Tag:strikeouts over wins
Posted on: July 22, 2008 4:04 am
Edited on: July 22, 2008 4:05 am

Bookkeeping and the logic of strikeouts

First, we need to do a little bookkeeping. If you don't like bookkeeping and just want straight Fantasy Baseball, skip ahead to the dashed line below.

I realize I've blogged only twice since the All-Star break, and those of you accustomed to me blogging every day might find that a little disconcerting.

But you should know I haven't abandoned you. I haven't abandoned the blog. I still love it more than I suspect I'll love some of my children.

Only the bad ones, mind you.

I have -- for lack of a better term -- neglected the blog in recent days because my responsibilities here have expanded greatly even since the start of baseball season. Quite simply, I've gotten more to do without getting more time to do it. Something's gotta give, and when I find myself routinely blogging at 4 a.m., I think we all know what that something is.

Look, I don't like it. In a perfect world, I'd just write a bang-up blog entry every day and go home. But the world, as most of us have come to learn by now, is not perfect.

So here's what I'll do: I'll still blog four days a week, which is really only one less day than before. I'll skip Saturday because I have to write the Hitting Planner, which is kind of like writing an encyclopedia. I currently have Sunday and Wednesday off each week, bringing our final tally to ...

Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: no blog
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: blog

… except I also have Tuesday off this week, meaning no bloggy tomorrow.

OK, sorry for that drawn-out and possibly boring process, but I know if certain people don't know when to check, they might stop checking altogether. And I like having people read my blog. That's kind of the point.


I haven't taken a trade question in a while, and I found one that happens to touch on my philosophy for starting pitchers. Let's give it a go:

Looking for some advice on a trade. I am in a Rotisserie keeper league, and keepers maintain the same salary. I am in the lead overall, third in wins (very close) and ninth out of 11 in strikeouts. I have an offer where I would trade Joe Saunders for Felix Hernandez, and their salaries are both at $1. I am not worried about the keeper status, but I'd lose wins with Hernandez. Any thoughts?
-- Dino Diviacchi

I have many thoughts, Dino. This mind never shuts off.

Specifically on your trade, I think you should make it without hesitating a second longer. Don't even wait to read the rest of this response (but I hope everyone else does).

See, I like to classify starting pitchers into two fundamental categories: those that get wins and those that get strikeouts. The crucial difference between the two is that strikeout pitchers can sometimes get wins but win pitchers can never get strikeouts.

Following the strict logic of that statement, without getting distracted by the baseball terminology and any biases that go along with it, you obviously want the pitcher that gets strikeouts.

And I think we know who between Saunders and Hernandez gets the strikeouts. You implied yourself you'd get Hernandez to improve your strikeouts. I just wanted to point out that, by getting Hernandez, you wouldn't necessarily hurt your chances of improving something else too.

Sticking with Saunders, you would. He gives you wins, and if the wins ever stop, he gives you nothing. You could argue he helps your ERA and WHIP, but the difference between his contribution in those categories (3.05 and 1.14) and Hernandez's (2.95 and 1.23) is negligible.

OK, so why might Saunders stop getting wins? Luck, for starters. The Angels only score so many runs, and they might start scoring less for Saunders and more for someone else. He won't have any control over it. Sure, he can help his chances by pitching well, but if he allows even one run, the game's out of his hands.

But I have even more concerns about Saunders than the raw logic of the above argument -- concerns that might also affect his wins. I have reason to believe his 3.05 ERA and 1.14 WHIP might not last much longer given his pedigree and track record. He has no history of pitching like this in the majors, in the minors or anywhere else. Meanwhile, he does have a history of slowing down in the second half -- a short history, but a history nonetheless.

And if he slows down, even just a little, he could conceivably end up with stats like a 3.43 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and an 18-8 record -- still good numbers, but ones that hurt your ERA and WHIP, give you only six more wins, and don't at all help you in strikeouts.

You have to make that trade. If by looking at those projected final numbers for Saunders, you wouldn't interpret he had a second-half collapse, then it's really a no-brainer. Saunders has to pitch only so bad to make the trade end up looking so good.

And I think, Dino, even you can say yabba-dabba do to that.

That's all for now.
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