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Wednesday, July 19, 2006



Around The Horn, July 19th, 2006. "Buying or Selling" Francisco Liriano as your AL Cy Young Award Winner?

Woody Paige steps to the mic. First, he informs Kevin Blackistone what "WHIP" actually stands for (Blackistone, believe it or not, had pronounced it letter for letter: W.H.I.P.).

"WHIP stands for Why Halladay Is Pre-eminent!"

Great. Hilarious. Here are Paige's reasons why he likes Halladay better than Liriano:

"He has more wins, more innings pitched, more shutouts, fewer walks, and he plays for a team that's not as good!"

Let's take it slowly here.

More wins.

Halladay has twelve. Liriano has eleven. Of course, Halladay has started seven more games than Liriano. One fewer win with seven fewer starts.

The better argument, of course, is that wins are a poor way to measure a pitcher's value. Keep in mind that Halladay gets 6.98 runs of support per game (good enough for 7th in all of baseball), while Liriano gets 5.82.

Oh wait -- I forgot. Halladay has a Pitcher Influence Over The Hitters Of His Own Team of +5.33. Liriano's is -.40. Maybe Halladay is better than Liriano.

Oh wait -- I forgot again. That doesn't exist.

More innings pitched.

He does. Halladay has more innings pitched than Liriano. About 33 innings. More starts, obviously. Should Liriano be penalized because the Twins didn't start him all year? Maybe a little. He's certainly more valuable as a starter than as a reliever.

Still, Liriano's innings are just way better than Halladay's. Liriano's BAA is about .052 lower than Halladay's. Pretty substantial. His WHIP is .11 better.

Use pretty much any metric you want, and Liriano comes out on top. I don't have the energy to go through all of them.

More shutouts.

Well, Woodrow makes a good point. I'm sure Halladay has like four shutouts and Liriano doesn't have any. Shutouts aren't a great stat, but sure, they show that on a given day, that guy was absolutely dominant. I'll just look up the stats to confirm --

Oh, okay. This makes more sense. Woody Paige just decided to make this shit up.

Neither Halladay nor Liriano has a shutout this year. They have the same number. Zero.

You know who does have one? Mark Hendrickson! He's not even the AL anymore. Must be better than Halladay and Liriano!

Woody Paige just lied to you. Do not trust Woody Paige.

Fewer walks.

True. Halladay has fewer walks than Liriano. Nine fewer.

He also has fewer strikeouts. Forty fewer.

And he plays for a team that's not as good!

I'm not 100% sure what Woody means. First of all, the Twins and Blue Jays have basically the same record. They're separated by like 1/2 a game.

On top of that, I don't know if he meant that Halladay was on a better team, or a worse team. He was using pronouns instead of proper names, and the way he was talking and stumbling, it was basically too close to call.

Thanks to that ambiguity, we have a nice example of two pieces of conventional baseball wisdom that contradict each other.

"Plus, Halladay's on the better team. His team is in the playoff race, and his success is more important than Liriano's because it's kept the Blue Jays close. Halladay for Cy Young!"


"Plus, Halladay's done all this on a team that's not even that great! He's been the best thing about the Blue Jays this year, and he has a tougher time winning because his team is worse than Liriano's. Halladay for Cy Young!"

So, I don't know which way Woody was going here. Let's break it down like this:

Woody, if you think the Twins are better -- and I think that's what you were saying:

First, look at the standings. Look at the teams' run differentials and their expected W-L records. (As of today, they're identical.) Second, even though you think the Twins are better, look again at Halladay's run support vs. Liriano's. Third, look at all the numbers, not just the ones you chose. And the one you made up. Also consider that one of the main reasons that the Twins are better is in fact because they have Francisco Liriano.

Now, if you think the Blue Jays are better:

First, look at the standings. Second, remember that Cy Young voting is supposed to be independent of the team a pitcher plays for. Third, you are right in that Halladay's team is better, on average, when Halladay pitches than the Twins when Liriano pitches. They score more runs. And this should be held against Roy Halladay.

Now, for the opposite of your enjoyment, Woody Paige's Top 10 lists.

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posted by dak  # 5:23 PM
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