Brad Thompson as a Starter

Looking at the conversation about who’s most deserving to be in the rotation between Reyes and Thompson and people citing Thompson’s overall statistics made me wonder if you took out the starts only, would he look like the better option?


Having said this, I don’t know why we can’t have both of them in there, and boot one of the other people (probably Wellemeyer in my mind, deserving of that scorn or not).


Regardless though, in looking at Brad Thompson’s overall stats and his stats as only a starter, it’s very interesting reading.



2007 Overall

2007 Starting















To start, it’s easy to see Brad Thompson’s success comes from his ability to get ground balls.  When he gets more ground balls, his ERA stays low.  More on this later.  It’s also easy to notice that when Thompson took the starts, he looked even less to strike batters out, striking out just 3.3 batters per 9 innings.


I also split out Thompson’s quality starts vs. his other starts.  In 17 starts in 2007, he had 8 quality starts.  It’s not shocking to think that in quality starts his ERA is very good, while in other starts, it’s pretty bad, but here are the exact numbers:










Quality Starts




In Other Starts




In Starts with a GB/FB >2





The interesting things here are that in quality starts, he has a good ERA and a ground ball ratio of over 2. This led me to look at his ERA ONLY in games where he posted that 2/1 ratio, where he is obviously dominant, posting a 2.25 ERA in 6 starts (17 total starts). This is also true of Thompson when he pitched in relief in 2005 and 2006, posting GB/FB ratios of better than 2 both years and posting ERAs of 2.95 and 3.34 those two years.   


Now, this isn’t the only way possible for him to have success.  If you go start-by-start, you see that in late July, he posted back to back quality starts where he didn’t hit that ratio either time, and in fact, on July 22nd, he pitched 6 IP and gave up 2 ER, while getting only 9 ground balls to 8 fly balls, a very un-Thompson-like ratio.  However, looking at this two starts, there is no reason to think that this is anything more than the exception that proves the rule, as he seemingly did nothing else better those two starts to compensate.


The other interesting thing about Thompson can be found on his “Splits” page on


If you look at his splits, in his first 30 pitches, he tends to give up lower batting averages, but still high OBP.  Later in his pitch counts, he tends to walk fewer, but the OBP stays the same, as he gives up about a .340 batting average from pitches 31-75.  To give comparison, I go to everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Anthony Reyes.  Reyes struggles slightly more than Thompson during his first 30 pitches, but then settles down considerably during pitches 31-75, where Thompson just switches from walks to hits. 

This shows us that Thompson is consistent throughout and we really are getting the real Thompson, whereas Reyes simply needs to get his focus, control, or whatever it is he lacks in his first 30 pitches.  (Of course, a secondary part of this is that he might only get PAST the first 30 pitches when he’s pitching well, but either way, it proves the same point for Reyes—that there is reason to believe he can improve considerably over last year’s numbers, whereas Thompson is likely to stay the same guy).


Reyes’s splits:


I have no hatred of Thompson or problem with him being in the rotation, as his 4.66 ERA starting for league minimum is certainly better than paying Kip Wells several million to pull an ERA of 6.27, but, Thompson’s spot in the rotation ought to be based on two things:  his ability to get ground balls (his key to success, noted long before this post) and the lack of options with more upside, since he is who he is.


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