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Wednesday July 29, 2009 3:45 pm

Phillies Settle for Second Best




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB, Trades

Cliff Lee

So the Philadephia Phillies have dropped out of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes with the acquisition of 2008 AL Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians. For those that don’t know, Halladay finished second in voting to Lee in 2008. While Lee finished with a 22-3 record with a 2.54 ERA in 2008 to Halladay’s 20-11 with a 2.78 ERA, you just need to take a closer look at the stats that a pitcher actually has control over to see that the Phillies may actually have settled for what should have been second place. Halladay out-pitched Lee in almost every category, including innings pitched (Halladay’s 246.0 to Lee’s 223.1), strikeouts (206 to 170), WHIP (1.05 to 1.11), complete games (nine to four), and shut outs (four to two).

The fact is that a win-loss record is as much a result of a pitcher’s effectiveness as it is the team behind him. A pitcher can record a win even if they pitch terribly, just as long as their team picks him up. A pitcher can also get a loss while pitching fantastically. Halladay is 1-1 in his last three starts with just seven runs of support in those games. He should easily be 3-0. It was the same story last year as three of Halladay’s nine complete games last year counted among his 11 losses on the season due to terrible run support from the offense. Give those fantastic performances back to Halladay and his record all of a sudden is 23-8. Is that worthy of the Cy Young?

There are so many “pitcher” statistics that a pitcher can’t control. Hits against a pitcher is one example. How many times have you seen a blooper go for a hit? That counts against the pitcher, despite the fact that he more than likely crossed up the hitter. How about that ERA? As soon as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, his job is over. Aside from the home run, earned runs against is more a measure of how effective the defense is behind the pitcher. The pitching stats that count should be strike outs, walks, and home runs, among a few others. Those categories are one-on-one battles between a pitcher and a hitter, which is exactly what every pitch is. Once a hitter puts a ball in play, the battle is over, regardless of where the ball lands. If the ball lands over the fence, then you can just say the hitter won that battle.

There shouldn’t be a debate about this. Halladay is better than Lee. The only thing that makes sense about the Phillies actually getting Lee is that the Blue Jays were asking too much and the Phillies weren’t willing to pay it. But since the beginning, Jays GM J.P. Riccardi said he wouldn’t make a deal unless the other GM walked away thinking he overpaid, and he stuck to that. And in case you still don’t believe that the Phillies settled for second best, know that in 2008 Halladay became just the second pitcher in history to record more than 200 strikeouts and less than 40 walks in a season. That should convince you.

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