Was Verlander Better than Halladay?

Justin Verlander won the Cy Young and the MVP award after a tremendous 2011 season. Roy Halladay — who posted similar numbers — went home with nothing. Whether or not you agreed with Verlander’s selection as the MVP, he was considered a strong candidate for the award. Halladay couldn’t even beat out Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young, making his chances to win the NL MVP miniscule at best. A glance at the award results might lead one to conclude that Verlander was a vastly superior pitcher last season. The truth is, Halladay was just as good — if not better.

Not taking anything away from Verlander — who posted a great season — but Halladay matched him in nearly every statistical category. Halladay actually finished with a superior walk rate (1.35 to 2.04) and home run rate (.39 to .86) than Verlander. Even though Verlander posted a higher strikeout rate, his lead in the category was just 8.96 to 8.47. While Halladay narrowly finished ahead of Verlander in ERA, he performed much better in the advanced pitching metrics.

Halladay is actually able to widen the gap when looking at the advanced stats. He led all of baseball with a 2.20 FIP last season — compared to Verlander’s 2.99. He also bested Verlander in xFIP (2.71 to 3.12) and SIERA (2.79 to 2.99). Even though Halladay doesn’t own a commanding lead in any single category, he still finished the season worth 1.2 wins more than Verlander.

Before we go any further, let’s discuss the elephant in the room. Halladay may have had a better season, but he pitched in an inferior league. If Verlander was able to face a pitcher 1-2 times per game, his rate stats would likely improve quite a bit. Using this logic, Halladay’s season might not look as special when compared to Verlander.

If we can determine how the average starting pitcher performed in each league, we can get a better idea of just how dominant each starter was in their respective leagues. Thankfully, this is something we can sort using the FanGraphs leader boards. Using these leader boards, we can see that the average performance of a starting pitcher in the AL was 4.08/4.05/4.03 and 3.82/3.85/3.87 in the NL (ERA/FIP/xFIP). So, pitching in the NL was slightly easier than pitching in the AL. Does that mean we should discount Halladay’s performance?

Not necessarily.

If we look at each player’s performance in the “minus” stats (ERA-, FIP-, xFIP-), we can see how their stats matched up against their league-mates. Remember, the “minus” stats are already adjusted for league and park. An average score is 100, and lower numbers are better in this case.

While both pitchers posted and ERA- much better than their league-mates, Halladay actually performed slightly better against his contemporaries than Verlander. Halladay, expectedly, excelled against his league-mates in FIP- — posting a sensational 56. Verlander also performed well in this category with a 73. While in xFIP-, there was only a seven point difference between the two pitchers with Halladay posting a 70 in the NL and Verlander posting a 77 in the AL.

Even though the NL was the slightly inferior league, Halladay’s performance against his league-mates was slightly better when compared to Verlander’s performance against AL pitchers. Verlander may be walking away with all the off-season accolades, but it’s really tough to argue he was better than Halladay.

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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.

71 Responses to “Was Verlander Better than Halladay?”

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  1. Alex says:

    //While both pitchers posted and ERA- much better than their league-mates, Verlander actually performed slightly better against his contemporaries than Halladay. Halladay, expectedly, excelled against his league-mates in FIP- — posting a sensational 56. Verlander also performed well in this category with a 73. While in xFIP-, there was only a seven point difference between the two pitchers with Halladay posting a 70 in the NL and Verlander posting a 77 in the AL. //

    I think you meant to say Halladay performed slightly better against his contemporaries than Verlander.

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  2. cliff lee's changeup says:

    Verlander was arguably the second best AL pitcher this year, not the first, he had no shot at being the best pichet in baseball. It is really amazing to me that fangraphs has completely ignored the argument that CC Sabathia sh(c)ould have been the AL Cy Young. Why the black out? This really appears to be sabermatricians going along with the main stream media. The comparison between CC and Verlander is far more compelling, comparing people to Halladay is drab because we all know Halladay was, is and will be better.

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    • Not sure how you could argue Sabathia OVER Verlander, though I see why someone would say they are quite comparable this year. Any BABIP-based argument in favor of CC has certain flaws, including the fact that Verlander pitches in a bigger home park (so more balls should be expected to fall in) and has a worse defense playing behind him.

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    • Ian says:

      There was no black out on CC v. Verlander – it has been discussed several times here, and each time, logical (non-Yankee fans) contributors come to the conclusion that Verlander was superior.

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      • Jon says:

        I think the only argument CC has for that is the tougher division or the BABIP. CC pitches against two other playoff teams, and the Blue Jays who aren’t slouches on offense. However, I think most people who watch the games know that Verlander was a better pitcher this season. He was dominant and consistent every time out and has stats to prove that.

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    • Dwight S. says:

      From a simple standpoint Verlander struck out more, walked less and pitched more innings. From an opposing batting standpoint, hitters hit for a lower average, obp and slugging against Verlander. From an advanced metric perspective Verlander had a better SIERRA and much better tERA and rWAR. From a batted ball standpoint Verlander gave up far fewer line drives and a quite a bit more popups, so basically opponents were squaring up much less against Verlander.

      So what it boils down to is Verlander virtually did everything better than Sabathia with the exception of throwing fewer groundballs and allowing more HRs which explains the FIP and fWAR advantage for CC, the former is kinda irrelevant since Verlander has succeeded being a FB pitcher his entire career and the latter we still don’t know how much control a pitcher has over them so who’s to say that CC just didn’t get lucky in that department this year? IMO I think those 2 things aren’t nearly enough to offset everything Verlander did better than CC despite what fWAR says.

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  3. Spunky says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. More people need to remember the excellent season Halladay had, and that Verlander wasn’t even hands-down the best pitcher in baseball.

    However, one thing that I do credit Verlander with is innings pitched. He had 251, the best in baseball, while Halladay only had 233.2 (still top 10, but almost CG short of Verlander).

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    • Greg says:

      I don’t think people who visit Fangraphs are at risk of overlooking Roy Halladay and his 2011 season.

      Roy Halladay has cured the blind and lepers. He fed 5,000 men with just five loaves of barley bread and two fish. And he throws a better cutter than Jesus. Or so I’ve been told here at Fangraphs.

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    • Richard says:

      I assume you mean “almost *2* CG short of Verlander”, which in fact highlights an overlooked detail: Halladay only had 32 starts, Verlander 34 (Kershaw 33). It’s possible that Halladay was hurt, awards/attention-wise, by being in such a strong rotation, on a team that ran away with their division. The Phillies had no need to skip a Kendrick or Worley start to get a few more from Halladay or Lee, something they did do a few times even in 2010 (while he only had 33 starts in 2010, his final one came with five games remaining, plenty of room left for a 34th, had one been necessary).

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      • Spunky says:

        Yes, I did mean “almost 2,” thanks for pointing it out. Yes, I thought that was the biggest thing in Verlander’s favor (over Halladay, but over everyone else too).

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    • sheath1976 says:

      I wonder how much being pinch hit for late in games hurt Halladay in the IP derby.

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    • Fiveloko says:

      Not disagreeing outright, but NL — and LaRussa — means micromanaging late-inning situations during which the pitcher’s spot is due. Absolutely no doubt in mind that Halladay had at least 18 more innings in his arm last yr.

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      • Richard says:

        Seriously, in Halladay’s case, the “late-inning” situation rarely came up this year. Maybe twice. More often, he was lifted early because it was blowout. He left three shutouts with leads of 7, 10, 11 runs after 7 innings, absolutely cruising. Plus there was the 4-inning heat exhaustion game in Chicago. Add in 2 fewer games, and it’s not hard to see where the 18 innings could’ve gone.

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      • Greg says:

        False. Charlie Manuel stuck with Halladay and had him finish some games when virtually any other manager would have inserted the closer. Examples: April 30 against the Mets (2-1 CG win); June 26 against Oakland (3-1 CG win); July 2 against Toronto (5-3 CG win); Sept 14 against Houston (1-0 CG win). Halladay also had 3 CG in losses.

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      • Phils_Goodman says:

        Those were all tight games.

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      • novaether says:

        Charlie Manuel stuck with Halladay and had him finish those games because he’s Roy Halladay. It’s not because Charlie Manuel is a poor manager.

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      • Greg says:

        Phils_Goodman –

        Exactly. All of those games involved “save” situations, in which virtually every manager goes on autopilot and calls for the closer in the ninth. But Manuel stayed with his ace. He also stayed with his ace in a game against the D-Backs when Halladay blew a lead in the ninth inning – the first time he had ever done so – and lost.

        So Halladay actually picked up an extra handfull of innings because of Charlie Manuel’s somewhat unorthodox (at least by contemporary standards) decision making.

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  4. Matty Brown says:

    I loved seeing the ERA/FIP/xFIP average split for each league. I am very impressed and a little reassured at how consistent and accurately they compare.

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  5. Scott says:

    All this reminds me of are Pedro’s epic seasons in Montreal and Boston. He not only should have won the MVP and CY Young very year, but should have been awarded Babe Ruth’s head on a stick for dominating all those steroided up hitters.

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  6. Grand Admiral Braun says:

    The lack of respect that Halladay received in the MVP voting can unfortunately be attributed to one thing: a lack of wins. If Verlander wins 20 instead of his ‘Welchian’ 24, no way do these dinosaur voters select him over Ellsbury or Bautista. There’s still a long way to go.

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    • Greg says:

      Halladay won 19 games. And he received more MVP votes than Clayton Kershaw, the NL Cy Young Award winner. I’m not following your logic.

      I think Halladay had the misfortune of sharing space with Lee and Hamels in the same rotaiton. The BBWAA are filled with contradictions (they are human, after all) and one of those contradicitions is to punish some great players for not having the prescience to choose better teammates (e.g. Jose Bautista), while punishing other great players for choosing better teammates (e.g. Halladay and his companions Lee and Hamels). Verlander stood out to a large number of voters because until Doug Fister joined the team at the trade deadline, Verlander’s compatriots pitched like they were from the Island of Misfit Toys. And thus Verlander had to be “more valuable” to his team than any other pitcher in baseball. Never mind the contributions of the Tiger lineup and bullpen toward those 95 wins and a division title.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      I agree, Verlander was a complete package of traditional stats. He had tons of wins, low ERA, high Ks, low walks, and more IP than we have seen for quite awhile.

      The IP is not discussed but it is the most anyone has pitched in the league since, well, Roy Halladay pitched 266 in 2003.

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  7. Hurtlockertwo says:

    Halladay got more MVP votes than Kershaw, go figure.

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    • Hurtlockertwo says:

      One more thing, does anyone know if the same people vote for MVP and Cy Young?

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      • Greg says:

        Yes. The members of the Baseball Writers Association of America vote for both awards, as well as ROTY and Manager of the Year.

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      • Richard says:

        uh, no, it’s not the same members, though… different actual people vote for the different awards

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      • Judy says:

        No, the 2 writers in each AL or NL city that had an MVP vote this year might have a CYA vote next year or the year after. Someone else might know if there are some cities without enough members to completely avoid overlapping voters, but it’s definitely not the rule.

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      • www.thehotteststove.com says:

        I don’t agree with the logic, but I can definitely see how Halladay got more MVP votes than Kershaw while losing the Cy Young to him. Most of the voters weigh the team’s success along with the individual performance, so if their performances were somewhat similar but the teams finished with VERY different records, Halladay would collect most of the votes. Not only do I disagree, I hate the logic because if this is how people are voting for MVP, we need to add another major award: “Most Outstanding Offensive Player” to complement the Cy Young.

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  8. mister_rob says:

    somwhat related…
    I was going over some fangraphs stats the other day and noticied that according to FIP, Aaron Harang was a better pitcher than Hellickson this past season
    almost identical walk and homer rates. Harang actually plays in a more extreme pitchers park. He faces pitchers instead of DHs ,and in a weaker league…..and yet because he strikes out 1 more guy per nine, FIP says he was actually the better pitcher????

    If someone can give me a logical explanation for this, I would love to here it. Because findings like this make me think that FIP is not all that indicative of anything

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      There is this thing called a league… you need to adjust for it (see above article).

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    • FIP doesn’t adjust for league/park, though fWAR does. fWAR shows Hellickson to be the superior pitcher.

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      • mister_rob says:

        thank you. that makes more sense

        but forgetting about park/lg factors for a minute, is it reasonable to suggest that Harang’s 1 extra K per 9inn is worth .30 points in FIP?

        That seems like it weighs Ks a little too strongly. If you have 2 pitchers who give up the same amount of walks and homers, and one happens to strike out 6 instead of 5, is it really that big of a deal?

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      • Given that FIP is only looking at 3 factors, even a 1 K/9 shift can be expected to shift FIP quite significantly (especially when each pitcher throws 170+ innings).

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  9. Evan says:

    Something about Verlander’s on-demand 100mph heat just cripples my sober, dispassionate reasoning skills. It makes me giddy.

    “Yeah, their numbers are pretty close…I don’t know, hard to say. Wait, he what? How fast? In the 8th inning?! Fuck it, yeah, give him the awards.”

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  10. Mike says:

    I first read about Bill James in Inside Sports magazine in 1981 and in the spring of ’82 purchased the first nationally published Baseball Abstract and all of the subsequent editions and most of his other books as well. The biggest thing that I took from all of his writings was to question the things I read and hear.

    I don’t keep up with all of the latest stats as much as I’d like, but I think that sometimes the stats get held in too high a regard. I keep reading how Weaver and Halladay were really the best pitchers and how many esoteric stats are trotted out to defend this position. Here is a guy who pitched the most innings, won the most games struck out the most hitters, had the best ERA in the more difficult league, and it is still not enough.

    Halladay played for a supposed better team in an inferior league facing only 8.5 hitters per line-up, how come he didn’t win 24 games? Is it all luck?

    If Verlander wins more games than Jared Weaver nearly every year, even though most years Weaver’s team is supposedly better and he plays in an inferior division, I am supposed to believe that Weaver is the better pitcher?

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    • Robert says:

      Run support, Mike, run support.

      I know the writers would like to believe that Verlander was a one-man show last season, but the Tigers scored 787 runs, good for fourth overall in all of baseball.

      The Phillies scored 713 times (less than the Royals). The Angels scored 667 times (less than the Orioles). So, yeah, Weaver and Halladay didn’t win 24 games because their team’s offenses weren’t as good as Verlander’s.

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      • Mike says:

        Wow. I was afraid to come back and look at this because I thought I was going to get killed.

        I feel the run support argument is valid if you don’t lead the league in ERA. Focusing on run support then says that if Halladay loses 2-1 but Verlander wins 7-1, Halladay is still the better pitcher.

        What we would need is the runs scored when the pitcher as in the game. Maybe Halladay comes out ahead, maybe not. I do know there were at least a few starts where Verlander was in while the game was tight and then it was blown open after he left..

        How good were the teams offenses relative to their league, though? It requires more runs to win in the AL than the NL.

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  11. Husker says:

    So what!

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  12. Theo says:

    Roy Who?

    Opposing Hitters batted .191 vs Verlander in 904 AB’s.
    Also had a .242 OBP in 969 PA’s.

    Nobody has been that dominant since Pedro Martinez in 2000.

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  13. James says:

    Isn’t the real question whether Halladay was better than Kershaw or Braun? Comparing him to Verlander is pointless, since that wasn’t his competition for the awards–although it certainly does fit in with the, “Let’s shit on Verlander because we’re sabermetricians and everyone else is stupid,” theme, so I support it in that regard.

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  14. waynetolleson says:

    The reality is that these awards are a combination of individual performance, team performance, and the public’s perception of just how “valuable” a certain player is to a certain team.

    Halladay also suffers from setting the bar so incredibly high. Halladay was pretty much the best starting pitcher in baseball – again. Ho hum. For most pitchers, 233 IP and 8 CG’s would be a career season. That really is your average Roy Halladay season.

    Halladay was also hurt in the awards by having Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt behind him in the rotation. The Phillies were already a World Champion and a back-to-back NL Champion before they got Halladay, or Cliff Lee. If Halladay went down with an injury, the Phillies would still have been a pretty tough team. Without Justin Verlander, the Tigers might not crack .500.

    It’s the classic problem: are we looking at “the best” player, or are we judging which player is “most valuable” to his team.

    It’s an imperfect award.

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  15. Rob says:

    I hate this argument. It’s not about luck, or what should have happened, it’s about what did happen.

    Verlander pitch more innings, struck out batters at a better clip, allowed baserunners at a lower clip and did so in the tougher league. That somehow he was over a full win short of Halladay is nothing short of an indictment of fWAR’s pitching calculations. Using a predictive measure to measure actual performance isn’t very helpful.

    I understand that if we ran 2011 thousands of times, Halladay’s performance would likely be better than Verlander’s performance based on the underlying numbers, but we don’t get that luxury. Instead, we ran 2011 1 time and 1 pitcher, whether by divine intervention, previously unseen control over things thought uncontrollable, or some other unknown factor outperformed another quite excellent pitcher.

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    • Nick says:

      The sabermetrics that are cited in this article, including FIP, are just quantifying what happened in a different formula, rather than acting as a “predictive measure”. It’s not saying he “should’ve” had a lower ERA; it’s making more perfect ERA by taking out the luck factor and crediting the pitcher for what he controls. So, in fact, it’s doing a better job, in my opinion, of actually explaining what “did happen”.

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  16. HYOOKA says:

    this site seriously needs some better quality control on articles. parts of this article are barely readable, even forgiving the lack of substance. you could have just linked us to their player pages and left it at that.

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  17. Melkman says:

    Don’t need sabermetrics to calculate games played. Cabrera 161, Verlander 34. He’s not even MVP of his own team. SP winning this award is like a DH winning a gold glove…. oh wait… good job MLB.

    I know it’s hard but let’s put WAR aside for a moment and ccontemplate how a player who has zero affect on 4 out of 5 games can be the most valuable to his team? It’s ridiculous.

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    • waynetolleson says:

      “I know it’s hard but let’s put WAR aside for a moment and ccontemplate how a player who has zero affect on 4 out of 5 games can be the most valuable to his team?”

      That’s not accurate, IMO. If Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, or Justin Verlander toss eight shutout innings, and their teams score five or six runs, that means that these ace starting pitchers have, in effect, given their entire bullpen a night off.

      If A.J. Burnett or Mike Pelfrey get lit-up, and the bullpen is in the game by the fourth inning, that affects not only today’s game, but the following several games, as well.

      Let’s also remember that a great starting pitcher is probably facing at least thirty batters per game. Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander are at the center of the action for thirty different game situations each start. Miguel Cabrera is at the center of the action in four or five different game situations per night. Miguel Cabrera has to play five or six games to impact as many PA’s as a quality starting pitcher.

      Miguel Cabrera had 688 PA’s in 2011. Roy Halladay faced 933 batters in 2011. Justin Verlander faced 969 batters in 2011.

      Top notch starting pitchers have a huge impact on their teams’ fortunes. I, personally, think the Tigers would be a little more screwed if they didn’t have Verlander as opposed to their not having Cabrera.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Do you count money by the number of bills you have or by the value of of those bills?

      Because using your “games played” logic, I’ll trade you these 15 one dollar bills for the those 3 fifties you have there. I’m giving you 5 times as much.

      My preference is that pitchers don;t win the MVP award. At least Verlander was a better candidate than the previous non-Clemens pitchers to win the MVP. But, my preference is not due to the games playerd reasoning.

      Your complaint is the exact reason why we have metrics like WAR. To attempt to put a value on each player’s contributions and be able to compare.

      In this scenario of SP vs. Every day player, we have a much bigger influence spread out over fewer games versus much less individual game influence spread out over more games. Which has more value? That’s what WAR is attempting to measure.

      [quote]I know it’s hard but let’s put WAR aside for a moment and ccontemplate how a player who has zero affect on 4 out of 5 games can be the most valuable to his team? It’s ridiculous.[/quote]

      It is hard to put WAR aside when WAR is attempting to measure what you are questioning.

      Next you’ll be asking how it’s possible for a guy that walks a lot and plays really good defense could possibly be as valuable as a big home run hitter … and calling it ridiculous before the situation is even examined.

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  18. Colin says:

    ROY HALLADAY!!!!!! (splooge…..followed by hasty cleanup)

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  19. Paul says:

    FFS Fangraphs

    another backhanded Verlander slap

    another Halladay is God article

    Now Halladay is amazing, at or very near to the HoF already…but can we please address his lucky HR rate this year? Pretty please?

    Halladay is in the frame for top MLB SP this year (along with Verlander, CC, Kershaw and Lee) – but the fWAR gap he has to the rest is basically due to the credit he got for being slightly lucky with his HR rate; whilst Verlander and Kershaw get stiffed by no account being taken for their BABIP rate (what level of control they have on it is debatable, and of course plenty of it is luck as well) – it’s just unfair to use a stat to justify your point that rewards one skill on the ‘luck/control’ range for the pitcher (HR/9, HR/FB etc), whilst ignoring another skill on the ‘luck/control’ range for the pitcher (BABIP effect).

    Ok we can’t measure the pitcher effect on BABIP, but at least mention it as an unknown but relevant factor in the Hallday is better than Kershaw/Verlander articles

    Dave had a nice article (one of the best on here for a while) recently acknowledging the BABIP issue in support/undetstanding for Verlander as a valid MVP pick

    Its almost at the point here where the outcome/conclusion is pre-ordained, and the article is written to presuade the reader of the point backed up by whatever stats help – this should only happen in the typ of articles such as the recent series ..The case for Ryan Braun/Kemp etc…

    Seems like Fangraphs has been heavily invested in the Halladay is no.1 SP in 2011 narrative (even making an MVP case for him late season) and needs to maintain support for the position.

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  20. Brian Whelly says:

    What makes this all even harder to stomach was that Roy wasn’t the NL MVP. That honor should have gone to Matt Kemp and his 8.7 WAR.

    I do understand the article though, because I’ve said the same thing all week. If a pitcher was going to win the MVP, it should have been Roy. Verlander was not a better candidate than Bautista or Ellsbury (1-2 WAR difference), but Roy is at least close to Kemp.

    Verlander was the best pitcher in the AL until you start considering who he faced (heck, his no hitter was against Toronto without Bautista IIRC). Strength of opponent (can’t ignore that CC has to face the AL East more) evens thing out. On the flip side, Jose Bautista and Jacoby Ellsbury put up superb seasons while facing the AL East on a regular basis (including Sabathia).

    Still, this article does have some issues. The biggest one to me is that some of the advanced measures don’t adjust against bias, but rather are predictive. That is useless when you have 251 innings worth of data.

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    • JG says:

      Citing the division is a pretty pitiful argument. CC pitched against the Red Sox only three more times than Verlander this season (and Verlander, shockingly enough, faced the Yankees’ insane lineup two games more than CC did). This is just a small part of the AL East, but the middle and bottom of the division are pretty similar to the middle and bottom of the Central in terms of team wRC+. Rays and Royals are almost identical. Blue Jays and Indians are extremely close. The only outlier is the Twins, and Verlander faced them exactly once more than CC.

      So yeah, obviously the AL East is a better division and it’s a worthy argument when comparing two teams with the same record in different divisions, but when comparing individual starting pitchers in different divisions of the same league it’s pretty serious SSS.

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    • JG says:

      Also, the whole “Bautista wasn’t in the lineup” thing…

      Pretty silly to even bring it up. Is it imply that Bautista would have gotten a hit where Rajai Davis (or whoever was replacing him that night) didn’t? The BA difference between Bautista and a terrible hitter like Rajai Davis is that Bautista gets a hit and Davis doesn’t in 7% of their paired at-bats.

      This comes off as desperate to knock Verlander down a peg.

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    • Bob B says:

      So you would have given the MVP to a player for the team that pulled the largest late season collapse in baseball history? Would Boston have fallen out of the race faster without him?

      Writers vote for players on winning teams. In 2010 Miguel Cabrerra lost to someone he outperformed in every category.

      Lastly, look at JV’s numbers vs Boston and compare them to CC’s. Not even close. CC’s numbers are horrible and JV’s are excellent. The 2nd worst set of numbers for CC last year? The Detroit Tigers.

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  21. Shawn says:

    Verlander gets to beat-up on a division where none of his division rivals had even a .500 record…he’s no doubt a very good pitcher and he deserves the Cy Young over CC, but Bautista & Ellsbury both got robbed (a strong case could be made for either).

    Being a playoff team seems to have helped him, but his team handily won the division; even without him, his 3 other MVP candidate teammates could’ve had Proctor take his spot in the rotation and still win the division. That’s not to belittle Verlander’s record because his record is a huge accomplishment (as is the no-hitter and the amount of games where he allowed 3 runs or less) but the fact that the Tigers made the playoffs should have ZERO weight in this argument.

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    • Robert D. says:

      The Tigers were not in first most of the first half. They didn’t get pass the lowly ALC until Fister and two bats at the trading deadline. So for much of the season, no Verlander probably means 5,6,8 or 10 games out in August.

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      • Robert D. says:

        And Personally, IMO, Cabrera had a better season than Ellsbury. If you’re going by stats and stats alone its not even close. So on that criteria, either Miggy or Bautista.

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    • waynetolleson says:

      “…3 other MVP candidate teammates could’ve had Proctor take his spot in the rotation and still win the division. That’s not to belittle Verlander’s record…”

      I think that does, in fact, belittle what Verlander did in 2011. 251 IP, 250 K’s, 57 BB, 2.40 ERA, 2.99 FIP.

      I really don’t know what more Verlander had to do to demonstrate his value to a baseball team.

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  22. Jon L. says:

    Uh, the writer of this article seems to have missed the point. He says (in paraphrase), “Halladay pitched in an inferior league? Let’s adjust for that by comparing him to the average performance of pitchers in his league.”

    Yeah, that adjusts for the inferior quality of the hitters in his league. Now the only problem is that you’re comparing him to the inferior pitchers in his league.

    I believe Chris went in knowing in his heart that Halladay was better, stated it as his conclusion, and then set out to prove it.

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    • Bob B says:

      I’m glad someone made that point. Halladay’s numbers improved significantly when he moved from AL to NL, as did Cliff Lee’s and CC’s. Great AL pitchers became NL gods. It is amazing that the same people that diminish Verlander for playing in the Central give him no credit for pitching in the AL.

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  23. We’d also need to look at who the 18 IP difference would be against.

    Would it be another start or 2? Against who?

    More importantly would it be an extra inning every other start againt the top of the order the 4th time through where even the elite perform worse than their average, but still better than the average reliever and close to a good closer?

    What if we remove 18 late-inning IP from JV, how do their metrics compare? Or if we remove 2 starts from JV comparable to the 2 less starts Roy had.

    Seems like there could be more advanced analysis taking place other than just comparing the minus metrics.

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  24. In regards to BABIP, the more I think about the .290 to .300 average, I think it has as much to do with the number of defenders and the shape of the diamond as anything.

    If you take a standard field and put a circle around each fielder to represent average range, there just isn’t much space for balls to fall in.

    This is why things like batted ball velocity (line drives) are so important. It’s why guys like Holliday often sustain such high BABIPs because they hit the ball so damn hard.

    I think until we have data for how hard batters hit the ball off specific pitchers we won’t know how the pitchers really affect BABIP. Right now we only conclude that pitchers excel at not allowing BIP (strikeouts).

    But, we as former batters, also know that pitchers that are hard to make contact with are also hard to square up. But we also know that it is very difficult for pitchers to hit their spots consistently and just one missed spot in an at bat can result in damage.

    It would be interesting to have location, velocity, and movement data for pitchers in the different grids of the zone in order to characterize how many difficult to hit pitches each pitcher throws in order to gauge what possible influence they might have.

    For example, if we had a theoretical “perfect pitcher” that could always throw heat on both corners, work breaking stuff down and in/out, and keep the changeup down or down away would their BABIP average .290 to .300 if they never threw a centered or middle pitch?

    It’s interesting to me because hitters have changed the way the hit due to changes in the strikezone. Hitters use a C-path swing focusing on hitting the inside seam, and this swing is tailored to hit down pitches and away. The weakness is the high pitch.

    Anyway, I’m rambling, but it would be interesting to see pitcher’s BABIP by zone and probably revealing as to what pitchers center pitches too often.

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    • Bob B says:

      “If you take a standard field and put a circle around each fielder to represent average range, there just isn’t much space for balls to fall in. ” It appears you have never visited Comerica National Park. This is presumably why Fangraphs fanatics prefer FIP and even xFIP since it removes those factors.

      However, the Halladay and especially the CC arguments against Verlander have taken this stat to idiotic levels. A pitcher’s job is to miss bats, not throw batting practice.

      A good substitute for batted ball velocity is LD% since that measures the % of line drives a pitcher gives up. Line drives and HRs are what hitters want and pitchers don’t and unless a fielder is in exactly the right place an LD will become a hit. LDs also are not park dependent like HR except for LDs that become HR.

      If you look at the LD% for the pitchers over 220 innings, Verlander is the 2nd best in baseball at 17.7%. Halladay is 6th, almost a full % behind, at 18.5% (Kershaw is 3rd at 18.2%). CC is next to last at 23.1%. Hitters are squaring up with JV much less than other pitchers, especially CC.

      This is a reflection of pitch selection and strategy, which Halladay has shown for years, in addition to great ‘stuff’. JV significantly improved in this area and stepped up to a new level. He used his curve very effectively and often didn’t throw a fastball, especially the 100mph heater, until late in the game. His control was flawless for most of season (April was “shaky” and he ‘struggled’ in a few games in Sept).

      FIP is useful as a comparison to ERA to determine if the pitcher was helped or hurt by their team defense. It is useless as a standalone metric because assuming hits don’t matter is reckless.

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