Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The 'Stache Should Stick to Football

Dave Wannstache sent out an email to the other 3 editors of this here blog to announce that he is going on vacation. All well and good, except he had to send another email about 5 minutes later which responded to my posting of his remarks about Matt Capps in the Comedy Central Report of July 9th. These were his words:

"Oh, and Sam, here's 13 guys I'd take ahead of Capps right now:

Rivera, Papelbon, F. Cordero, C. Cordero, Valverde, Hoffman, Putz, F. Rodriguez,
Saito, Isringhausen, Wagner, Nathan, Gagne

Then you have guys like Street, Okajima, Soriano, Otsuka, Betancourt, Neshek,
and Shields who could close regularly but aren't.

I said Capps is in that top 20 or so range, I never said he was horrible. Top
15? That's a bit of a stretch."
First off, I screwed up an earlier stat on Capps' ERA. But in the grand scheme of things, that's irrelevant. Lets break this down.

To begin, Sportsline has Capps ranked as the 13th best relief pitcher. I'm not saying Sportsline is the end all be all, but the formula the guy uses to calculate the rankings has to be decent or he wouldn’t have a job (Pete Prisco shoots down this argument, however). But since you presented me a list I'd love to tear it apart.

You furnished me 20 relievers who you say you'd rather have than Capps. I threw out Huston Street because he’s been on the DL since May 15th and has only pitched 18 innings. I don’t know what magical ranking you were looking at but I guess they didn’t have an innings threshold. First I'll give you this handy spreadsheet with some key stats of all the relievers, ranked by ERA:

(Click the spreadsheet to see a clearer image)

Next, here are Capps' rankings in all those categories:

Innings Pitched: 1st
Wins: 1st
Losses: 20th
Saves: 13th
Blown Saves: Tied for 2nd with 6 other players ( 1 each)
Strikeouts: 13th
Walks: Tied for 9th with 2 others
HBP: Tied for 19th with 1 other
BAA: Tied for 17th with 1 other
HRs: Tied for 7th with a bunch of guys
ERA: 14th

If he was the closer from the beginning of the year his save numbers would undoubtedly be higher. Being 13th on the list, and 15th in the league as a whole, is impressive. His batting average against is a bit high, but his ERA sits snugly at 14th. Combining these stats with all the other categories falling better than 15th, other than meaningless HBP (one was 'justified' when he splattered Prince Fielder) and the losses (which is also tough to gauge due to small numbers, along with wins), puts Capps at right around 13th-14th of those listed. But if you really want me to name 5 guys from your list who are worse than Capps and give a reason, I'd be elated:

1. Chad Cordero: I can't believe you picked this guy. 6 blown saves, same batting average against and a 3.00 ERA.

2. Mariano Rivera: .254 BAA and 3.71 ERA. He’s not the same pitcher of old. And if you say you’d still want him than you’re no better than Littlefield signing the likes of Burnitz and Randa.

3. Akinori Otsuka: In the 4 chances he's been given to save a game, he's blown 3 of them. Must be a little bit different pitching in the 7th and 8th than the 9th. His .218 BAA is barely an improvement while his 2.51 ERA is worse

4. Joe Nathan: I know this will be the one that most people disagree with me on, but bear with me. First off, his batting average against is higher at .250, with a .291 OBP. His ERA was at 2.29 a couple games ago before working clean up duty in a 6-2 win and a 12-0 win over the Yankees and White Sox respectively, a mere .08 points lower than Capps. The deal-breaker is pitches per inning. Capps is at 13.8 pitches/inning while Nathan has a rather discomforting 17.5 pitches/inning. The only guys on this list with similar pitches per inning as Nathan are Valverde, Chad Cordero, and F. Rodriguez. Not only does this mean he is getting in more jams, but he also is a good candidate to fade down the stretch. By the way, that 13.8 pitches/inning from Capps is the lowest of any guy with a save, and possibly in all of baseball (could not find a ranking)

5. Jose Valverde: Valverde’s BAA is only .198 but his on-base percentage is .286, with an ERA of 2.83. Capps’ OBP is .276 with an ERA 2.37. If both players will let runners on I’ll take guy with the lower ERA who regularly gets twin-killings and knows how to get out of a jam.

On top of all of this, after Capps assumed the closers' role on June 2nd he has since accumulated a 1.35 ERA and a .202 BAA, which would put him 5th in ERA and 14th in BAA among this group. I have not even touched on the intangibles, such as age, salary, and attitude, the last of which it seems all successful closers possess. Capps passes the test in all three. Is he Mariano in his prime? No. But is he a top 15 closer in this league? Absolutely.

Sorry Wanny, maybe you should stick to football. I do look forward to when I say something stupid in the fall and you jump all over me for it. But for now, from all the Matt Capps supporters out there:

(Actual photo of the 'Stache....minus the real 'stache)

End of Post

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