Monday, August 20, 2007

A better starting rotation

Yesterday's amazing performance against the Nats by the 41-year-old Orlando Hernandez makes me wish the Mets had a four-man rotation, as teams in years past did with their starters. With that rotation, Hernandez and Tom Glavine could pitch more games while the other three starters, John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Brian Lawrence would get fewer starts.

Further, given the performance of the Mets starters beyond Glavine and Hernandez, for my third starter I'd prefer Brian Bannister. This past Friday Bannister pitched a complete game for Kansas City, picking up his ninth win. Only two Mets have pitched complete games this season. Glavine and Maine have each pitched one.

Who would I take as my fourth starter? John Maine. My fifth starter would be Perez.

A way to measure a pitcher's effectiveness is through the use of two statistics: VORP and WARP.

Here is the 2006 VORP and WARP for each member of my starting rotation.


VORP means Value Above Replacement Player. For a pitcher, a positive number represents the number of fewer runs that the pitcher prevented the other teams from scoring compared with what a replacement-level pitcher would have surrendered. A negative VORP means that he gave up more runs than a replacement-level pitcher would have. Looking at the VORPs in the above table, Glavine was the most valuable starter on the Mets.

For the Mets, Jason Vargas, Mike Pelfrey, and Dave Williams, all of whom have been Triple-A call-ups this season, represent replacement-level pitchers.

WARP means Wins Above Replacement Player. WARP refers to the number of additional games a pitcher won for his team beyond what a replacement-level pitcher would have won. For example, last season Glavine won 15 games. In his place, a replacement-level pitcher would have won about nine.

Why would I make Bannister my #3 starter ahead of Maine and Perez? Since the All-Star break he's gone 4-2 with a 2.64 ERA. In comparison, though Maine had a higher VORP last season than did Bannister, this season since the break Maine's been 3-3 with a 6.31 ERA and Perez has been 4-2 with a 4.39.

By the way, Ambiorix Burgos, the reliever whom the Mets traded Bannister for, is not even in the majors. He was pitching for the GCL Mets, a Rookie League team, and just joined the Zephyrs.

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