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4 BoSox hitters on pace for 6 Wins Above Replacement

Posted by John Autin on July 24, 2011

Through Saturday 7/23, Red Sox hold 4 of the AL's top 5 spots in Wins Above Replacement* for position players:

All 4 hitters are on pace for at least 6.4 WAR. No team has had 4 position players at that level.

Only one team ever had 4 position players with 6 Wins Above Replacement (often called the threshold of "MVP level"): the 1902 Pirates, who went 103-36, a .741 W% that's 2nd best in modern history.

Dropping the threshold a bit, here are the nine teams with 4 position players >= 5.5 WAR:

It's a pretty strong group, eh? Out of 9 teams, we have:

  • 5 World Series champions (averaging 2 Hall of Famers per team);
  • 1 NL champ that predates the WS (also with 2 HOFers);
  • 1 AL champ that lost a 7-game WS (another 2 HOFers); and
  • 2 runaway division winners that lost in the playoffs.

The average W% was .663, which translates to a 107-55 record in today's schedule.

Is it just an accident that 8 out of 9 are AL teams? (And the Red Sox would make it 9 of 10.) Your thoughts?

Finally ... Only 2 players appear twice on this list. Both are Hall of Famers; they were teammates on the Blue Jays, and ran amok in the '93 Series.


* All references herein are to the version of Wins Above Replacement; here's another essay on our version. For the FanGraphs version, click here.

53 Responses to “4 BoSox hitters on pace for 6 Wins Above Replacement”

  1. BCC Says:

    3 of the 4 were drafted by the Sox, which is kind of cool.

    I'm heading out to Fenway tomorrow night for my first game of the season (and the first ever for my youngest son!)

    Laissez les bons temps rouler!

  2. John Autin Says:

    Cool, BCC -- You get to Lester in his first game back!

  3. John Autin Says:

    @1 -- I love your website!

  4. Zachary Says:

    And to think that no Sox player is outperforming their expectations/potential and at least one (Carl Crawford) has been severely underperforming. That's just scary when you also consider that their pitching is pretty solid despite more than 90 innings of John "His Pitching is Sorely" Lackey.

    [To counter the obvious opening: Ellsbury's season could technically be called an outlier, but I think everybody would agree that he's always had star potential. While the power is a bit surprising, he's been smacking line drives at an elite level rather than just getting a few lucky flies, and a power surge at 27 is hardly unprecedented.]

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It would be interesting to see a team WAR/wins comparison.

  6. John Autin Says:

    @4, Zachary -- Wouldn't you have to say that Pedroia is outperforming expectations, at least in the sense that his career high in WAR was 5.2, and he's already at 5.3 WAR this year?

  7. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Zachary, I must begrudgingly admit that you are mostly right. There are certainly a lot of Sox performing at the upper bounds of reasonable expectations, but that's probably true for most top teams. I will somewhat disagree on Ellsbury, as I don't think he's generally been considered a potential star. Maybe he was after bursting on the scene in '07, but that was a long time ago, and he'd put up an 89 OPS+ in 1400 PA since then. I don't think too many people predicted Beckett would put up a 2.00 ERA this season, but I can't say it's shocking as his talent has always been obvious. Don't know if he'll maintain the .221 BABIP. Anyway, the New Yorkers have their work cut out for them.

  8. Johnny Twisto Says:

    JA/6, if you look at Pedroia's entire line, it doesn't look like a shocking jump in performance. He's drawing a ton more walks (despite being "protected" by A-Gon), but otherwise he's doing the stuff he's always done, perhaps just a bit better. While the offensive environment crumbles, he remains unaffected, making him more valuable even if he hasn't necessarily improved by leaps and bounds.

  9. John Q Says:

    Part of the problems with these types of teams is that their position players are so good that in turn they inflate the wins totals of the starting pitchers. So a team could have a pitcher who was kind of average look great or a pitcher that's downright horrible look somewhat decent.

    Case in point the '99 Indians.

    Charles Nagy won 17 games with a 4.95 era. Jaret Wright and Dwight Gooden had era's over 6.00 and were each allowed to start over 22 games that season.

    Things came to a head in game three when Wright relieved Dave Burba and gave up 5 earned runs. Charles Nagy gave up 7 earned runs in game 5. The Indians were up 2-0 in the series and got blown out the next three games by the Red Sox.

    Paul Abbott had a 4.25 era for the 2001 Mariners and won 17 games. John Halama had a 4.73 era and won 10 games that season.

  10. Doug Says:

    Every team but the '68 Tigers has at least one current or future HOFer listed (he doesn't look like one this year, but Ichiro's in by a mile if you go by the HOF Monitor - measures 206 where 100 is supposedly a good shot at making it). And, those '68 Tigers did have HOFers Al Kaline and Eddie Mathews in supporting roles

    So, who will be the HOFer(s) who are on the Red Sox this year?

  11. John Q Says:

    @10 Doug,

    That's alway an fun thing to think about and it's kind of interesting how things work out.

    I remember the '79 Pirates and it was generally believed at that time that Dave Parker was a lock HOF and that Bill Madlock was on a pretty solid HOF track. Neither player made the HOF. Most people felt Stargell would need 500 HR which he never reached yet Stargell was surprisingly a first ballot guy. Blyleven was an very underrated player at the time so nobody talked about him with the HOF.

    I would think Saber stats will play a much bigger part in 15-25 years by the time these guys are on a HOF ballot so that's going to play a part.

    Lester is really kind of an underrated pitcher he deserves more accolades than he gets but he's got a solid HOF shot. Pedroia and Gonzalez should have solid HOF shots.

    Youkalis got off to a late start. Ortiz had a late start plus he's got the steroid attachment. Beckett has great post-season numbers but his regular season numbers are kind of inconsistent.

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Good question Doug. I don't think there's anyone on the team who looks likely to make it right now, but there are a number of guys compiling their resumes and we'll have to wait a few years to see which ones remain on a HOF trajectory. I'd guess that at least one player on the team will make it eventually.,

    If I had to pick a favorite, I might go with Beckett. I could see him getting to ~230 wins with a strong postseason record and getting in. It's close though. Maybe picking any pitcher is stupid unless they're 75% of the way there or no batters are close.

  13. DavidRF Says:

    Kaline wasn't a supporting player in 1968. He just spent six weeks on the DL in the first half which was enough time to kick him off the list of "regulars". Otherwise, he had an excellent season.

    The "Since 1901" label is missing. I found that the 1895 Orioles made the list (Jennings, Kelley, Keeler, McGraw). There might be more.

    I don't see how its a "problem" for great batters to inflate the win totals of average pitchers. In that high-offense era, Nagy & Abbott were average pitchers. In another era, it might have been Fred Norman or Jack Billingham.

  14. Doug Says:

    Pedroia is my hunch for the best HOF bet on the Red Sox. He's piling up some good counting stats (H, R, 2B) and is maintaining some good rate stats which should get better as he moves through his peak years. I like that his BBs are up noticeably this year.

    Adrian may get to 400 HR / 1500 RBI, which might be enough but would probably be borderline. His similar guys (McGriff, Delgado, George Bell, Mo Vaughn, and Morneau and Konerko as contemporaries) are exactly that, borderline but more likely below the line.

  15. jim Says:

    molitor's on the list with 2 different teams, 12 years apart, despite spending 1 year almost entirely at if not a premium than a difficult defensive position, 3B, and the other almost entirely at DH, and 1B the rest of the time. amazing

  16. Doug Says:

    Intended to mention it above - Pedroia's also got a couple of HOFers (Gehringer, Carew) on his similarity list.

  17. Jimbo Says:


    Winning 10 games with a 4.73 era is hardly unusual. Not sure how John Halama's season was worth mentioning in your post.

    In the strike shortened 114 game season that was 1994, Jack Morris went 10-6 for the Indians with a 5.60 era. Project that over the season and he's a 15 game winner.

    David Wells won 11 games in 1996 with a 5.14 era, and 17 games in 1999 with a 4.82 era.

    Mike Mussina won 19 games in 1996 with a 4.81 era, and 11 games in 2006 with a 5.15 era.

    Pat Hentgen won 15 games in 2000, with a 4.72 era, and 12 games in 98 with a 5.17 era.

    And those were just the first 4 pitchers to come to mind.

    The list goes on an on.


    I'd say by the looks of it, Adrian Gonzalez is almost a sure bet to make the Hall barring major injury. He put up big numbers in San Diego where NOBODY puts up big numbers, and not you put him in Fenway and see how those numbers translate. He'll be in Boston for a while, and barring injury, I would expect to see several years like his current year.

    David Ortiz is hitting huge this year, but at DH that only translates into a 2.2 WAR. A .935 OPS that I think is second on the team after Gonzalez.

  18. Jimbo Says:

    Carl Crawford also has a strong shot at the Hall, assuming this year was just an aberration.

    1550 hits, 419 steals, 109 triples, and a 5 time all star and he turns 30 next week. He'll need a strong second half to his career, but if plays long and gets up to 2800 hits and 650 steals he'd have a good shot at it.

    He'd be on the less deserving side, but those numbers with a good image would give hm a strong shot (nevermind the fact that Tim Raines was a similar player but much better).

  19. Elkboy Says:

    John Olerud is on the list for that 1993 Blue Jay team as well and just missed the list for the 2001 Seattle Mariners at 5.3 WAR...

  20. Jimbo Says:

    John Olerud, never getting his due.

  21. John Autin Says:

    @19, Elkboy -- Thanks for the correction re: Olerud.

    @20, Jimbo -- Shame on me! I've championed Olerud's HOF case many times.

  22. John Autin Says:

    @8, JT -- If Pedroia's raw numbers stay the same while the offensive environment crumbles, hasn't he improved his performance, in real terms? His OPS+ is 138, 22 points above his combined 2007-10 mark, 16 points above his previous full-season high.

    That doesn't necessarily mean he's "outperforming expectations," as I put it -- one could easily see it as a natural progression for a player reaching age 27. But it is better than he's ever done before.

  23. John Autin Says:

    I agree with Jimbo @18 -- Of all the Red Sox, Crawford probably has the best chance to make the HOF ... which is not to say he has the best chance to deserve induction.

    Pedroia is arguably on a HOF track -- again, in terms of likelihood -- given that he's only 27; already has an MVP and ROY, 3 All-Star appearances and a Gold Glove; and is playing at an MVP level this year. But middle infielders often hit a wall in their early 30s, so it's a dicier projection.

  24. DavidRF Says:

    I did the full 19th century scan. Two teams:

    1895 BAL - Jennings, Kelley, Keeler, McGraw
    1898 BAL - Jennings, McGraw, McGann, Demontreville

  25. TheIronHorse Says:

    I agree John. A pretty strong group indeed. It made me wonder, which team was the best. Dropping the WAR requirement to 5.0 allows only two teams on this list to add membership. The 01 Mariner's added John Olerud at 5.3 WAR while the 39 Yankees added two, Bill Dickey at 5.3 and Charlie Keller at 5.1 WAR.

    Interestingly, 1939 was the year that the real Iron Horse ended his great streak. If not for that, these Yankees may have had seven players exceed 5.0 WAR.

  26. John Q Says:

    @13 David RF,

    Well the problem with great hitting teams inflating their starting pitchers win totals is that it makes a mediocre or terrible pitcher look much better than they actually are. The problem can come to head when a team has to play much more talented teams in the post season.

    Here's an example, Steve Trachsel was awful for the 2006 Mets. He had a 4.97 era yet tied for the team lead in wins (15) because he got great run support and was extremely lucky. He pitched in game 3 of the NLCS and gave up 5 earned runs in only 1 inning pitched.

    Phil Hughes won 18 games for the 2010 Yankees because he had insane run support but he was horrible in the ALCS and probably cost the Yankees a shot at the WS.

    As far as the 70's Reds goes, there were plenty of playoff games/series that were lost from mediocre/terrible pitchers with good win totals:

    Jim Meritt game #5 1970 WS.
    Jim McGlothin game #5 1972 WS.
    Ross Grimsley game #3 1973 NLCS.
    Jack Billingham game #5 1973 NLCS.
    Mike Lacoss/Fred Norman game #3 1979 NLCS.

    They won in '75 but no thanks to Gullett, Norman and Nolan who were awful and who almost gave the series to the Red Sox.

    As far as 1993 goes, Stottlemyre won 11 games with a 4.81 era and Stewart won 12 games with a 4.43 era. Stottlemyre was terrible in the post-season and Stewart was awful in the WS.

  27. John Q Says:

    @17 Jimbo,

    My point wasn't that it was rare for good offensive teams to have mediocre/terrible pitchers with relatively high win totals, you're right that's fairly common. My point was that those inflated win totals could make a pitcher look much better than he really is (Steve Trachsel 2006) and it could cost a team an important playoff game or a playoff series.

  28. Baseball: 4 BoSox hitters on pace for 6 Wins Above Replacement » Stathead » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] 4 BoSox hitters on pace for 6 Wins Above Replacement: At B-R, John Autin notes that the Red Sox are on pace to join some pretty elite historical WAR company. [...]

  29. John Autin Says:

    @11, John Q -- I agree that Lester is on a HOF path -- if he keeps racking up wins with a great W% for another 8 years or so. But with 71 wins, he's not even 1/3 of the way there.

    I don't know that he deserves more accolades. He has a 128 ERA+ in 880 career IP. He's a 2-time All-Star, and finished 4th in the CYA vote last year. Comparable pitchers:

    -- Ubaldo Jimenez, with virtually the same career IP and ERA+, is a 1-time All-Star, and placed 3rd in last year's CYA vote.

    -- Jered Weaver, with more IP and a better ERA+, is a 2-time All-Star, and placed 5th in last year's CYA vote.

    -- Cole Hamels, more IP but 2 pts. lower in ERA+, is a 2-time All-Star, ran 6th in a CYA vote way back when.

    Lester's attention and accolades seem about right to me, but of course, that's entirely subjective.

  30. John Autin Says:

    Followup re: Lester -- In light of JT's observation that Pedroia has kept his raw rates pretty steady as the offensive context has declined, it's worth noting that Lester has done about the same. Here are his ERA and ERA+ since 2008:

    2008 - 3.21, 144
    2009 - 3.41, 138
    2010 - 3.25, 133
    2011 - 3.31, 123

  31. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Current Red Sox players' chances for the HOF:

    1) I'd go with Pedroia - this is only his 5th full year, but he's already got the hardware (ROY, MVP, 3 AS games, GG) and the leading in major counting stats (Hits, 2Bs, Runs twice), that both the general public and BBWAA voters can easily relate to. For the SABR-types he's got a lot of WAR value for being a very good offensive player and a good fielder at an up-the-middle position.

    The major note of caution is that (as John A says in #23) 2nd basemen often seem to decline earlier than other positions; see Chase Utley the last few years.

    2) Adrian Gonzalez - He's off to a great start, but it's a _very_ crowded field. He's not as good as Pujols, so he needs to distinguish himself from Texiera/ Fielder/ Howard/ Votto/ Cabrera, not to mention the previous generation of 1B greats such as Helton/ Thome/ Delgado/ Giambi. An MVP this year would help quite a bit.

    3) John Lester - He's off to a very good start, but it's waaaay too early to tell. He needs some major hardware (CYA) or statistical milestones to solidify his case.

    4) Josh Beckett - Great post-season feats, but too many ordinary regular years, and only a few great years, weaken his HOF argument . This year will change that somewhat.

    5) David Ortiz - He'll face the anti-DH bias, plus his career counting stats are going to be too similar to too many slugger-types (to start with, most of the 1B that I mentioned in #2). He needs at least two more future years similar to his last two years to have a serious argument, and body types like his are usually done as regulars by their late 30's.

  32. DavidRF Says:

    I'd hope we're smarter than looking at won-loss totals for pitchers these days. If a team won by outscoring their opponents in the regular season, then they can win that way in the playoffs.

  33. Mike L Says:

    With the qualifier that I'm a Yankee fan, I don't see a path for either Ortiz or Beckett. A Hall that would have Ortiz and not Edgar Martinez would be a travesty, and I don't think Edgar is getting in soon (and he was clean). Beckett is a terrific pitcher, but he's been very up and down in his career, and I wouldn't be surprised to see his final stats look a lot like Andy Pettite's (who I don't think of as HOF). Lester and Pedroia are wonderful talents; but it is early (and, in Pedrioa's case, I would throw in Carlos Baerga and Nomar as cautionary tales). AGon is interesting. He's going to finish the productive portion of his career in a great ballpark for him. He has a long way to go on counting stats, but if he stays healthy it's possible.

  34. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @33/ Mike L - Excellent points, esp. on Ortiz and Beckett. I agree, Edgar is a more deserving HOF case than Ortiz is currently is, and I don't see Ortiz extending his career much longer, with his body type (though he could be the "exception that proves the rule"?).

    Beckett's career counting stats are probably not going to be that impressive, as:
    - he never pitched a complete season till age 26
    - he has had only three "full" seasons: 30 Starts/ 200 Innings

    Beckett is going to be a peak argument, and he needs at least another three HOF-level seasons like this year and 2007, to have _any_ HOF chance at all. He's already 31, and 130 wins (I'm giving him 9 more this year...) is just not that impressive at that age. Jon Garland has 131 wins now at age 31, and no HOF "buzz" at all. OTOH, Randy Johnson only had 106 wins by age 31 (but he did pitch till age 45).

    It's interesting to look back at other Red Sox greats, and see how they were regarded; Fred Lynn looked like a future HOFer after 1979, and Nomah! cetainly had a strong case after 2003. Little did we know...

  35. John Q Says:

    @29 John A,

    Valid points all around.

    As far as Lester goes and his lack of accolades, I'm basically referring to his 2008 & 2009 seasons where he was 4th in the A.L. in both era+ & WAR yet he didn't go to the all star game or receive a CY Young vote.

    I would think HOF voting will evolve in 15-25 years to more sabermetrically inclined.

  36. John Q Says:

    @32 David RF,

    Well I don't think that's the case at all. The '75-76 Cincinnati Reds are an aberration if you look at teams that led the majors in Runs scored and how well they did in the playoffs.

    If you look at teams that led the Majors in runs scored from the beginning of divisions in 1969 to the last year before the wild card in 1993, it's actually kind of shocking how poorly they did. 64% of the teams that led the Majors in runs scored didn't even make the playoffs from 1969-1993!! Only 4 teams led the majors in run scoring and won the WS. Only 6 even made it to the WS.

    1969-Cin, did not make PO
    1970-SF, did not make PO
    1971-Pitt, Won WS
    1972-Hou, did not make PO
    1973-Atl, did not make PO
    1974-LA, won NLCS, lost WS
    1975-Cin, Won WS
    1976-Cin, Won WS
    1977-Minn, did not make PO
    1978-Mil, did not make PO
    1979-Cal, won div, lost to Balt in LCS
    1980-Det, did not make PO
    1981-Bos, did not make PO
    1982-Mil, won lcs, lost to Stl. in WS
    1983-ChW, won div, lost to Balt lcs
    1984-Det, Won WS
    1985-NYY, did not make PO
    1986-Cle, did not make PO
    1987-Det, won div, lost lcs to Minn
    1988-Bos, won div, lost lcs to Oak
    1989-Bos, did not make PO
    1990-NYM, did not make PO
    1991, Tex, did not make PO
    1992, Det, did not make PO
    1993, Det, did not make PO

  37. Mike L Says:

    John A-you are talking about runs scored, not run differential?

  38. John Q Says:

    David RF,

    If you look at team that led the majors in runs scored during the wild card era, it's definitely easier to make the playoffs than during the two division era. Only the '96 Mariners and the '08 Rangers failed to make the playoffs after leading the majors in scoring. But only 4 teams have made it to the WS so the % of teams is still the same as the '69-93 era. And a lot of teams have gotten knocked out in the divisional round.

    1995-Cle, won lcs, lost WS
    1996-Sea, did not make PO
    1997-Sea, lost in div rnd
    1998-NYY, won WS
    1999-Cle, lost in div round. They scored 1009 runs that year.
    2000-CWS, lost in div round.
    2001-Sea, won div round, lost in LCS.
    2002-NYY, lost in div round.
    2003-Bos, won div round, lost in lcs.
    2004-Bos, Won WS.
    2005-Bos, lost in div round.
    2006-NYY, lost in div round.
    2007-NYY, lost in div round.
    2008-Tex, did not make PO
    2009-NYY, Won WS.
    2010-NYY, won div round, lost lcs.

    No obviously the AL teams have an advantage because of the DH. The last NL team to lead the majors in scoring is the 1990 Mets which is just bizarre. The '74 Dodgers, '75-76 Reds were the only other NL teams to lead during the DH era. If I have time later I'll check the NL leaders from 1977-2010 and see how well they did.

  39. John Q Says:

    @37 Mike L, I'm not sure if you're referring to me but I just listed teams who led the Majors in Run scored and how if they made the playoffs and how well they did in the playoffs.

  40. Mike L Says:

    John Q, sorry, I meant you. Keyboard clumsiness. Your leader-board is simply runs scored, not run differential

  41. John Q Says:

    Here's the NL leaders in runs scored from 1977-1993:

    1977-PHL, won div, lost lcs.
    1978-LA, won lcs, lost WS
    1979-Pitt, Won WS
    1980-Stl, did not make PO
    1981-Phl, won 1/2 division lost in div round
    1982-Atl, won div, lost lcs
    1983-Atl, did not make PO
    1984-Chc, won div, lost lcs
    1985-Stl, won lcs, lost WS
    1986-NYM, Won WS
    1987-NYM, did not make PO
    1988-NYM, won div, lost lcs
    1989-Chc, won div, lost lcs.
    1990-NYM, did not make PO
    1991-Pitt, won div, lost lcs.
    1992-Pitt, won div, lost lcs.
    1993-Phl, won lcs, lost WS.

    During this era NL Run Scored leaders had a very good chance to make the playoffs, only four teams didn't: '80 Cards, '83 Braves, '87 Mets, and the '90 Mets.

    But on the other only 2 teams ('79 Pirates and '86 Mets) won the WS and only 4 teams even made it to the WS. The most likely outcome was to win the division but loose the lcs.

  42. John Q Says:

    Here's the NL runs scored leaders in the Wild Card era, this is a little skewed in the beginning because of the Rockies.

    1995-Col, lost in div rnd.
    1996-Col, did not make PO
    1997-Col, did not make PO
    1998-Hou, lost in div rnd.
    1999-Arz, lost in div rnd.
    2000-Col, did not make PO
    2001-Col, did not make PO
    2002-Arz, lost in div rnd.
    2003-Atl, lost in div rnd.
    2004-Stl, won lcs, lost in WS
    2005-Cin, did not make PO
    2006-Phl, did not make PO
    2007-Phl, lost in div rnd.
    2008-Chc, lost in div rnd
    2009-Phl, won lcs, lost in ws.
    2010-Cin, lost in div rnd.

    So this is basically the same patter of making the playoffs yet mostly not advancing past the first round.

    The NL has not had a team lead the National League in scoring and win the World Series since the Mets in 1986. That has to be one of the longest stretches in NL history.

  43. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    231, @34 - I may have actually left out the most likely future HOF member on the Red sox now.

    Hint - he is on the field for every game, but he is not a player. It's... Terry Francona:
    - he has won 2 WS; every manager who has won three WS is in the HOF
    - he has been over .500% all seven years w/the RS
    - he has made the playoffs 5 of 7 years with the RS, also winning 90+ games those years
    - he also made the ALCS in 2008, losing to the Rays in 7 games
    - just won his 1,000th game
    - he has successfully dealt with a number of "personalities", such as Pedro, Curt Schilling, Kevin MiIlar, and MbM

    The big negative, of course, is that the four years with the Phillies at the start of his career drag down his career record. Also, that some critics are _never_ going to give him any credit for managing a large-market team.

    Obviously, he's not qualified for the HOF yet, but he is moving rapidly along that path. Five more good years with the RS and a WS win may be enough.

  44. DavidRF Says:

    So you're saying scoring runs is bad? I don't believe that.

    I think we're getting off topic. My impression of what you were first saying was that a 95-win team with a great offense and average pitching had some inherent disadvantage in the playoffs because their pitchers' W-L records were being inflated. If you're the Rockies and you score the most runs but are being outscored by your opponents, then I wouldn't expect much from them.

    The question is two 95-win teams. One with a great offense and average pitching, the other with great pitching and an average offense. If the great pitching is concentrated in one or two starters that get to pitch disproportionately more in a short series than I can see the advantage there. But if that's not the case I don't see the advantage. If you won 4-2 all season or 6-4 all season, what's the difference?

  45. John Q Says:

    @44 David Rf,

    No run scoring is definitely good. Taking the Rockies out of the point for a moment, if you led the National League in runs scored in the DH era you had a very good chance to win your division.

    My point was that high scoring teams tend to overrate or inflate their pitching staffs worth because the pitchers win totals or win % tend to be very good or even great. A team with a good offensive can often make it's pitching staff look a lot better. This could be a problem in the playoffs when the competition gets better and there's less run support.

    It seems like A staff with 2-3 good pitchers and a good bullpen can knock off a superior offensive team in a short playoff series. I think it's telling that there's only been one (1986 Mets) National League team to lead the NL in runs scored and win the WS in the last 30 years.

    To go back to my Steve Trachsel example in 2006, Trachsel appeared to be having a good season with 15 wins yet it was kind of an illusion mainly because of his run support.

    I'm reminded of the Mets pitching staff of the late 80's that seemed a lot better than they really were because of their wins totals and win% were relatively good.

  46. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well the problem with great hitting teams inflating their starting pitchers win totals is that it makes a mediocre or terrible pitcher look much better than they actually are. The problem can come to head when a team has to play much more talented teams in the post season. ... Phil Hughes won 18 games for the 2010 Yankees because he had insane run support but he was horrible in the ALCS and probably cost the Yankees a shot at the WS.

    So the Yankees should have started...whom?

    They didn't send Hughes out there because he won 18 games, they sent him out there because he was their 3rd best pitcher.

  47. micah Says:

    If great hitting teams tend to have pitching that folds in the playoffs, I highly doubt that it's because they're overestimating their pitchers. What really matters is an evaluation of relative talent, and inflated offense should make everyone look better (to the extent that you're using metrics under which it makes people look better at all).

    A much more likely hypothesis would be that -- for the most part -- a team's resources are finite (even the Yankees can only grab the free agents that exist, and only have so many draft slots...), so a team with great hitting is apt to have intrinsically worse pitching.

  48. John Q Says:

    @46 Twisto,

    I never said they shouldn't have started Hughes, I merely pointed out that Hughes' 18 wins had more to do with his major league leading 6.8 runs per game in support than him being a great or even very good pitcher. He was an average starting pitcher who benefitted greatly from luck and good fortune.

    You're right he was their third best starting pitcher because Vazquez and Burnett were horrible last year.

    There was also a decision to start him in game 2 which was costly. I forget the exact details but the Yankees decided to start Hughes over Pettitte in game 2 because of fatigue on the part of Pettitte?

    The Yankees can be criticized for their decision not going out and acquiring a starting pitcher at the trade deadline.

  49. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Well, they had a deal made for Cliff Lee, but Seattle changed its mind at the last minute. I don't remember who else was plausibly available. The team was plenty good enough to win it all, they just didn't.

  50. John Q Says:

    @49 Twisto

    You're right about Lee, plus it would have stopped the Rangers from acquiring Lee. The Yankees are a very unique team in that they had 2 pitchers (Burnett & Vazquez) making about $27 million and they both barely played in the post season. Vazquez not at all and Burnett made 1 start.

    Do you remember why exactly Pettitte didn't start game 2?

  51. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I've forgotten what the issue was. I remember after the series was over, it was said that Pettitte probably would have missed his next start.

  52. Richard Chester Says:


    There have been 21 pitchers who have won 10 or more games with an ERA of 6.00+ and 271 such pitchers with an ERA of 5.00+.

  53. Carl Says:

    Pettitte had a pulled groin and the two extra days of rest moving from pitching in games 2 and 3 was hoped would help him heal.