RankingsMay 27, 2008

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Top 10 Year-to-Date 5×5 Mixed League Pitchers

By Scott Swanay

In my previous article I ranked the Top 10 Year-to-Date 5×5 Mixed League Hitters for the first quarter of the season. In this article I’ll do the same for pitchers. The Sherpa Point system gives each pitcher a score ranging from 0 to 1.00 in each of the 5 standard pitching categories (W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP). Essentially, the league leader in each category is given a score of 1.00, while all other pitchers’ scores in that category are calculated as the ratio of their result to the league leader’s result.

For example, if Brandon Webb leads the league with 9 wins, he gets a Sherpa Point score of 1.00 in the wins category; a pitcher with 6 wins gets a score of 0.67; a pitcher with 3 wins gets a score of 0.33, etc. A proxy statistic is used for average-based categories (e.g. – ERA, WHIP, K/BB, K/9).

The maximum pitcher’s score is equal to the number of pitching categories. Statistics are taken from games through Tuesday, 5/20/08.

Without further delay, here’s the list of the Top 10 Year-to-Date 5×5 Mixed League Pitchers:

1. Cliff Lee 3.34 (Preseason Projection was 0.26)
2. Brandon Webb 3.03 (3.23)
3. Cole Hamels 2.92 (2.50)
4. Edinson Volquez 2.77 (0.13)
5. Shaun Marcum 2.66 (0.93)
6. Tim Lincecum 2.59 (1.85)
7. Ervin Santana 2.50 (0.42)
8. Ryan Dempster 2.48 (0.59)
9. Carlos Zambrano 2.36 (2.34)
10. Daisuke Matsuzaka 2.34 (2.13)

Yes, it’s early, but even at this stage in the season it’s obvious that my Preseason Projections for Cliff Lee (50 IP, 3 Wins, 4.68 ERA, and 1.43 WHIP) were just a bit off. The innings pitched projection is obviously the driver – based on his performance the last three years, I didn’t believe he would stick in the Indians’ rotation this year. Live and learn!

Webb and Hamels were in my Preseason Top 10, while Zambrano (13th), Matsuzaka (29th), and Lincecum (41st) all made my Preseason Top 50. However, the other five pitchers on this list can all safely be termed “surprises”; I’ll venture a guess that if you have two or more of them on your roster (entirely possible), you’re probably sitting near the top of your league’s pitching standings.

Many notable names are missing from this list:

1. Johan Santana 2.17 (Preseason Projection was 4.00)
2. Jake Peavy 2.13 (3.62)
3. C.C. Sabathia 0.76 (3.14)
4. Roy Oswalt 0.61 (2.93)
5. John Smoltz 1.41 (2.70)
6. Dan Haren 2.24 (2.62)
7. Aaron Harang 1.96 (2.53)
8. Erik Bedard 1.30 (2.47)

Just in case you’re curious, Jonathan Papelbon (1.89 vs 2.27), who ranks 24th year-to-date, is the highest-ranked closer; J.J. Putz (0.49 vs 2.32) was the highest-rated closer (15th) in my Preseason Projections.

There is still plenty of time left for the Cliff Lees and the Ryan Dempsters to regress towards their expected values, and there’s plenty of time left for the C.C. Sabathias and Roy Oswalts to pitch the way most experts expected them to pitch. I’ll be updating these rankings and comparisons for both hitters and pitchers periodically throughout the season.

Of course, lists like these are all well and good, but they don’t answer the obvious follow-up question: What should you expect these hitters and pitchers to do for the rest of the season?

I’ll attempt to answer that question for a sample of hitters and pitchers in my next article.

At the first baseball game Scott ever attended Fritz Peterson outpitched Nolan Ryan and won 2-0. Ryan had a fairly successful career after that; unfortunately, Peterson became better known for his wife-swapping than his pitching. Catch up with Scott in the Cafe's Forums where he posts as The Sherpa.
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