Pitchers of the Year
When I was in middle school, I had a math teacher who would end each class by saying, “See you tomorrow.” When it got to Friday, we pointed out that tomorrow would actually be the weekend and then would say, “No, I mean mathematical tomorrow.” He meant, of course, the next time we’d have math with him, which was Monday.
I point this out to you not to show you how fun a teacher Mr. Morris was, but as a means to explain what I’ve meant when I’ve said, “I’ll discuss Pitcher of the Year candidates tomorrow.” Clearly, I meant mathematical tomorrow.
So, here we are and I’m finally ready. And, ironically, I’ve used some math (sort of) to try and come up with the best candidates. Let me take a minute to explain my crude methodology: I started with a list of 30 of the best Minor Legue pitchers for the 2009 season. I then ranked them according to a number of statistical categories (my thanks to those who helped figure out the best ones to use — you know who you are). In the end, I used:
ERA, batting average against, K/BB, WHIP and HR rate (HR/9). If a pitcher finished first in a category, he got one point, second place got two points and on down to 30. Obviously, the pitchers with the lower overall ratings were “better.”
Before all you true stats hounds chime in, I understand this is less than perfect. It doesn’t take level or league into account, it doesn’t look at home park factors or anything about the defense playing behind the pitcher. It doesn’t look at age according to level, either. In the end, though, picking a pitcher (or player) of the year is a little subjective and any statistical arguments you’re going to make will be somewhat arbitrary.
I’ll also note that there are no relievers considered on this list. Maybe that’s a bias of mine, but for whatever reason we’ll keep this to starters. I’m going to list them in order of my ranking. Here goes nothing.
1. Daniel Hudson, RHP, Chicago White Sox
9th in ERA (2.32), 2nd in BAA (.200), 3rd in K/BB (4.88), 1st in WHIP (0.94), 7th in HR Rate (0.31)
He’s the only pitcher to finish in the top 10 in all five categories. The fact he did it across four levels certainly doesn’t hurt his case.
2. Bradley Meyers, RHP, Washington Nationals
1st in ERA (1.72), 19th in BAA (.223), 12th in K/BB (3.38), 6th in WHIP (1.05), 3rd in HR Rate (0.20)
3. Travis Wood, LHP, Cincinnati Reds
2nd in ERA (1.77), 3rd in BAA (.204), 23rd in K/BB (2.55), 4th in WHIP (1.04), 11th in HR rate (0.32)
4. Rudy Owens, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates
4th in ERA (2.10), 16th in BAA (.219), 1st in K/BB (6.55), 2nd in WHIP (0.94), 26th in HR rate (0.80)
5. Zach McAllister, RHP, New York Yankees
7th in ERA (2.23), 17th in BAA (.220), 17th in K/BB (2.91), 9th in WHIP (1.08), 6th in HR rate (0.30)
6. Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants
3rd in ERA (1.85), 15th in BAA (.217), 21st in K/BB (2.71), 3rd in WHIP (1.02), 15th in HR rate (0.41)
The rest of the top 10:
7. Christian Friedrich, LHP, Rockies — 60
8. Evan Anundsen, RHP, Brewers — 60
9. Brett Lorin, RHP, Pirates — 60
10. Steve Hirschfeld, RHP, Twins — 61
Are these the only 10 pitchers worth talking about for this? Maybe not. This is by no means perfect — Anundsen and Hirschfeld, for instance, are largely creations of the pitching-friendly Florida State League. Do Owens and McAllister belong in the top 5? Should Bumgarner be higher? It’s all food for thought and hopefully will stir up some debate. That being said — and again, this is only my opinion — you’re going to have a hard time convincing me Daniel Hudson is not the Pitcher of the Year.