This post is (a) talking about the issues, but also (b) keeping it funky.
Philadelphia at San Francisco | NLCS, Game Five | 7:57pm ET
Phillies: Roy Halladay
250.2 IP, 7.86 K/9, 1.08 BB/9, .298 BABIP, 51.2% GB, 11.3% HR/FB, 2.92 xFIP, 6.6 WAR
Giants: Tim Lincecum
212.1 IP, 9.79 K/9, 3.22 BB/9, .324 BABIP, 48.9% GB, 9.9% HR/FB, 3.21 xFIP, 5.1 WAR
In the event that you weren’t there to witness it in its primetime glory, allow me to tell you briefly about the show My Two Dads. Actually, allow me to allow Wikipedia to tell you:
The show begins when Marcy Bradford (Emma Samms), the mother of Nicole Bradford (Staci Keanan), dies. The two men who had competed for the woman’s affections before Nicole was born — Michael Taylor (Paul Reiser) and Joey Harris (Greg Evigan) — are awarded joint custody of Nicole. The mix-ups of two single straight men raising a teen-aged daughter provided the story each week. Judge Margaret W. Wilbur (Florence Stanley), a family court judge, would frequently visit the new family and served as Nicole’s mentor.
That’s not a bad description of the show but for one omission: any mention of the respective dads’ equal and opposite personalities. Reiser’s Michael is conservative, deliberate, and works in finance; Evigan’s Joey — well, that pierced ear should tell you everything you need to know. Dude is crazy!
In any case, the moral of exactly every episode of My Two Dads goes like this: Michael and Joey are different people, and this is made manifest in their approaches to parenting, but both are equally good dads because of how much they love their little Nicole.
Tonight’s pitching match-up, if I may blow your minds for a minute, is like an episode of My Two Dads written for baseball. Halladay is Reiser: understated, efficient. Lincecum is Joey: unorthodox, long-haired, marijuana. But both arrive at the same fundamental end — i.e. dominating their opponent.
The differences/similarities are perhaps most notable in each pitcher’s walk and strikeout numbers. If we judge the two pitchers’ command by the traditional K:BB, Halladay wins easily: 6.3:1 versus Lincecum’s 3.1:1. Those are both good ratios, but Halladay has the advantage on account of his low walk rates.
However, the always-right Tom Tango wrote in March that, rather than using K:BB ratio to adjudge command, we actually ought to use the difference between a pitcher’s strikeouts and walks per batter faced. By that measure, here are the top-10 pitchers this season (with at least 10 starts):
What you’ll notice there — besides the fact that Stephen Strasburg needs to get well soon and Cliff Lee is acually a robot-person — is that Lincecum, though he has a considerably less impressive K:BB ratio than Halladay, actually compares favorably so far as strikeout and walk difference is concerned. Like Joey, he takes an unorthodox approach to his job (parenting, pitching), but ends up in roughly the same places as his more conservative counterpart.
Of course, the analogy isn’t air-tight. Owing to his whiff-based approach, it follows that Lincecum is forced to throw more pitches. In fact, he threw 16.2 per inning this season — as opposed to Halladay’s 14.2. That adds up: Halladay pitched almost 40 more innings in the same exact number of starts (33) as Lincecum. Over the course of the season, that’s valuable.
We can assume that tonight, however — in our first elimination game of the Championship Series — that pitch counts will take a back seat to victory. In this single match-up we’ll be able see each pitcher become entirely himself.