Thursday, July 07, 2005

State of the Angels - Part III.II

After taking a look at how the Angels' hitters did so far this season compared to the predictions made by the Baseball Think Factory, I'll now check how the pitchers have fared so far.

Jarrod Washburn (3.06 ERA, 5-3)
Expected: 4.60 ERA, 13-10
Jarrod Washburn is having a quite bizarre season. On the one hand, his ERA is excellent, 4th in the league (he pushed Colon back to 5th place) and he also has the 4th best PR or RSAA (pitching runs or runs saved above average) in the AL with 21, which means that opponents would have score 21 more runs had an average pitcher pitched Washburn's inning instead of himself.
On the other had, his secondary stats are only average at best.
Only 4.7 K/9, which is the worst rate on the Angels staff (if you don't count Prinz and Bootcheck, who have 3 games each) and 39th in the AL.
He allows 2.65 BB/9, which is decent, but not great (29th AL). And Washburn allows more than one hit per inning (118 H in 106 IP), which adds up to a WHIP of 1.41 (35th AL). He doesn't even keep the ball in the park especially well, giving up an average 1.03 dingers in nine innings (12 HR total). He's also hit relatively hard, giving up line drives on 18.9% of his balls in play. Batters facing Washburn hit .290, with an OBP of .345 and .437 SLG. Which is about what Shannon Stewart (.294, .342, .431) has done this year.
Wherever I look, I see only average numbers indicating that Washburn's ERA should be about a run higher (at least).
So what's the reason that it's still so low?
First, Washburn has been helped by the defense behing him. A lot! His FIP (Fielded Independend Pitching, i.e. his ERA with an average defense) is 4.50!!! So if Washburn played, let's say, for the Yankees, his ERA would be 1.50 runs higher.
However, Washburn actually has a relatively high BAIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) of .287 (33th), so where's the defense?
First, nobody has stolen a base of Washburn this year yet. All four baserunners attempting a steal were gunned down. Second, and probably more important, Washburn already had 17 double plays turned behind him (3rd in the league). All the other pitchers with 14 or more DP have groundball to flyball ratios of 1.63, 1.32, 2.02, 1.46 and 2.25, while Washburn's is 1.07. I'm not sure whether this means that Washburn has been lucky or that he really knows how to get a DP when he needs one.

One last thing though. Here are two splits from Washburn:
.331, .377, .515 and
.269, .329, .399
No, these are not his righty-lefty splits, though they are quite similar (.298, .356, .467 to .254, .289, .296), these are his home-away splits. And that's no unusual for him. He has better numbers pitching away at least since 2002 (I don't have stats for '01 and earlier). I have no explanation for this other than that Washburn might feel more pressure pitching in front of his hometown fans. Whatever the reason might be, I just hope that Mike Scioscia keeps these numbers in mind when he arranges the postseason rotation.

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