FanPost

Starting Pitchers - What makes a #1/#2?

I saw a study similar to this done either last offseason or one before, but I hadn't seen anything about this since.  I wanted to take a look at five major statistics for a starting pitcher to see what makes a great starter.  Since there are 30 teams, I am going to look at 60 pitchers, 30 of which should be #1 starters and 30 of which should be #2 starters.

The five categories that I am going to look at are: innings pitched, ERA, FIP, WHIP, and K:BB.

(Note: I only used players who qualified for the leader board.)

In 2008, the top 30 (#1 starters), the top 60 starters (#1 and #2 starters combined), and the 31-60 starters (#2 starters) had an average of these stats:

  • IP - 211 2/3, 202 1/3, and 193
  • ERA - 3.22, 3.59, and 3.97
  • FIP - 3.43, 3.78, and 4.14
  • WHIP - 1.170, 1.242, and 1.314
  • K:BB - 3.64, 2.97, and 2.30

In 2007, the top 30 (#1 starters), the top 60 starters (#1 and #2 starters combined), and the 31-60 starters (#2 starters) had an average of these stats:

  • IP - 215 2/3, 205 1/3, and 194 2/3
  • ERA - 3.39, 3.79, and 4.20
  • FIP - 3.58, 3.97, and 4.35
  • WHIP - 1.183, 1.268, and 1.353
  • K:BB - 3.48, 2.82, and 2.17

In 2006, the top 30 (#1 starters), the top 60 starters (#1 and #2 starters combined), and the 31-60 starters (#2 starters) had an average of these stats:

  • IP - 219 1/2, 209 1/3, and 199 1/3
  • ERA - 3.58, 3.96, and 4.35
  • FIP - 3.68, 4.02, and 4.37
  • WHIP - 1.210, 1.282, and 1.355
  • K:BB - 3.58, 2.87, and 2.17

The three year average for the 5 categories are as follows:

  • IP - 215 2/3, 205 2/3, and 195 2/3
  • ERA - 3.40, 3.78, and 4.17
  • FIP - 3.56, 3.92, and 4.29
  • WHIP - 1.188, 1.264, and 1.341
  • K:BB - 3.57, 2.89, and 2.21

In other words:

A #1 starter should throw approximately 215 2/3 IP, with a 3.40 ERA (3.56 FIP), a 1.188 WHIP and a K:BB of 3.57.

A #2 starter should throw approximately 195 2/3 IP, with a 4.17 ERA (4.29 FIP), a 1.341 WHIP and a K:BB of 2.21.

Someone who throws 205 2/3 IP, with a 3.78 ERA (3.92 FIP), a 1.264 WHIP and a K:BB of 2.89 would be a #1/#2 "tweener."

 

The problem with these averages is that they are nearly unattainable.  In those 3 seasons I looked at above, only 12 individual seasons met the above goals (one by our own Chris Carpenter in 2006).  In the last ten years, only 37 individual seasons have met those goals set by a #1 starter above (Carpenter in '05 and '06 actually).

As for the "tweener" pitchers, there have been 28 in the past 3 seasons (including '06 Carp) meeting the numbers above. In the past ten years, there have been 79 pitchers that fit the bill (including '01 Matt Morris, '05 Carp, and '06 Carp).

As for the #2 starting pitchers, there have been 69 pitchers in the last three years to meet the numbers for a #2 starter (including our own '06 Carp, '08 Lohse, and '08 Looper).  In the last ten years, 220 pitchers have fit the bill (including '00 and '01 Darryl Kile, '01 and'02 Morris, '01 and '03 Woody Williams, '05 Carp and the 3 seasons mentioned earlier in this paragraph.)

That means that over the last 10 years:

The Cardinals have had two seasons in which they had a clear #1 starter: '05 Carpenter and '06 Carpenter

The Cardinals have had one more season in which they arguably had another #1 starter: '01 Matt Morris

The Cardinals have had 7 more seasons in which they had clear #2 starters: '00 with Kile, '01 with Kile and Williams, '02 with Morris, '03 with Williams, and '08 with Lohse and Looper.

 

10 players fitting the bill in 10 years (for a clear #2 starter) does not seem like much, but when you take into account that only 220 players met all of the criteria, that means the Cardinals have had 1/22 the players, and by the averages they should have had 1/30.

Lastly, looking at all of the years in the history of the game (from 1885 on) only 152 players have met the criteria above to be a #1 starter and only 425 (including the 152 above) met the criteria to be "tweeners."

 

Thanks, if you got through all of that.  Let me know how I can make this better!

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