Building for our Ballpark

I love the variety in the sport of baseball; variations from city to city, ball park to ball park.  What makes a player great in once city may make him a failure in another.  Remember Aaron Harang?

In 2010 with the Reds Aaron won 6 and lost 7.  His ground ball to fly ball ratio was 0.60.  Fast forward to 2011 and Harang has improved his GB/FB ratio to 0.71 now playing in the more spacious PetCo Park his record has improved to 13-6.  Maybe the Reds should work a deal to send Bronson Arroyo and his daunting salary given the bombardment into the outfield stands he has endured.  29 of his 44 Home Runs allowed this season have been in the cozy confines of Great America Ball Park.  So who is out there that might attract interest from the Reds front office?

I decided to look in both leagues for the pitchers who have a GB/FB ratio of 1+.  I included Johnny Cueto who fit into this group and I also included the player closest to a 1.0 ratio, our own Mike Leake.  In addition, I narrowed the group down to players not yet 30 years of age.

Meeting the criteria is a manageable group of 18 players split between the two leagues:

The real shocker in this group is Charlie Morton.  You might remember the disastrous season he had last year going 2-12 with a ghastly 7.57 ERA.  Things have been better this year but realistically they could not have been much worse.  This year he has a mediocre 9-10 record with a much improved 3.81 ERA.

Another stat to keep in mind is the amount of Run Support each of these pitchers receive.  Mike Leake gets 5.1 runs per start (8th in the NL) and Johnny Cueto is close behind with 5.0 runs per start (9th in the NL).  Incidentally Homer Bailey leads the National League by a half a run with 6.2 runs per start!

Contrast that with these numbers.  John Lannan has received 3.5 runs per start, Tim Stauffer has had 3.4 runs scored when he has been on the mound and Charlie Morton has languished with just 3.3 runs per start.  How many more wins would Morton have with a capable lineup behind him?  Finally in the National League we have the support provided to Paul Maholm if that is what you would call it.  Maholm, who is an engaging individual that I enjoy following on Twitter @Maholm28, has received just 2.9 runs of support from the anemic Pirates offense.

The time of service varies widely among this group which explains similar stats producing a wide salary range.  I hate breaking down sports into dollars and cents but in this case the only way we understand who is available is to look at their contracts.

Maholm’s $9.75 m option for 2012 looks like it will not be utilized according to a variety of sources around Pittsburgh.  Here is one of them.

Let’s move to the American League:

These guys, playing in the AL have the benefit of getting a little more run support but the trade off is not facing a pitcher every nine batters.  As it happens all eight players on this list got a reasonable amount of run support.  Fausto Carmona received the least with 3.8 runs per game but in fact Ivan Nova has been gifted 6.2 runs per start and Rick Porcello has had 6.0 per start, finishing 3rd and 4th in the league in this fun little statistic.  I must admit, I had never heard of Ivan Nova before researching this piece and while I am certain the Yankees would never part with anyone under 30 who is an amazing talent but this guy is a prize.  His 15-4 record alone attests to the excellence he has exemplified this year.  The thing is, Ivan Nova has a 3.81 ERA just like 9-10 Charlie Morton.  Environment is everything when it comes to winning baseball games.

Best in the AL for run support is one of my favorite active players, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who just recorded his 200th win.  Tim has received an eye popping 6.9 runs per start although a lot came in his last game.

The contracts for the American league players on this list are reflective of a bit more time in the league and are more mature than most of their NL counterparts.

The added run support they have received correlates to wins and is an indicator that arbitration for any of these players will probably be a bit costlier than a few of those on the NL list.

Each of these players, with the slight exception of Mike Leake, induce batters to hit more ground balls than fly balls.  After a season of watching Bronson Arroyo declare war against food vendors in the outfield of GABP this is not a bad thing.

Do it for the little guy!  Save a Great American Food Vendor!  Bring another one of these pitchers to Cincinnati…

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