Thursday August 19, 2004
TWINS 7, YANKEES 2
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORT
Johan Santana was again near the top of his game on the mound against the Yankees last night. He was impressive. Mainstream media is finally starting to recognize just how amazing Johan Santana has been this year. It is most impressive because of just how bad Santana started the season. Take a look at Santana's statistics this season, by month:
Month Games Record ERA
April 5 1-0 5.40
May 6 1-3 5.79
June 5 4-1 2.39
July 6 3-2 1.17
August 4 4-0 2.54
If you are interested in how that looks graphically, here is a quick graph of his ERA following each of his 26 starts, through last night:
So, is Santana the front-runner for the Cy Young Award? It is so difficult to guess what the voters are looking for in a Cy Young winner. Is it dominance? Is it Wins? Is it ERA and "other" statistical reasons? Can a relief pitcher qualify?
I happen to think that if the vote was taken today, Oakland's Mark Mulder would win the award. And, to be honest, it is really hard to disagree with that. Mulder has had a very spectacular year. Last night, he won his 16th game of the season, with just four losses. But, if Wins are what matters, then our friend Kenny Rogers and his 15-5 record have to be up for consideration, right? But in reality, Rogers' teammate in Texas, Ryan Drese has put up far better "others" numbers. Boston's combination of Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling have to be considered. And, if you want a closer included in the discussion, the Twins Joe Nathan is really the only one in the American League who could be considered. Think about this... Eric Gagne went 85 games between blown saves, right? Well, in that same time, he actually came into a game with the score tied and lost three times during that stretch. Now consider that Joe Nathan has pitched 28 consecutive games without giving up a run (Since June 6), regardless of the situation. He has converted 34 of 35 save opportunities, and his ERA is 0.82. Last year, Eric Gagne was a runaway winner of the NL Cy Young. For that matter, the Twins Brad Radke should be considered a viable Cy Young candidate. In my mind, it should be a two player race for the award, but let's just take a quick look at these candidates and see how they stack up against each other.
If you've been checking out this site for awhile, you will remember a study that The Baseball Savant did last month that looked at some of these numbers as well. (Note - be sure to check out today's entry by the Savant. He discusses an experience that I know I am nowhere near smart enough to partake in, the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test)).
Anyway, I will basically just be updating that study with some different numbers and analysis of my own.
I am just going to look at the numbers of the eight pitchers I would even consider for the AL Cy Young Award. Even a couple of these guys (namely the Rangers) really aren't up for consideration in my mind. I include them in the study to almost show why.
OK, you know how I feel about the Win statistic. Yes, I think it is important and is a good-ol' traditional stat, more so for a starter, but I do think that it is vastly overrated because it is so dependant upon the team's offense as much as the pitcher. The reason Kenny Rogers WILL get consideration for this award is the very reason that Brad Radke WILL NOT. However, here are how my eight candidates stack up in terms of wins:
1.) Mark Mulder 16
2.) Kenny Rogers 15
3.) Curt Schilling 14
4.) Johan Santana 13
4.) Pedro Martinez 13
6.) Ryan Drese 10
7.) Brad Radke 8
8.) Joe Nathan 1
I think that a pitcher can somewhat control his ERA. Sure, one could argue that this and some of the other stats we'll look at are still dependant upon the defense behind him, but this is a better indicator. I don't think it is fair to compare starters and closers on many of these categories for a couple of reasons, but if I'm going to say that Joe Nathan is a candidate, he should be mentioned along with the rest. I also think that we start to see how run production has really helped Kenny Rogers out this year.
1.) Joe Nathan 0.82
2.) Johan Santana 3.23
3.) Ryan Drese 3.33
4.) Brad Radke 3.55
5.) Curt Schilling 3.60
6.) Mark Mulder 3.75
7.) Pedro Martinez 3.78
8.) Kenny Rogers 4.55
I don't think that innings pitched is a huge factor in determining the Cy Young Award. However, it does show why starters should get stronger consideration.
1.) Mark Mulder 185
2.) Johan Santana 173
3.) Brad Radke 170
4.) Curt Schilling 167.2
5.) Pedro Martinez 166.2
6.) Ryan Drese 159.2
7.) Kenny Rogers 158.1
8.) Joe Nathan 54.2
K/9 Innings Pitched
This statistic probably shows which pitchers are more dominant than others. Some believe that this stat is very important. I am middle-of-the-road on it. Yes, I think sometimes a strikeout can be very important, but I do think that an out is an out. That said, some situations really cry for a strikeout and this stat shows which guys have the ability to get it. This is a stat that makes you wonder how much 'luck' has played a role in Ryan Drese's success.
1.) Joe Nathan 10.9
2.) Johan Santana 10.2
3.) Pedro Martinez 9.18
4.) Curt Schilling 7.68
5.) Brad Radke 5.98
6.) Mark Mulder 5.79
7.) Kenny Rogers 5.06
8.) Ryan Drese 3.78
Batting Average Against/On-Base Percentage Against/Slugging Percentage Against
Basically, when looking at a hitter's statistics, you can't just look at their batting average. The type of hitter they are is shown as much in the other stats. Same with pitchers. Batting Average against is nice to look at, but at the same time, their opponent's on-base percentage factors in walks, and slugging percentage against tells us if the pitcher gives up a lot of extra-base hits. Brad Radke may give up a higher batting average, but because he walks so few, he allows fewer runners to get on-base than you'd think. So, I think all three need to be viewed.
BAA OBP Against SLG% Against
1.) Joe Nathan .174 1.) Joe Nathan .250 1.) Joe Nathan .237
2.) Johan Santana .205 2.) Johan Santana .266 2.) Ryan Drese .358
3.) Pedro Martinez .239 3.) Curt Schilling .287 3.) Johan Santana .359
4.) Mark Mulder .243 4.) Brad Radke .288 4.) Mark Mulder .378
5.) Curt Schilling .256 5.) Pedro Martinez .294 5.) Pedro Martinez .395
6.) Ryan Drese .259 6.) Mark Mulder .309 6.) Brad Radke .397
7.) Brad Radke .266 7.) Ryan Drese .315 7.) Curt Schilling .416
8.) Kenny Rogers .289 8.) Kenny Rogers .342 8.) Kenny Rogers .448
WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched)
Along with ERA, I believe this is a great statistic to show how good a pitcher really is at controlling those things that they really can control. This is another place where Johan Santana starts to separate himself from the rest. It may seem like I'm mocking Kenny Rogers because he shows up near the bottom of many of these lists. I really don't mean to do that. He is having a very strong year. The fact that his hits allowed and average against and other numbers are so high does not deter from the 15 wins that he has. In fact, it makes what he's done more impressive because likely he has had to work out of some tough situations, and done well enough to keep his team in the lead.
1.) Joe Nathan 0.93
2.) Johan Santana 1.00
3.) Brad Radke 1.14
3.) Pedro Martinez 1.14
5.) Curt Schilling 1.16
6.) Mark Mulder 1.22
7.) Ryan Drese 1.27
8.) Kenny Rogers 1.43
VORP (Value Over Replacement Pitcher)
This is a complex all-encompassing statistic that shows just how much better the pitcher is than the average big league pitcher. It takes many numbers into account. Again, this is another strong case for Johan Santana. His 50.4 VORP is second in the big leagues to only the Giants' Jason Schmidt (58). Again, Kenny Rogers is at the bottom of the list. His VORP is listed at 21.1, and puts him well below the others on this list. To put that into perspective, Carlos Silva's VORP is 22.0. In other words, again, it is very solid, but not spectacular by any means. For those of your who were so sure that Kris Benson was a good option for the Twins, his VORP is -1.9!
1.) Johan Santana 50.4
2.) Curt Schilling 45.6
3.) Mark Mulder 44.9
4.) Brad Radke 44.2
5.) Ryan Drese 43.1
6.) Pedro Martinez 39.9
7.) Joe Nathan 31.9
8.) Kenny Rogers 21.1
Well, I am not going to combine the rankings of all of these candidates and divide them by the number of categories. First, that's too much work and math and secondly, I don't think that "best pitcher" can completely be measured by numbers. I do think that the closers role and specifically the Save statistic are greatly over-rated. That said, the closer role has become a valued pitching role in baseball and therefore it needs to be included in the discussion. I know I am missing a few guys that I would probably rank ahead of at least Kenny Rogers. Tim Hudson has been terrific, but has missed too much time. Mark Buehrle and Jake Westbrook have been very solid. Mariano Rivera and Francisco Cordero are closers just a notch behind Joe Nathan. But if I had a vote and had to cast it today, here is how I would vote (Trying not to be too big a Twins homer):
1.) Johan Santana
2.) Mark Mulder
3.) Curt Schilling
4.) Brad Radke
5.) Joe Nathan
6.) Pedro Martinez
7.) Ryan Drese
8.) Kenny Rogers
So there you have it. A little background to prove that when you hear that Johan Santana should be the AL Cy Young leading candidate, it isn't just something that comes out of nowhere. Also, be sure not to bash Mark Mulder when arguing that Santana should win because Mulder has put together a great season as well. Also, don't forget about Brad Radke. He doesn't have the name. He's not flashy, but he has been incredible.
Obviously, there is a lot of season left to play and so much can happen. Maybe one of these candidates will pull away. What do you think? Is the vote obvious? Is it at least down to two viable candidates at this point? Is it realistic that three Twins pitchers could really finish in the Top 5 in AL Cy Young voting? Any thoughts? E-mail me.
TWINS TOP YANKEES 8-2
After seeing Brad Radke mix speeds nicely to beat the Yankees, Johan Santana did a lot of the same. He used his fastball, slurve and changeup to baffle the Yankees lineup. Granted, the Yankees again played without Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi, but there are still some great hitters left in that Yankees lineup.
Johan Santana improved to 13-6 with seven strong innings. The two runs he gave up actually came in the 8th inning. He gave up just five hits and a walk. He struck out six. Grant Balfour got the team out of the 8th. Joe Nathan pitched another scoreless inning in the 9th.
The Twins jumped on Mike Mussina. It was Moose's first start in six weeks, so he was limited. He went just four innings and the Twins scored four runs off him. Shannon Stewart led off the bottom of the first with a home run. Then in the fourth, Cristian Guzman ripped a double off the baggy in right-center to score two runs. Later, he scored on a two out double by Stewart. Tanyon Sturtze pitched the final four innings for the Yankees. In the 6th, the Twins scored another run on a double play by Stewart. Later, on an 0-2 pitch, Jacque Jones attacked a pitch that was outside and hit it over the left field fence. Torii Hunter doubled to right and Justin Morneau singled him in. So, the Twins had a touchdown lead. The Yankees scored both of their runs in the 8th inning.
Shannon Stewart led the way. He was 3-5 with his 14th double and 7th home run. Corey Koskie remained hot going 2-3 with a walk and a double. It was really a game where each Twin contributed, well, except for Luis Rivas who was again in the starting lineup.
INCREASES LEAD - The Twins beat the Yankees and last night they got help from Hank Blalock (2 HR) and the Texas Rangers who beat the Indians for the third straight night. The White Sox remain 5 back with their win over the Tigers. Here are the current standings in the division:
Current AL Central Standings
Minnesota Twins 66-53 --
Cleveland Indians 63-59 4.5
Chicago White Sox 60-57 5.0
Here is the pitching matchup for tonight's series finale:
Tonight - 7:10 Carlos Silva (10-8, 4.52, 1.47, .318) vs Orlando Hernandez (5-0, 2.08, 1.26, .226)
So, how can you explain the Twins? They look so bad against the Indians and look so good against the Yankees in the first two games of the series. What are your thoughts? E-mail me.
(the below was posted yesterday along with my analysis of Brad Radke's performance. Please e-mail me your response to this question. Responses will be posted here tomorrow. Thanks!)
What is an 'Ace'? What does a pitcher need to do to be considered an 'ace'? Is it simply being the veteran on the pitching staff? The starter with the longest tenure on a team? The guy with the most wins? The guy with the best stuff? The guy who throws the hardest or has the most 'dominant' stuff? Is an 'ace' the guy you want to pitch Game 1 of a playoff series, or Game 7?
Who would you consider to be the ace of the Minnesota Twins pitching staff? (E-mail me if you'd like to give your opinion.)
Is it 31 year old Brad Radke? Following last night's impressive win over the New York Yankees, Radke is now 8-6 with a 3.55 ERA this year. He has allowed 1.14 base runners per inning, which is great. He has been in the Twins starting rotation since June of 1995, a decade. He has pitched over 2,000 innings. He has won 123 games in his career. He won 20 games in a season. He has pitched in the playoffs. These are the things an ace does.
Or, is it 25 year old Johan Santana? Santana gets the starting nod against the Yankees tonight. He is currently 12-6 with a 3.25 ERA. He's striking out 10.3 per nine innings. He allows just 1.01 base runners per inning, which is simply incredible. He leads the American League in strikeouts with 190. This is Santana's fifth season with the Twins. His ERA in 2002 was 2.99. In 2003, it was 3.05. But this is just his first full season in the Twins starting rotation.
So, who is the Twins ace? The underrated, solid veteran (Brad Radke) or the young, dominant Johan Santana? (I'm just going to assume that we all agree that Carlos Silva, Terry Mulholland and Kyle Lohse are not up for consideration by anyone...)
Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic. E-mail me.
Seth's Opinion - WHO CARES?????????? Does it really matter? Isn't it really just nice to know that the Twins really have two "aces," two guys that I have complete confidence will give the Twins a chance to win no matter who they are playing? Maybe the debate is valid? Maybe it is important. I just don't think so.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE REPORTS
REDWINGS 12, Syracuse 3 - After scoring 11 runs the day before, the Redwings scored a dozen runs yesterday. Terry Tiffee led the way with a 4-4 day, including a walk and his 12th home run. Jason Kubel was 3-5 with his 13th homer and 3 RBI. Luis Rodriguez was 3-3 with a walk. Michael Restovich was 2-5 with his 19th home run. Jason Bartlett hit his 2nd homer and drove in two. Kevin West hit his second Rochester homer and knocked in three runners. JD Durbin was the recipient of the big bat day. He got the win by going five innings. He gave up two runs on six hits. The concern would come from the five walks, but he also struck out six. Aaron Fultz pitched two more scoreless innings.
NEW BRITAIN ROCKCATS
ROCKCATS 8, Portland 6 - Boof Bonser notched his 10th win of the year. He went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on three hits and two walks. Bobby Korecky recorded his 24th save. Garrett Jones went 3-5 with his 30th double. James Tomlin was 2-4 with a walk and his first homer and three RBI. Jake Mauer was 2-5. Gabby Torres hit his first homer.
FT MYERS MIRACLE
Game 1 - MIRACLE 0, Lakeland 2 - Ft. Myers was only able to scratch out three singles in this game. Jesus Merchan was 1-1 with a walk. John Thomas started and went three innings. He did not allow a run. He gave up two hits and struck out one. Josh Gray pitched the final three innings. He gave up the two runs on two his and a walk.
Game 2 - MIRACLE 6, Lakeland 4 - Nick Blackburn improves to 3-1 with the five inning win. He allowed just a run on five hits and two walks. Pat Neshek picked up another Save, his 9th, with a scoreless ninth. Doug Deeds led the offense, going 2-3 with a triple and a walk. Kaulana Kuhaulua was 2-3 with an RBI as well. Alex Romero hit his third homer on the season.
SWING OF THE QUAD CITIES
SWING 1, Ft. Wayne 7 - The Swing were only able to record two hits in this game. JR Taylor was 1-3 with a walk and Brock Peterson had the other single. Scott Whitrock had the lone RBI. Adam Harben struggled. In three innings, he gave up six runs (5 earned) on six hits and five walks. He did strike out six. Tristan Crawford came in for three innings and allowed just a run on three hits and two walks. Julio DePaula and Eric Brandon each pitched a scoreless inning.
E-TWINS - There were no games scheduled in the Appalachian League.
Thanks again for stopping by this site. What do you think about the "Ace" question? If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future postings, please e-mail me.
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