Is Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?

Hi there. I’m back after a prolonged offseason hibernation. Over the last several months there’s been a fair amount of the annual “Is he a Hall of Famer” debate. There’s the “the numbers tell me” argument, which tends to help players like Bert Blyleven. And there’s the “my eyes tell me” argument, which tends to favor players like Jack Morris. Here’s a fusion of the two, using our “eyes” to look at “the numbers” courtesy of Rankometer.

With Rankometer, we examine a pitcher’s career by visualizing how his WAR stacked up against his peers each season. Since a Hall of Famer should be performing at an elite level, we look at the top 30 starting pitchers in each season, since they would seemingly represent the “elite” (each team’s ace, the top 20 percent, however you want to look at it). So let’s take Rankometer for a spin and see what our eyes tell us.

Let’s first look at a first ballot Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. What do my eyes tell me? He was the best among the best for a long stretch. Consistent dominance for an extended period of time. The big block of color says “Hall of Famer” to me.

Now let’s look at a borderline candidate, Mike Mussina. Rankometer reveals a lesser pitcher than Maddux, but still an elite pitcher for an extended period of time, with some off-years here and there. Hard to say with Mussina, but after looking at his Rankometer I am more of a believer.

Now, let’s look at Andy Pettitte. What do your eyes tell you when you look at his Rankometer? To me, the visual doesn’t come close to Mussina’s (let alone Maddux’s). I know we’re not considering his postseason resume, which this doesn’t capture (maybe a future revision could). But still, my eyes don’t tell me “Hall of Famer” when I look at this visual. What do you see?

OCTOBOMETER AND THE YANKEES

Here’s a look at the New York Yankees batting order, comparing regular season OPS with postseason OPS. Cano and Granderson have stepped up, while a parade of Yankees (led by A-Rod) has shrunk from the limelight.

Yankees Rangers – It’s On!

The Rangers would seem to have a big edge in their starting rotation on paper, but the Yankees have the benefit of starting with their best guy on the mound…

How Good Are The Yankees?

Gotta love the offense but the mediocre pitching and defense is somewhat disconcerting.  Then again, they pitched pretty damn well against the Twins…

Why the Yankees dropped AJ Burnett from the ALDS rotation

Paintomatic explains.  (For those not familiar with Paintomatic, each circle represents a pitch, the size indicating how often the pitch is thrown and the color indicating how effective the pitch is.)

Winnesota?

Here’s a look at what the New York Yankees have done to the Minnesota Twins in their last four postseason series. Ugly, to say the least…unless you’re a Yankee fan.

Twins Yankees CASHCLOUD

I know this is the time of year when we put salaries and contracts aside and just play some ball, but I can’t let it rest. Until baseball corrects the vast payroll disparities between teams, I’m going to keep making CASHCLOUDS. And probably for a long time!

Rays and Yankees AfterGlow

As promised, here’s the first of some daily doses of AfterGlow. Let’s start by previewing two of the AL’s playoff contenders, the Yankees and Rays. Both teams find themselves in a very similar place but have gotten there in very different ways. The Rays have had a dramatic rise to prominence, with sweeping improvements in both runs scored and runs allowed. Over the last 5 years their offense has improved steadily, as had their pitching & defense (with the exception of a 2009 setback).

The Yankees have been amazingly consistent over the last 5 years, especially with their offense.

Yankees Rays SmackDown

Here’s a version of Rankometer designed to compare 2 teams head to head. Let’s compare the Yankee and Rays on hitting (OPS), pitching (FIP for starters, WPA for relievers), defense (UZR), and base running (Fangraphs Speed Score).

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HITTING: The Rays are disadvantaged at almost every position, and at their strongest positions (3B and LF) they only have a slight advantage.  PITCHING: The teams look very similar, with both teams’ starting rotations surprisingly average, and their top relievers closing out games in dominant fashion. DEFENSE: The Rays are better than the Yankees, but not as much as you’d think.  BASE RUNNING: Not surprisingly, the Rays are superior base runners, although they grind to a halt at the DH position. The Yankees are surprisingly good base runners, although Cano and Swisher can really clog up the base paths, and Arod seems to be slowing by the day.

Introducing PayScale

After a long week and a hard-earned paycheck, let’s take a look at who’s earning their paychecks in MLB. PayScale plots prorated salary (Y axis) against WAR (X axis) and uses a rough baseline of $4.5M per win as “fair compensation.” Players which a higher $/win are classified as overpaid, while players with a lower $/win are classified as bargains.

Here’s a look at two big market teams – the Yankees and Red Sox. Some things that catch my attention: For the Yankees, it’s the rock-solid value (still!) of their old guard of Posada, Jeter, Rivera, and Pettite. For the Red Sox, it’s the tremendous value they’re getting out of Youkilis, Lester, Buchholz, and Pedroia (Boston’s younger version of the Yankees’ old guard).

Starting Pitching in the AL East

Using the Rank-o-meter, lets take a look at starting rotations in the AL East.  I’m experimenting with a different approach to ranking pitchers – this time looking at each team’s best starter, then second best starter, and so on.   Lets take a look, with the best rotations first:

1. The Rays have the best and deepest rotation thusfar

2. The next best rotation is probably the Yankees, although right now they’re essentially a 3-deep rotation.

3. The Jays are off to a surprising start, driven by a well-balanced rotation.

4. The Red Sox come in 4th, with a very disappointing start.  Bucholz and Beckett have been fine, but the rest of the rotation has been a disaster.

5. Bringing up the rear is the Orioles staff.  Not too pretty…

Introducing the Rank-o-Meter!

A few days ago I posted some visuals showing the seasons of Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, and CC Sabathia.  I’ve made some changes to these visuals and wanted to share all three of them in succession.   I’m experimenting with something called the “Rank-o-meter,” (a bit cheesy, I know) which presents a simple concept: How hot (or cold) was a player relative to his peers.  Check out these three charts and let me know what they tell you about these three pitchers?  Did the Cy Young Award voters get it right?

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Let’s put the CC Sabathia talk to rest

Looking at CC’s 2009 season, and comparing it to the same visuals for Felix Hernandez and Zack Greinke (below), it’s not even close.  CC was great down the stretch and in the postseason, but WAY too inconsistent to win a Cy Young award.

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Do Baseball Players Need Shrinks?

Here’s a look at the difference (psychologically) between being baseball’s best and worst teams.  A Yankee player leaves the ballpark with a high probability of a win (and a smile on his face).  In stark contrast, a guy toiling away for the Nationals leaves the ballpark with a frown on his face two-thirds of the time.  What’s interesting to note, though, is that even the very best teams still lose a lot, supporting the old adage that baseball is truly a game of failure.

2009 happiness meter

2009 New York Yankees Season at a Glance

Here’s a look at the World Champion New York Yankees 2009 Season.  In a sport where even the best teams suffer their share of ups and downs, the Yankees played remarkably well for the vast majority of the season, especially in the second half.  If it wasn’t obvious enough, the red color indicates the team playing well, and blue representing a slump (measured by week-to-week win percentage).

2009 yankee season

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Pettitte and Hamels in the Postseason

This graphic shows the postseason track records of tonight’s Game 3 lefties.  The experience factor is clearly in Pettitte’s favor, but what’s most remarkable is the number of quality starts he’s given the Yankees over the last 14 years (shown in red).  An amazing run, including this postseason’s 3  quality starts over the Twins and Angels.  Note, Hamels did not submit a quality start in any of his 3 outings this postseason.  The track record points to a win by Pettitte tonight.

pettitte and hamels

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Phillies pitching vs. Yankee hitting

Here’s a graphic which matches the Phillies Game 1 and 2 starters – Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez – against the Yankee lineup. Red means the matchup favors the Phillies, blue means the Yankees are favored, and gray means a wash. Both pitchers have faced these hitters a number of times (line width = # of at bats), but Pedro has fared much better than Lee. Of course, much of Pedro’s success came several years ago when he was a better pitcher. We’ll see in Game 2 if Pedro can cheat father time once again in this post season.

Lee and Pedro vs Yanks

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Andy Pettitte vs. the Angels

Here’s a graphic showing Andy Pettitte’s track record against tonight’s expected Angels batting order.  As evidenced by the predominance of blue, Pettitte has had his way with this lineup for the most part.

pettitte vs angels

Then again, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching baseball over the last 3o years, it’s “expect the unexpected.”

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Scott Kazmir Owns the Yankees

Check out the Yankees’ lineup against Scott Kazmir lifetime.  Yanks may have their hands full tonight.

Kazmir Ownage

October Jitters: Which Yankees are rising to the occasion?

Here’s a visual representation of the Yankee lineup, comparing regular season and post-season OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage).  As usual Jeter has stepped up his game (as had A-rod, which is not so usual).  And Matsui and Posada are their typical steady selves.  How long can these 4 guys carry the Yankees offense?

Yankee Jitters

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