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Effects of changing leagues for pitchers.

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Effects of changing leagues for pitchers.

Postby bleach168 » Thu Mar 10, 2005 9:56 pm

Found this excellent study from mlb.com,

Thinking that an observational look at the pitchers who changed leagues during the last few years wouldn't tell us much, I concocted a study of pitchers since 1990 who changed leagues between seasons.

It turned out the samples amounted to 453 pitchers moving from the NL to the AL, throwing a total of 36,355 IP the season before the move, and 32,845 IP the season after it.

A total of 464 pitchers made the reverse trip, moving to the AL from the NL. They threw 32,517 innings the year before the move, and 34,439 innings the year after.

Aye, I asks meself I do, trying to talk like a pirate, What do these ratios tell me that I don't already know? Not much, but they confirm that it's a good deal easier to pitch in the NL than the AL (with the rank and nasty DH rule, aargh). For further confirmation, let's look at the numbers:

Pitchers who moved from the NL to the AL saw their:

-- ERA rise from 4.39 to 4.83
-- Ratio rise from 12.65 to 13.19
-- WHIP rise from 1.41 to 1.47
-- K/9 rate drop from 6.4 to 6.1
-- BB/9 rate rise from 3.4 to 3.5


Meanwhile, pitchers who moved from the AL to the NL saw their:

-- ERA drop from 4.77 to 4.38
-- Ratio drop from 13.26 to 12.64
-- WHIP drop from 1.47 to 1.40
-- K/9 rate rise from 6.1 to 6.3
-- BB/9 rate drop from 3.6 to 3.4

Wondering if these changes affected starters and relievers similarly, I broke the samples down into pools of each. I defined a pitcher as a starter if more than 33 percent of his games came as starts.

The results:


IP ERA Ratio K/9 BB/9
N2A Starts Before 23,076 4.42 12.43 6.1 3.1
N2A Starts After 20,306 4.94 13.13 5.6 3.2

N2A Relief Before 13,279 4.34 13.03 6.9 3.9
N2A Relief After 2,459 4.65 13.29 6.8 4.1

A2N Starts Before 19,346 4.88 13.21 5.7 3.3
A2N Starts After 20,512 4.47 12.48 5.9 3.2

A2N Relief Before 13,171 4.59 13.35 6.6 3.9
A2N Relief After 13,546 4.29 12.92 7.0 3.8Here are the rates of difference for each stat:


ERA Ratio K/9 BB/9
A2N Over -9% -4% +4% -4%
A2N Start -10% -5% +8% -5%
A2N Relief -7% -2% +2% -3%

N2A Over +9% +5% -4% +4%
N2A Start +9% +6% -3% +6%
N2A Relief +7% +3% -3% -2%These are pretty significant samples, but all these charts don't mean that a pitcher can't improve after moving to the AL from the NL. But even if he does it's going to have to be a better than a nine percent improvement for his actual ERA to get better.

In AL- or NL-only leagues this isn't much of a problem, but when making projections you don't want to overestimate Carl Pavano's ERA this year. If he were to pitch just as well as last year, his ERA this year will be about 3.35. And when you play a mixed-league game, the differences are crucial. If pitchers were sprinters, it's as if the NL pitchers are in a 100-meter dash starting two steps ahead of the AL pitchers.

Taking this into account can be a nice little edge to have on draft day.

"And so he spoke, and so he spoke, that lord of Castamere. But now the rains weep o'er his hall, with no one there to hear." - The Rains of Castamere
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Postby LBJackal » Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:20 pm

So K/9 changes .5 points for a SP league switch to the AL... that's exactly what I had it pegged for, good to know i wasn't just making things up. BB/9 doens't take as drastic a hit because neither #9 hitters in the AL or pitchers in the NL are walked very much, and for every 9th hitter that's walked in the AL there are probably almost as many 8th men being walked in the NL to get to the pitcher.

I'd like to see what the HR/9 numbers look like... usually for that I just take a guess based on park and don't consider the league all that much.

Also, the %'s at the end don't really make sense. If a switch from N2A for SP's is .5 and for A2N it's .2 then shouldn't the % change for N2A SP's be bigger than A2N SP's? But the %'s show the opposite, maybe that's a typo :-?

Anyway good work Bleach ;-D
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:45 pm

?? Is there anyone that did not know that it generally makes sense to weight your pitching staff towards the NL and your hitters towards the AL? Or that pitchers that have to face the DH are generally going to give up mor ehits than pitchers who get to pitch to pitchers?
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Postby curious_george_43545 » Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:46 pm

2 words...Tim Hudson
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Postby bleach168 » Thu Mar 10, 2005 10:57 pm

GotowarMissAgnes wrote:?? Is there anyone that did not know that it generally makes sense to weight your pitching staff towards the NL and your hitters towards the AL? Or that pitchers that have to face the DH are generally going to give up mor ehits than pitchers who get to pitch to pitchers?


While it seems like common knowledge, someone like Andy Pettitte is still being undervalued. If you knock off .39 ERA and .06 WHIP from his career numbers, you now have a solid #3 fantasy starter.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Thu Mar 10, 2005 11:26 pm

bleach168 wrote:
GotowarMissAgnes wrote:?? Is there anyone that did not know that it generally makes sense to weight your pitching staff towards the NL and your hitters towards the AL? Or that pitchers that have to face the DH are generally going to give up mor ehits than pitchers who get to pitch to pitchers?


While it seems like common knowledge, someone like Andy Pettitte is still being undervalued. If you knock off .39 ERA and .06 WHIP from his career numbers, you now have a solid #3 fantasy starter.


Careful there, Cowboy. Pettitte also moved from a pitcher's park (park factor of about 97) to a hitter's park (park factor of about 102). That saves about half of that reduction in ERA and WHIP away right off the bat.

The mocks I've seen have Pettitte picked between 140 and 180, usually. If anything, that seems a little high for a 3.8 ERA, 1.35 WHIP (after making adjustments for league AND park), 6.5 K/9,
32 year old pitcher who has averaged 120 IP per year over the last 3 years, coming off an injury and playing on a team headed rapidly south offensively prohjected by most systems to win between 70 and 75 wins this year.
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Postby bleach168 » Fri Mar 11, 2005 12:00 am

Pettitte has bad career numbers, but since 2000 he has had a 3.84 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and a 7.5 K/9

I agree that he doesn't get the full discount since he's moving from a pitching friendly park to a hitting friendly park so if you want to give him a half reduction it still amounts to a 3.64 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and a 7.6 K/9. Pretty solid #3 starter stats.

Plus word is he's healthy.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Fri Mar 11, 2005 9:51 am

bleach168 wrote:Pettitte has bad career numbers, but since 2000 he has had a 3.84 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and a 7.5 K/9

I agree that he doesn't get the full discount since he's moving from a pitching friendly park to a hitting friendly park so if you want to give him a half reduction it still amounts to a 3.64 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and a 7.6 K/9. Pretty solid #3 starter stats.

Plus word is he's healthy.


I adjusted his last 2 years in NY for both park and league and then computed a three year weighted average. That gives an ERA of 3.74, 1.28 WHIP, and 8.1 K/9.

I agree with the basic idea that people oftenmake mistakes in rating players making switches between league and park (often because they don't understand those effects). But in the ESPN drafts he's ranked as the 34th starting pitcher selected. In a 12 team league, that would suggest he's at the border of being seen as bottm #2/top #3 pitcher. I think that's in line with those stats above.

But, I think that over-rates him because of the lousy offensive support he will get and the high injury risk. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass what people say. The facts say that guys who were injured in the past are more likely to be injured in the future. Pettitte's innings pitched projection is about 135. On his list of ten most comparable pitchers, about half of them never pitched more than 200 innings from age 33 and up.
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