Starting pitching, 2010 vs. 2011

I started to write a reply to this FanPost by Dan Pietrusinski (REALLY hard name to spell), looked up like 20 things, and rambled on and on, so I'm reformatting it into it's own post.

First:  I really liked the post, Dan.  It's obvious to anyone who sees Pittsburgh games or reads boxscores that the pitching staff is better this year, but I hadn't set about quantifying how much better they've been (formatting sketchy because I'm not very smart; apologies in advance).

all stats courtesy of BBref...

                                              2010                                               2011

Games Started                     162                                                    77

 Wins                                         34                                                    29

Losses                                      84                                                   25

Complete Games                     1                                                      4

Quality Starts                              71                                                   43

Quality Start %                         44%                                                 56%

League Average QS%            53%                                                 55%

Innings/Start                             5.4                                                    6.0

League Average IP/GS           5.9                                                    6.0

Pitches/Start                               89                                                     92

League Average Pit/GS           96                                                      97

Starters Used                           11                                                       6

Average Age of Starters         28.6                                                  28.2



Clearly, the 2011 Pittsburgh starting staff is superior to the 2010 version.  I included the league averages for QS%, IP/GS, and Pit/GS because they normalize the statistical gap for the renaissance in pitching that's happening this season...  2011 blows 2010 away in those two categories, but they're still around league-average.  This is no knock on 2011; "average" is much better than "awful".

I was interested in the names appearing as starting pitchers.  The sheer number difference denotes lots of injury and/or ineffectiveness, but the age has actually gone down while the 5 returners (Karstens, Maholm, McDonald, Morton, and Ohlendorf) are all a year older and the other 2011 guy, Kevin Correija, is the oldest of that bunch at 30.  Chris Jakabauskas probably makes the age difference artificially inflate (he was 31 and started one game, lasting 2/3 of an inning) and might be the only reason for the numerical difference (still impressive since 83% of this year's starters just aged a year).

Analysis:  Not re-inventing the wheel; the starters are just pitching better.  They're throwing virtually the same number of pitches per game, but are lasting about a half-inning longer; meaning they're being much more efficient as well as effective.  They've already completed 4 times as many games as 2010 in less than 48% of the season.  Instead of all batters being Jacoby Ellsbury (.303 batting average against) against 2010 Paul Maholm, they're more like Ben Francisco (.225) against the 2011 incarnation.  They're pitching collectively better than anyone anticipated and it's common belief that they'll regress (the whole staff ranks last in the league in K's), but the Pirates entire pitching staff has a .287 BaBIP (not impossible to sustain), trails only Roy Halladay in the NL in CG's, the staff's LD% is right below league average (18%:19%), and is actually just below the league average in Game Scores for their starters (51:52).  This is not unsustainable production.



This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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