Wednesday, September 06, 2006

AL Playoff Race: The Starters (An Addendum)

Ben Valentine from the newly revamped Sportszilla and the Jabber Jocks weighs in on the AL contending starters.

I listed the starters FIP (fielding independent pitching) and xFIP (FIP with homer rates normalized) courtesy of Hardball Times
Bonderman- 3.04 3.44
Verlander- 4.09 4.50
Rogers- 4.86 4.76
Roberston 4.68 4.45

Mussina- 3.49 3.84
Wang- 3.97 4.30
Johnson- 4.47 4.52

Haren: 3.86 3.93
Blanton: 3.95 5.01
Zito: 4.86 5.34

White Sox-
Contrares- 4.12 4.76
Vasquez- 4.21 4.63
Garland- 4.52 4.84
Garcia- 4.87 4.73
Buerhle- 4.93 4.87

Santana: 3.19 3.36
Radke: 4.64 4.74

The most underrated guy on here is Jeremy Bonderman. After Santana and Liriano, he should be the best pitcher in the postseason. His VORP rating and RA+ aren't as good as the others, but that's likely because of his high BABIP. Over at Hardball Times they have his FIP at a whopping 3.04! Even if you normalize his homer rate with xFIP, it's still just 3.44. His FIP is 1st in the A.L. and his xFIP is second to Santana. Mussina is a good pitcher, but I'd rather have Bonderman. Unfortunately, Leyland will probably pitch him #3 in the series, unless they're really worried about Verlander's arm.

The A's are interesting. Dan Haren is actually their ace as his 3.86 FIP would indicate. However the A's will probably pitch him #2 and as a result will have the edge against any team that doesn't have Liriano. Zito I really don't like with his 4.86 FIP and his even higher xFIP, though that's somewhat mediated by ballpark I'd imagine. Blanton actually should be more effective, so he's capable of matching up with anyone's third in October. Of course this doesn't account for the wild card which is Rich Harden.

The Yankees ace is Mike Mussina, not Wang. That being said, Wang gives the Yankees the best second starter outside of Liriano, as he's better than Verlander, Blanton or any Chi Sox starter. Johnson is a third at this point and while he's not as bad as his actual ERA indicates, he's at best a wash with these teams #3 (even the White Sox) and potentially worse (A's)

You're dead on with the Sox. They're a rotation of third and fourth starters.

Finally, I think the Twins numbers are misleading. For starters, it looks as though they'll have Liriano back. Secondly, the young pitchers are unproven, but unless they tank, Silva will probably not see a postseason start (which is why I didn't list him). Remember, they'll have to pitch well if the Twins are going to get in, so I expect either Garza or Bonser to find their way into the postseason rotation especially if Radke can't make it back. They will be unpredictable; no Yankee fan should want to see them come October. You could pull off a sweep or get swept.

The Yankees rotation would probably rank fourth if the Twins make it. But the key with the Yankees is that their offense is by far the best, so they still end up being the best team.