Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Interesting little contrast today in baseball. Kevin Millwood signed with the Rangers for $48 mil over 4 years. Did you know that in 2005 his ERA at home and his ERA on the road were identical? 2.86 at the Jake, 2.86 everywhere else. Isn't that cool? Jason Johnson signed a one year deal with the Indians, who were looking to fill the void left by Millwood. Johnson's home/road splits were, let's just say, somewhat less even, as he pitched to a 2.76 ERA at Comerica Park and a devilish 6.66 ERA (what a pun!) on the road. To add a wrinkle to this, Johnson also pitched for the Tigers in 2004 and had the opposite results - 5.98 ERA in Detroit, a respectable 4.14 ERA on the road. Strange, right? Say, I've never been to Detroit - is it true that Axel Foley's music follows the Detroit cops around wherever they go? I'm sorry, that had nothing to do with anything.

Incidentally, Jason Johnson singlehandedly cost me over a hundred bucks this year. Knowing his drastic splits, I picked him up in my daily change roto league, starting him only at home. He was due to start on Sunday and was on my bench Friday afternoon in favor of other players. On Saturday night I went to my comp to check my team and what do I see? He had been moved up and started on Saturday! And, because he pitched in Detroit, he pitched very well and got the win. Yippeeeee!!! Fast forward to the end of the season, when I finished tied for 3rd in wins, and overall half a point off a tie for first in the league. That's right, one more win all year and I get that extra half point in wins, and, thus, a share of first place. So thanks Jason Johnson, and thank you Alan Trammell. I don't want to say that God is on my side, but we see who received several job offers from big firms in NYC and who was fired by the Detroit Tigers and doesn't have a shot at making the Hall of Fame. Yeah, that's right, kiss it Trammell.

But really, how peculiar is that 2004/2005 split result? Not that I've really looked before, but I can't imagine something like that is all too common. I'd love an explanation. Perhaps Rob Neyer has some Bill Jamesian formula that none of us truly understands: "This phenomenon is easily predicted by taking the number of day games Johnson pitched in 2003, divided by the starts he got in Boston, minus all strikeouts he had from the sixth inning onward in 2004, plus eleven, which was his uniform number in high school. Of course, this all must be computed in base-6. I call this formula, How to Predict When a Pitcher's Home/Road Splits Will Go From One Extreme to the Other in the Span of a Year, or HTPWAPHRSWGFOETTOITSOAY. In ten years we'll marvel that this stat was once not commonly used."

As for Millwood, he isn't a bad pitcher, and he's certainly coming off a very strong year. But "he isn't a bad pitcher" isn't the same as "he's an ace or damn near close." Generally, $12 mil a year should go to the latter, not the former. I think Millwood is gonna help the Rangers, and they needed his services. But his career has been too up and down to justify paying him like that. You'd think the organization that is just finishing up paying Chan Ho Park's contract would be a little more cautious. I also question just where the market for Millwood was. There's always a market for pitching, but was there such a clamor for him that the Rangers couldn't have gotten him for a Matt Morris type of deal ($24 for 3)? So yeah, the Rangers get better on the field for 2006, but at quite the hefty cost. I don't see how they aren't gonna regret this thing midway through. Well at least Tom Hicks doesn't have like $60 mil locked up in a star player to play for anoth....oh....oooh boy.... really put my foot in my mouth there, didn't I?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neyer's spelling of "phenomenon" has just ruined my faith in Sabermetrics. Thanks, Eric!

4:20 PM  

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