FIRE JOE MORGAN: And When the Game Is Over, His ERA is Zero!

FIRE JOE MORGAN

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Monday, August 27, 2007

 

And When the Game Is Over, His ERA is Zero!

Reader Dave checks in with this lovely bit of investigative mathematics from Yankee broadcaster and Comparer-of-Trivial-things-to-War-Crimes Michael Kay:
I was watching the YES broadcast of the Yanks / Tigers game on Saturday, with Wang pitching. I've heard that Wang is much better from the windup than the stretch, and this seems true based on what I've seen. However, discussing this, Kay and Al Leiter had this exchange (paraphasing):

Kay: "...And when Wang pitches from the windup, his ERA is .53! That's like a high school ERA!" (I don't really understand what this means, but whatever). "His ERA from the stretch, though, is almost 16.00! That difference is 'UGE! So Wang really has trouble pitching from the stretch."

Leiter: (not sure if he was just dodging Kay as much as he could or not) "Yeah, Greg Maddux told me once that you should always warm up from the stretch, since that's how you'll be throwing your most important pitches..."

Then Kay basically repeats how amazing the large difference between Wang's stretch and windup ERAs is.
When nobody is on base, his ERA is small. And when runners are on base, his ERA is high. Wow.

You heard it there first, people. The number of solo homers Chien Ming Wang gives up is smaller than the number of runs scored on him by all other methods combined.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 9:38 AM
Comments:
Stefano chips in:

Wanted to chime in to report that not only is the comment about Wang's ERA pitching from the stretch vs. windup completely idiotic, it's also wrong. According to CBS's stats page for Wang:

(http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/players/player/splits/2007/382868),

his ERA with runners on base is 8.32, so not anywhere close to 16.00. In fact, Wang might actually be a better pitcher from the stretch than from the windup: with runners on base, Wang has a 1.22 WHIP and has given up only 2 HR in 70 1/3 IP, while with the bases empty, he has a 1.36 WHIP with 5 HR allowed in 89 IP.

I also was curious about whether that statistical disparity (ERA with runners on base vs. not) was typical, and it turns out that it isn't. Johan Santana, for example, has a 5.35 ERA with runners on base vs. 1.57 w/ bases empty. Why the difference between Santana and Wang? Is Santana a better "stretch" pitcher and a worse "windup" pitcher? Of course not. The simple answer is that Wang doesn't give up the long ball -- only 7 (I believe he has the best HRA/IP ratio among AL starters). Santana does (27, most in the AL).

 
Also, a few people have written in to suggest that perhaps it was Leiter, and not Kay, who made the original comment about High School ERA and so forth. Either way, someone in that booth that night was a dummy.
 
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