Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Settling the Argument

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports - Cleveland


Kent, OHIO--I invented a baseball statistic. I am officially that big of a nerd. Hey, I have an MBA, love baseball, enjoy the powers of Microsoft Excel formulas, and have that kind of free time. It was bound to happen. Anyway, I am calling the whole thing "Pitcher Rating" in the shadow of Quarterback Rating in football.

My inspiration came in an odd way: I was sitting in the living room at my fiance's house in Michigan. They are all Tigers fans and I couldn't be more of a die-hard Tribe follower. Lately, I have been dying hard while her family is smiling as their team narrows the Twins' division lead.

So we were all in the living room, watching Verlander's most recent start. I have always had a big issue with Fox Sports Detroit's Rod Allen and how much of a homer he is. Even her family agreed; everything the Tigers do is the "best" or "greatest" to the point of being an embarrassment for even their fans. His outburst need to carry a disclaimer stating, "these views do not reflect all Tiger fans." Otherwise, his inability to properly frame modern ability into its adequate context makes all Detroit supporters seem unintelligent by association. Magglio Ordonez and Jimmie Foxx are not equals, sorry to break the news. I always thought that cracking the spine of a history book was a prerequisite for being a color analyst for a Major League Baseball team.

The Detroit offense is dynamic, but he would like you to believe the 1927 Yankees--the famed "Murderer's Row"--needs to take a back seat to a lineup that consists of Gerald Laird and Ramon Santiago. Ridiculous to the point of laughable. The modern Tigers have not even won a Central Division crown.

To be fair, he may just have a bad case of tunnel vision, forgetting that there are usually 14 other baseball games taking place across the nation on each and every night.

Well, on this particular night, Mr. Allen deviated from his typical offense-minded spiel to call Verlander the "best" in the American League right now.

That got me seething to prove him wrong. But how? There are so many ways to judge a pitcher. His record wouldn't support such a claim, but a combination of his wins and other Triple Crown stats could make an argument. I would take a 2-1 Cliff Lee over Verlander's 4.00 ERA.

So I began to tinker with weighting a series of stats to come up with one number... one number that can sort out who is the best thing going.

I have never been so happy with the outcome of doing a math problem. Justin Verlander hardly has an argument to be an All-Star. Take that, Rod.

This stat should definitely be used for Cy Young voting and to help make sense of the All-Star Game. Take the top 13 in each league, no questions asked or concessions made; make all the token player representatives for lousy teams position players. There is at least one good bat in every dugout in the Majors. It is not a guarantee there is one solid arm. Taking a team leader in saves with 12 out of 15 chances with barely 30 innings pitched (all because you need one Pittsburgh Pirate) is a joke. It is not a large enough sample size to prove any value to the league's cause.

I'd rather managers take a guy hitting .280 than a pitcher who is 8-7 at the Break. The latter snubs somebody much more deserving than a position player addition would.

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