Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is Dan Haren having one on the most dominant pitching seasons ever?


It might be hard to believe, but a pitcher with a 5-4 record is statistically having one of the all-time most dominant seasons. Dan Haren, who pitches for the Diamondbacks, actually started off 0-3 (with a 1.90 era) and has gone 5-1 since. Unfortunately, even if he continues at this pace, he is unlikely to win the Cy Young Award without a Win-Loss Record that is very impressive. He is not even leading the league in era, although he is second. What he is really doing best is dominating hitters by not allowing hits, not issuing walks and collecting strikeouts.

There are a number of stats to measure pitcher dominance: WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched), K/BB (Strikeouts to Walk Ratio), Opponents Batting Average, Strikeouts per 9 innings to name a few. I have devised a stat that combines two of the most important: WHIP and (K/BB). By dividing WHIP into K/BB, you can rank pitchers against each other, combining the ability to keep runners off the bases with the ability to strike hitters out and not issue walks. It takes a rare and special pitcher to truly excel at both of those. The problem is that many pitchers that get strikeouts also walk too many hitters (Nolan Ryan, Kerry Wood, Steve Carlton) and control artists who limit walks either get hit or don’t get the strikeouts (Brad Radke, Paul Byrd, Josh Towers). The starters that excel at this statistic year after year are the best in the game: Roy Halladay, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Johan Santana, Chris Carpenter and Curt Schilling.

How good are Haren’s numbers? Well, if the season ended today, Haren would have the 2nd best WHIP of the live ball era (behind only Pedro Martinez’s ridiculous .74 in 2000). His K/BB ratio would be the 11th best of the modern era at 6.92. This would give him a .11 ratio of WHIP to K/BB. To you give some perspective, Cliff Lee had a .22 during his Cy Young Award Season in 2008. Randy Johnson’s best ever was in 2004 when he had a .14. Haren may come down to earth eventually or have a really bad outing that destroys his ERA quickly, like Johan Santana did against the Yankees this Sunday. If he does not come back to earth, this will be a season for the ages.

Haren is in pretty good company for his career stats too: He is 7th among active pitchers in WHIP and the 6 ahead of his are all surefire or likely Hall of Famers (Rivera, Hoffman, Martinez, Santana, Smoltz, Randy Johnson). He is 5th among starters in the modern era in K/BB and ahead are Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Ben Sheets and Santana. The important thing is for this incredible, historic season not to be forgotten about because he plays for a bad team and he doesn’t end up winning 20 games.

4 comments:

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