As The Rotation Turns

Morning, everyone. My name is Solanus and I will be your substitute blogger for today. (As Mr. Borowsky is enjoying a well-earned break this week, I will be one of a few humble posters trying not to diminsh the good name Larry has built up so far.) My original plan was to show you kids a bootleg copy of Shrek 3 and call it a day, but apparently that goes against some sort of school policy. Rules suck!

Instead, I'm going to talk about our starting rotation and how Win Probability Added (WPA) sees them. If you've never been out to Fangraphs or, even better for Cards fans, erik's affiliated blog Gas House Graphs, take a look and learn a different way to view a baseball game. Where every out and hit are not measured the same. Where blowout homers and 3-run saves get the (lack of) credit they deserve. Where you can truly understand how much Pujols got jobbed by Ryan Howard last year. (Actually, David Ortiz got it much worse.)

Anyway, looking at the starts for each member of the rotation and the WPA value for each appearance, you can start to see a correlation between a pitcher's performance and how much blame/credit they should receive for a loss/win. Take Adam Wainwright, for instance:

Date Result Performance WPA
Apr 6 W, 4-2 @ HOU 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R +.350
Apr 11 ND, 3-2 @ PIT 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R +.029
Apr 17 L, 1-6 v PIT 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R -.238
Apr 22 ND, 12-9 @ CHN 5.1 IP, 12 H, 7 R -.522
Apr 28 L, 1-8 v CHN 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R -.164
May 4 W, 3-2 v HOU 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R +.106
May 9 W, 9-2 v COL 6.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R +.123
May 15 L, 7-9 @ LAN 2.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R -.589
May 22 W, 9-4 v PIT 5.1 IP, 9 H, 2 R +.101
May 27 L, 2-7 v WAS 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R +.111
Jun 1 ND, 8-1 @ HOU 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R +.291
Jun 7 L, 1-5 v CIN 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R -.132
Jun 13 W, 7-3 @ KCR 8.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R +.155
Jun 18 L, 3-5 v KCR 7.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R -.183
Jun 23 W, 8-3 v PHI 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R +.164
Jun 30 L, 1-5 @ CIN 5.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R -.194

As you can see, there are games in which Wagonmaker is primarily responsible for the win (the two starts @ HOU) and others where it seems he did everything to make sure we lost (@ CHN, @ LAN). He also has a few where he did just enough to push us toward victory (pretty much anything with 2 runs allowed).
If you reassign wins, losses and no decisions based on how well each hurler pitched [+.100 or better = win, -.100 or worse = loss, in between = ND), here is how our starting pitchers look to date:

Pitcher Wins Losses ND's
Wainwright 8 7 1
Wells 3 8 4
Looper 8 5 2
Reyes 1 8 3
Thompson 3 3 3
Wellemeyer 1 3 2
Keisler 0 2 1
Maroth 1 1 0
Carpenter 0 1 0

Wainwright picks up an additional two wins, Looper improves on his 6-6 record, and Wellemeyer displays a mark that actually befits how well he has pitched and not how well his teammates have saved his ass. (Looking at it this way, there isn't much difference between Welly, Reyes, and Wells.)

A by-product of looking at the rotation's performances is that I was able to break out the contributions from each component of the team. In the month of June, our starting pitchers posted a WPA of -1.908, which means they pitched badly enough that, by themselves, they would have pushed our record 4 games below .500, with the only positives being Maroth & Wainwright. The bullpen amassed a WPA of +.617, despite an absolute turd of a month from Flores (-.859). The starting lineup combined for +1.264 and the reserves (pinch hitters and such) won an extra game by themselves (+.573). An aside: the pitching staff, taking their turn at the plate, actually outperformed Adam Kennedy for the month (-.549 v -.702). Other notable players: Pujols +2.022, Encarnacion +.667, Cate +.496, Franklin +.668, Izzy +.475.

BTW, as I was trying to get these damn tables to format somewhat intelligently Monday night, someone (I think it was nycbirdo) commented saying that you didn't need WPA to tell you that AW's first start was good and his Dodger Stadium gig was awful. (I had to re-format and just dumped the previous diary.) Well, yeah, that's pretty obvious, but it is looking at his 4/11 start against the Pirates (where he surrendered the tying run in the seventh and left a mess for Springer to clean up) where WPA stands out. His mistakes that inning killed all the work he and the offense had done up to that point, and pretty much all of the credit is given to the bullpen and the pinch-hitting exploits of Chris Duncan. Or why his spoiled no-hitter against KC doesn't get the love from Fangraphs. Read up at the excellent Gas House Graphs to get a better understanding of how the concepts work when applied to Cardinals games.

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