March 29, 2007

Matsuzaka, Santana, Koufax, Pedro

MLB.com's Tom Singer thinks about the Cy Young Award, considers Daisuke Matsuzaka -- who has yet to throw even one pitch in an official major league game -- and decides: "The award is his to lose."

Well, that's a bit much, wouldn't you say?

About his predicted runner-up, Johan Santana, Singer writes: "People to whom tales of Sandy Koufax sound like legend are being treated to a reincarnation. ... Santana has gone 55-19 with an ERA nearly two runs below the league's overall number over the past three seasons."

Hyperbole? Singer's right to mention the ERA difference -- many media members simply look at the pitchers' respective ERAs, which is pretty meaningless when comparing pitchers in very different offensive periods. (They used to do that with Pedro's best years, saying he was nearing Koufax territory. With all due respect to Koufax, Pedro's best years mopped the freakin' floor with Koufax.)

Let's look at Koufax's best years and see how Santana's last five seasons match up:

Koufax:
      ERA  LgERA   Diff  ERA+  WHIP
1962 2.54 3.63 -1.09 143 1.036
1963 1.88 3.02 -1.14 161 0.875
1964 1.74 3.25 -1.51 187 0.928
1965 2.04 3.26 -1.22 160 0.855
1966 1.73 3.28 -1.55 190 0.985
Santana
       ERA LgERA   Diff  ERA+  WHIP
2002 2.99 4.42 -1.43 148 1.228
2003 3.07 4.62 -1.55 151 1.099
2004 2.61 4.73 -2.12 182 0.921
2005 2.87 4.40 -1.53 153 0.971
2006 2.77 4.47 -1.70 161 0.997
Ranking of ERA+
Koufax  1966 190
Koufax 1964 187
Santana 2004 182
Santana 2006 161
Koufax 1963 161
Koufax 1965 160
Santana 2005 153
Santana 2003 151
Santana 2002 148
Koufax 1962 143
That's much closer than I would have suspected. It looks like Koufax gets the edge, but Santana has had to deal with the DH, and stronger hitters overall.

How do Pedro's ERA+ for his first six Boston years fit into that list?

Ranking of ERA+
Pedro   2000 285
Pedro 1999 245
Pedro 2003 212
Pedro 2002 196
Koufax 1966 190
Pedro 2001 189
Koufax 1964 187
Santana 2004 182
Santana 2006 161
Koufax 1963 161
Pedro 1998 160
Koufax 1965 160
Santana 2005 153
Santana 2003 151
Santana 2002 148
Koufax 1962 143
That 285 is the greatest season of all-time, at least since the mound was moved back to its current distance of 60 feet, 6 inches.

3 comments:

L-girl said...

"The award is his to lose."

Well, that's a bit much, wouldn't you say?


Yes. It's ridiculous. But here's hoping he's right.

Jackie said...

Every time I read these comparisons it makes me want to cry... I don't think I really appreciated Pedro while he was here, and I don't think we're ever going to see anything like him again. :/

L-girl said...

I don't think we're ever going to see anything like him again.

You can almost guarantee that.