When Even Is Odd

Our vibe is that there are two camps in the NL CY Young battle. One claims Carpenter is the frontrunner primarily by virtue of his lower ERA – and to a lesser extent – his better WHIP and K/BB ratio. The other camp sees the top candidates as "dead even" – the above statistical advantages essentially cancelled out by Webb’s "extra" win

What neither analysis accounts for is that the Cardinals ace has established his Carpenternumbers under more favorable conditions.

First,  Webb pitches half his games in MLB’s third best hitter’s park whereas new Busch currently ranks 24thChase enables 16-20% more runs(1.112/.937 = 18.6%) than Busch. When one adjusts for the parks(by chopping off half of that 16-20% – for home starts only), Webb’s adjusted ERA drops below CC’s impressive 2.79.

Chris is still the best home hurler(1.46 home ERA) by a considerable margin, even after park adjustments, which pare his sizable ERA advantage down to about half a run per game in real terms. Still significant, but not as much as the two aces road disparity. Scalesuneven_1

Pitching in a variety of road parks, Webb’s ERA(3.35) is a full run lower than Carpenter(4.52). That real difference is about twice that of the park adjusted home ERAs. Even that road dominance, however, isn’t Webb’s most compelling claim over Carpenter, nor is the fact that he plays with a slightly weaker supporting cast than does the defending CY Award winner.

Most significantly, Webb has battled all year against stronger competition – primarily due to the unbalanced schedule and the fact that the NL Central has suppplanted the NL West as MLB’s weakest division. The league’s two weakest teams are the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. Brandon has pitched against each team once, beating both. Chris has pitched against these doormats eight times, going 5-1!

What about the NL’s top shelf? In late May, Brandon pitched 7 shutout innings at Shea to earn a no decision against Pedro. A week later he faced Beltran & Boys at Chase – 8 innings, 1 earned run – and picked up a loss for his trouble. Now constrast that with Carpenter’s exploits against the league’s juggernaut.  In the first game at Shea, Chris…what’s that? Carpenter didnt pitch against the Mets all year? Oh. Well then, maybe we can examine how he did against the Dodgers and Padres – the two next best teams(based on current record). Against San Diego, Chris..what’s that? He didnt pitch against San Diego either. Oh. Webb faced them three times. WebbgrimaceEach candidate faced the Dodgers once, pitched well, and won their respective game. In sum, versus the league’s best, Webb made six starts (seven if you include his one hitter against the Cards) and Carpenter made one.

One.

Both pitchers are scheduled to start tomorrow, Thursday, Sept 21. Rest assured, we will hear about what an amazingly tight race this is, and how the award result hinges on the next couple of starts. What appears to be a dead heat, however, is so only on the surface. Brandon Webb, pitching in a disadvantageous park, on a lesser team, against demonstrably superior competition has clearly outperformed Chris Carpenter to date, and barring a monumental letdown, should win the Cy Young Award.

8 Comments

I don’t have a vote on this one but considering what there is to work with in ’06, Zambrano shouldn’t be dismissed. Similar numbers and just consider the club he has had to work with this season. That’s a heckuva 15-6 in this particular year. Anyway, I have a feeling that Thursday will decide it. Or wherever someone is flipping a coin or drawing straws out of 16-win agony. Bigger question is whether anyone in the NL has had a Cy Young season, as you’ve noted previously.

Mark,

Thx for your comment

Zambrano’s 15 W’s for the Cubs is an eye opener, but his park adj. ERA is a little higher, zero shutouts, hasnt completed a game all year. Carpenter/Webb are 1,2 in NL WHIP; Carlos is 17th. Z’s had an excellent year, but I think falls a bit short for the CYA. Oswalt probably has a better dark horse case.

[Anyway, I have a feeling that Thursday will decide it.]

Me too – and I think that’s a shame.

As far as anyone having a CY season, my previous posts about lack of league leaders’ wins meant to highlight that the NL’s parity is undermining the possibility of a 20 game winner, not to disparage individual pitchers(well, except for Tracshel and Marquis), or the league’s pitching as a whole. There are several guys pitching great, none moreso than Webb.

Hey, great post! My money’s still on Carpenter (obviously) just as much as I expect you to back Webb. But, I still very much enjoyed reading well-thought out reasons why Webb should be given the award. I think Mark should put your post for Webb and my post for Carpenter as the next featured blogs on mlblogs.com, don’t you?!

Definitely looking forward to watching both guys pitch tonight.

Tiffany

http://redbirdfever.mlblogs.com/

Hola Tiffany,

Your 9/12 post on Carp was actually an inspiration to explore these issues myself.

[I think Mark should put your post for Webb and my post for Carpenter as the next featured blogs on mlblogs.com, don’t you?!]

You read my mind! I think we got a shot at the big board unless David Wright develops a hangnail ;-)

Thx for stopping by – and the kind words.

Tiffany’s case for Carpenter is here(scroll towards bottom of the post):

http://redbirdfever.mlblogs.com/my_weblog/2006/09/who_would_recei.html

It’d be funny if Webb, Carpenter and Zambrano split the vote and someone like Trevor Hoffman gets picked near the top of everyone’s ballot and wins the award by a point or two. Pedro Martinez lost out on an MVP because the Yankees beat writer refused to name him in his top ten. Webb should win; but that doesn’t mean he will.

Hoffman is a wildcard, but only via the Lifetime Achievement scenario you outlined earlier. His 2006 is largely indistinguishable from Wagner’s, in fact one could easily argue Wagner had the better year. And with 5 blown saves, Trevor’s season doesnt rise to the level normally associated with CYA winning closers.

But,as you say, he’ll likely tie or break the Career Saves mark next week, which ESPN will be all over like white on rice, influencing some voters. Others may mistakenly discount the starters’ relatively low win totals as well, which would also favor Hoffman, and which I think would be another mistake.

The win totals are low this year because the top candidates haven’t enjoyed very good support, not because they havent pitched extremely well. Carpenter’s got 15 starts with one run or less and he has only 15 wins to show for it. Webb’s made 21 quality starts, and lost several others when Bob Melvin was afraid to use his pen after Webb was clearly spent. Either guy has pitched better than a bunch of previous CY winners.

Matt,
Hmm….neither of our boys pitched well enough last night to get the win and the NL Cy Young debate will rage on.

Glad to hear you stopped by the blog (and found something there worth arguing against in your blog!), but next time leave me a comment, so I know!

I only found this post through Kellia’s blog or I would have had no idea.

Tiffany

http://redbirdfever.mlblogs.com

Tiffany,

“…next time leave me a comment”.

I will! Thx for the invite…and the link :-)

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