP; 131 ERA+
Dizzy Trout Det 3.48 ERA; 186.1 IP; 109 ERA+
Sam Zoldak StL - A 3.47 ERA; 171 IP; 112 ERA+
Schoolboy Rowe Phi - N 4.32 ERA; 195.2 IP; 93 ERA+
Kirby Higbe Pit 3.81 ERA; 240.2 IP; 111 ERA+
Mickey Haefner Was 3.64 ERA; 193 IP; 103 ERA+
Bob Lemon Cle 3.44 ERA; 167.1 IP; 101 ERA+
Boo Ferriss Bos - A 4.04 ERA; 218.1 IP; 96 ERA+

To my eye, it looks like that there is a tradeoff between time on the mound and quality of time on the mound. The better you are, obviously, the more win shares. However, if you only pitch 60 innings, that is equal to a lower quality performance of 140 innings. Kind of the same question we ask for potential hall of famers - is it better to be good for a real long period of time (or number of innings during a season) or great for a shorter period of time. Which is more valuable?

The more I look at the variety of pitchers with the lower number of win shares, the less I am convinced that it is a good measuring too for the average player. For the good and great ones it is fantastic - because you don't have to worry about players with high ABs or IPs being equal to guys with great ratios. The good and great play a lot and put up fantastic ratios. It is when they are smaller, that these problems become pronounced.

Why does this trouble me? I am drafting a team of players for a keeper league starting with the 1947 season. I exclusively used win shares to determine my draft. Out of the above lists, I have Moulder, Trout, Zoldak and Ferriss. Looking at a 37 point difference between ERA+ scores or 40 points in WHIP with the same win shares has me a bit distressed about my possibilities for success. Then again, it could be that I have the highest win shares of the teams and I will succeed no matter what the other drafting strategies. That's why we simulate the games.

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