baseball gods productions

Thoughts about baseball, from the perspective of sports psychology and the role of sports in society. It includes team and player analysis, predictions, and what I think needs to be changed in Major League Baseball. Brought to you from the heart of baseball, Brooklyn, by baseball gods productions.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Why Baseball Is A Crazy Game

Who's better, Johan Santana or Oliver Perez?

Stupid question, right? Well, if you look at wins and losses, Santana is 3-2 and Perez is 0-2. If you look at ERA, though, Perez is at 4.50 and Santana at 4.54. ERA usually represents a decent, if quick, look at pitching performance, but obviously it is useless this year in answering my question.

The difference between Santana and Perez is that Santana knows how to pitch, is a great competitor, and is capable of winning even without his best stuff. Perez, not so much. One additional statistic that begins to differentiate between the two pitchers is innings pitched.

Santana has pitched 41 2/3 innings in seven starts so far (5.95 per game), while Perez has pitched 30 innings in six starts (5 per game). Santana has pitched fewer than 6 innings twice so far, while Perez has pitched six or more innings just twice.

I'm sure that by the end of the season, Santana's ERA will be considerable lower than Perez's, but it's really strange that their ERAs are so close right now, given that most fans would love to see Perez kicked out of the starting rotation (if not out of New York City altogether), and few people are suggesting that Santana is hurting the team.

Again, I suggest that the best solution to the team's problem with its starting rotation is to use John Maine and Oliver Perez as costarters, essentially sharing one game every five days, while adding Hisanori Takahashi or calling up Dillon Gee to be the team's fourth starter.

I don't know why teams don't get creative with this stuff, given that starters can barely pitch six innings nowadays, and there is so much reliance on questionable bullpens to decide games. What about having eight starters who split games, with a four man rotation of four sets of costarters? You would need no more than three extra pitchers, all of whom should have experience coming into a game with men on base and being able to close out a game when necessary.

Ideally, you would have four righty starters and four lefties, and you would chose the one to actually start based on the opponent, ballpark, and how well the two are performing at the time. The other starter would come in around the 5th or 6th inning, but only to start an inning, never with runners on base. That's what the three extra guys are for.

If you have a guy like Roy Halladay, then you would use either six costarters for the three games following Halladay (assuming he's willing to pitch on three days' rest most of the time), or eight costarters, with Halladay pitching 8 or 9 innings every fifth day.

The whole concept of starting pitchers is practically pointless given that pitchers pitch much more effectively when they are in the bullpen and don't have to see the same hitters three or more times every game. With a costarter system, the starters and the backup starters would only see a hitter twice a game for the most part, thus theoretically at least, improving his performance.

In addition, the lefty-righty substitution would screw up any platooning that the opponents are doing, an added benefit.

Bear in mind, however, that my real solution to the crappy pitching across MLB is to go back to Nolan Ryan's system: complete games by "real" starters who know how to pitch, and know how to finish what they start. Back to 9 or 10 man pitching staffs, and a bench of position players, with a third catcher and everything.

Either way, though, no more 12 and 13 man pitching staffs! And no more Eighth Inning Guys (or baseball gods forbid, Seventh Inning Specialists).

Caroms Off the Wall

Even with the unfortunate loss today, the Mets are still better than I expected. And the Red Sox are much worse. Baseball is a really crazy game.

© Judy Kamilhor 2010


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