Posted by Andy on July 19, 2007
Kip Wells pitched a brilliant 2-hit gem yesterday, allowing only 5 baserunners and no runs in 8 innings.
That makes a lot of sense, especially given how in his previous start 5 days earlier he recorded only 3 outs, allowing 10 baserunners (8 hits, 1 walk, and 1 reached on error) and 6 runs (4 earned.)
Wells has had an amazingly inconsistent career, which is probably why he's stuck around a long time but never been a star.
Let's take a look at his game logs:
Starting with Wells' Pitching Game Finder, first I found how many times in his career as a starter he's allowed 10 or more baserunners. That's a staggering 84 times (in 194 career starts!) Truth be told, he did well in a number of those games, winning 8 of them and allowing 1 or fewer earned runs in 7 of them. So let's restrict it to games where he allowed 10 baserunners and didn't pitch at least 5 innings. You can see the list of 26 such games here. (13.4% of all his career starts)
Now how about the opposite? Games where he allowed 5 or fewer baserunners and pitched at least 5 innings? That list of 9 such starts is here. (4.6% of his career starts.)
I wonder how this compares to similar pitchers. On Kip's main B-R.com page, we learn that there are three active pitchers on the list of players most similar statistically: Doug Davis, Joel Pineiro, and Kris Benson (who I am counting as still active since we hopefully will see him again next season.)
I ran the same game log searches for these three players above, and this is how it compares:
Player Career Starts 10+BR/less than 5 IP 5-BR/at least 5 IP Wells 194 26 (13.4%) 9 (4.6%) Davis 196 23 (11.7%) 6 (3.1%) Pineiro 148 12 (8.1%) 13 (8.7%) Benson 195 15 (7.7%) 7 ( 3.6%)
This pretty much jives with what I was thinking, in that Wells has more "extreme" starts (18%--the total of the two types above) than anybody else on this list, even though these guys are among the statistically most similar players on the planet. Look in particular at Davis and Benson, who had almost the identical number of starts as Wells but significantly fewer of each type of game.
Pineiro might be even more maddening, though, and he certainly was to Mariners fans. He pitched quite a few great games for Seattle but never could do it consistently. Now he's barely hanging on to a middle-relief spot with Boston.