A Dream Rotation for 2012

CC Sabathia

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Let the trades begin. The offseason wheeling and dealing always creates surprises. Teams scramble to fill gaps. Players look for the most money and a chance a to win. With Sabathia guaranteeing he will finish his career in New York, the thought arose: If a team could have a mock draft of current starters only, who would be the five that make up the super rotation? Primarily based on 2011 performances, here is my starting rotation:

1) Roy Halladay. The Phillies starter should be everyone’s number one. Aside from his stats, his presence on the mound is commanding. Philadelphia knew what they were doing when they acquired Halladay.

2) Justin Verlander. No one can argue with 24 regular season wins in 2011. Reservations about Verlander are on the leadership front, but he can pitch any day of the week.

3)  Cliff Lee. Everyone knows Lee’s ability to be lights out. He’s one of the premiere pitchers in baseball, but on this super lineup he’s number 3.

4) CC Sabathia. The Yankees ace has a habit of dominating opposing lineups. Not to mention he is a work-horse. 3.00 ERA in 2011 shows his ability to keep a team in the game. He could rank higher but his inability to reach 20 wins holds me back.

5) Clayton Kershaw. Really the bright spot for the Dodgers in 2011. With a 2.28 ERA and 21 wins, not a bad way to tie up the rotation.

One could make arguments for Verlander being number one. I could see Ian Kennedy possibly breaking into this rotation based on 2011. Who knows what 2012 will bring, but wouldn’t it be nice to have this be your starting rotation?

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5 thoughts on “A Dream Rotation for 2012

  1. Both wins and ERA have been proven again and again to not mean anything significant about a pitchers performance in a season, so it’s really odd that you’re basing your arguments so heavily in those two stats.

    • I’m not sure how ERA is not significant. A pitcher’s ERA tells us how well they limit the opposing team’s ability to score. No one wants a high ERA pitcher. I took a quick look at ESPN’s Cy Predictor for example. You will see the leading contenders in both leagues typically have ERA’s under 3. I will concede somewhat that wins aren’t as significant as a pitcher doesn’t have full control over what happens in a game. However, one argument I’ve heard to support Verlander’s case for the MVP is the number of wins he earned for Detroit. Secondly, why do we consider 300 wins to be a significant statistic?

      Thanks for the response!

      • ERA isn’t completely insignificant, it does often correlate to good pitching, but it also often doesn’t. ERA relies too much on the defensive ability of a team (aside from errors) to be considered a true measure of a pitcher’s ability. The book Between the Numbers is a pretty good read with regards to ERA and wins not meaning a lot about a pitcher. As far as Verlander goes, he’s amazing and deserves the ranking you gave him, but it has nothing to do with the number of wins he got. Good pitchers are more likely to get a lot of wins, it just gets a bit muddy between 16-17ish wins and 20+. There isn’t a huge difference there, generally. The reason 300 wins is a big deal is because we love number-based milestone achievements, even though many of them don’t mean a whole lot, i.e. 1,500 RBI, 500HR, 300 wins etc. The fact that Jose Canseco has 494 homeruns, Jamie Moyer has almost 300 wins, lends credence to the idea that the milestones aren’t really that significant, since those are clearly not elite players by any measure. Your list ends up working (though I’m not sure I’d put C.C. in it) in the end, because the best pitchers often pitch for somewhat decent teams and their performances often lend themselves to decent stats. But, there are pitchers who dominate and have pretty average or mediocre ERAs, and there are pitchers who dominate and have pretty terrible W-L records (i.e. Felix Hernandez). There are a few pitchers I’d put in this list before C.C., but he’s not a terrible choice, obviously.

      • I will still say that ERA is one of the more important stats. Yes, a pitcher relies on good defense, however a pitcher’s ability to keep the ball out of play is significant. Who wrote the book? Something I’ll definitely have to read. Without the number-based milestones, what would we have to compare historical performances to? Yes, Canseco and Moyer not HOF guys. The fact Canseco felt he needed to enhance his performance (along with a number of others unfortunately) indicates the value placed on the milestones. Babe Ruth, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken , Jr, etc. give credence to why we care so much about milestones. 2011 saw Jim Thome, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera all achieve HOF benchmarks. Not to mention Pujols’ 3 home runs in one World Series game. I would suspect most fans would prefer a pitcher witha lower ERA as opposed to let’s say a John Lackey. You are slowly convincing me with the W-L records but again I still tie that somewhat to ERA.

      • That’s what we have sabermetrics. By using things such run expectancy, swinging strike percentage, groundball rate, line drive percentage, walked and hit batters, and BABIP (batted average on balls put into play) to determine whether a pitcher is really good or just getting lucky.

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