Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why the phillies Won't Repeat

For winning the World Series, the phillies have officially become my new lower case team. After all I was only missing a lower case team for about a month.  From the time of the Yankees not making the playoffs until the phillies World Series victory.  Anyways, about those phillies, they were the first team since after the MLB expanded the schedule to 162 games to not lose a single game after the 8th inning, that's right not one.  Just to show you how ridiculously bad the Mets bullpen was compared to the Phillies bullpen; the Mets bullpen lost 13 games after the 8th inning to the phillies 0.  If they swapped, the Mets would've had 100 wins and a World Series while the phillies would've had 78 wins and a third place finish.  This just shows you how bad the phillies actually were.  If the Mets and the phillies had the same great bullpens the Mets would've won the division by 11 games. If they both had the same crappy pens the Mets would've won the division by 5 games over the Marlins!
This is how crazy the phillies bullpen was.  87-0(including playoffs) after the eighth inning is unheard of and especially unrepeatable.  Anything short of what the phillies bullpen produced last year will have the phillies watching from the sidelines come October 2009.  

Bullpen Pitchers2008 FIP**2008 ERA2008 K/BB Rate2008 BABIPCareer K/BB RateCareer BABIP
Brad Lidge2.411.952.63.3173.19.322
J.C. Romero4.662.751.37.2391.46.296
Ryan Madson3.333.052.91.3052.45.313
Chad Durbin3.772.871.80.2921.44.302
Clay Condrey4.
Scott Eyre*2.361.886.00.2381.63.310
Rudy Seanez*4.153.531.20.2812.01.309
*=Half Season 
**=Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that takes your peripherals into account and disregards fielding, park and opposition factors

As you can see(or can't see) almost all of the phillies relievers overachieved.  The FIP and ERA categories are there to show you how much the luck factor influenced their stats.  If you subtract a pitcher's ERA from their FIP you'll find the amount of runs that are the product of luck and nothing else.  What is luck?  In this case luck is playing on a good team, having an easy schedule, having a good defense.  (Time Lincecum has a lower FIP than ERA, while Johan Santana has a lower ERA than FIP).  BABIP's there to show you how most of the pitchers got lucky this year.  How most of the reliever's balls in play were caught.  K/BB rate's there to show that some of the phillies pitchers are declining hence the lower peripherals and that others had their best season in 2008(meaning they'll decline).  Peripherals are a great way of being able to tell whether a year was a fluke or not.  Meaning if you had a boatload of saves, had an ERA under 2.00, but had a K/BB under 2.00 there's no chance you'd be able to repeat that performance next year.

So let's go over the phillies' bullpen numbers from 2008.  If Brad Lidge played for an average team that only played other average teams in an average league in a neutral park, he would've had an ERA of 2.41(his FIP).  This means that his numbers were boosted solely by other components of the game, ones that don't involve pitching.  And he wasn't really all that he was made out to be.  He's clearly declining, shown by his .66 decline in K/BB from this season compared to his career numbers.  Expect a slight, not a vast decline from this year to next, and for his 40+ save streak to come to an end.

Now onto the rest of the bullpen.  The phillies had a combined .853 FIP to ERA differential, and that there is their division title.  The phillies got lucky and therefore had robust numbers which cannot be repeated.  The phillies setup men, J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson, are maddeningly overrated because of their inflated stats.  J.C. Romero's FIP-ERA differential was 1.91.  That's the difference between Mariano Rivera and Aaron Heilman.  Ryan Madson is at his peak and will probably put up similar numbers to this year's for the next couple years.  Their other solid bullpen guys, Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey had "terrific" seasons.  They each had about a run of difference between their ERA's and their FIP's and both had lower BABIPs than their career numbers and posted slightly higher K/BB rates.  What this means is that they'll regress to their means in 2009(a.k.a screw up) because of their subpar peripherals and their high BABIPs. Scott Eyre and Rudy Seanez had basically the same thing happen to them but they were only in Philly for a small portion of the season.  Altogether the bullpen pitchers who are supposed to have the better peripherals because of small sample size(60-80 innings) had very bad numbers with the exception of 20 innings from Scott Eyre.  The relievers also had great ERA's(second in the NL) in spite of high FIP's.  The only possible explanation is luck and that is one factor that cannot be repeated or quantified.