Sunday, May 1, 2016

AL Cy Young: Quantity vs. Quality

How do you measure quantity vs. quality in pitching stats?  How do you evaluate the park effects on stats?  We try to answer these questions to some degree every year, but probably never as starkly as this season.

For convenience, I'm going to narrow this debate down to Philips vs. Stock.  Gonzalez' candidacy is based almost entirely on his win total (23), which is a largely circumstantial stat, especially for relievers.  So he's out.  Of the 3 starters, Philips seems to have had the best season.  He clearly pitched better than Andujar (.666 OPS against vs. .699, both with the same home park), and given that his OPS-against was only slightly higher than Wilson's (.650) in a much more hitter-friendly venue, he gets the nod.

The case for Shane Philips:  20-8, 2.99 ERA, 238 innings pitched:  pretty traditional Cy Young numbers, especially when accomplished in a cozy home park.  (Home OPS-against was .722, Away OPS-against was .602).
The case against: the only case against Philips is the "quality trumps quantity" argument - even accounting for park effects, Stock pitched a lot better.

The case for Sam Stock:  Not only did he lead the league in every qualitative stat (batting ave against, OBP against, Slugging % against, WHIP and ERA) by a wide margin, he was in the top 5 all-time in all 5 stats (setting a new world low for ERA).  No other pitcher in Hobbs history has had a season that placed in the top 5 in all 5 qualitative stats (Orlando Fernandez' Season 22 was in the top 5 for 4 of the 5, missing in ERA).
The case against:  the only case against Stock is the "good quality plus quantity trumps great quality" argument - 172 IP vs 238 for Philips.  Fwiw, Stock's road ops-against (to get some comparison absent home park effects) was a microscopic .462.

Since I have a dog in the hunt, I'm sitting out the "Should Win" recommendation.  Both are worthy candidates.

Park Effects
Andujar, Philips:            (2 3 2 2 3)
Gonzalez, Stock:          (1 1 1 1 1)
Wilson:                          (1 2 3 -2 -2)


  1. If Philips was a 200 IP pitcher, I would go with Stock, but that extra 60 innings is pretty big to me. Close to be sure, but I voted for the SP.

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