Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Randy or Roger?

Randy Johnson got jobbed. He came in a distant second place to Roger Clemens in the Cy Young vote, and why? The only statistics that Roger Clemens had that were at all superior were Wins, Hits Allowed and Home Runs Allowed. The differences in Hits and HRs were so small (177-169 and 18-15) that the difference can be explained by the fact that Johnson started two more games than Clemens and pitched 31 more innings than Clemens. In other words, Johnson did more work each game and started more games than Clemens.

Wins are (once thought about) obviously one of the poorest measures of pitching ability. A pitcher, while instrumental in preventing the opposing team from scoring, is only one bat of nine for his own team's offense and no pitcher is expected to be a big contributor on offense. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Johnson's team, scored fewer runs in 2004 than any other team in either league. The Astros, while not the best, were considerably better being 13th of 30 teams and 5th in the National League. Roger Clemens received more support from his team throughout the year. In games that Clemens started, his team scored an average of 4.73 runs. In games Johnson started, his team scored an average of 3.53 runs.

When comparing stat lines that truly indicated a pitcher's ability, such as Earned Run Average (ERA), Opponent's Batting Average (BAA), Baserunners Allowed (WHIP), Strikeouts (K), Walks (BB), Complete Games (CG) and Shutouts (SHO), Johnson is obviously the better pitcher.

Statistics ERA / BAA / WHIP / K / BB / CG / SHO
Johnson 2.60 / .197 / 0.90 / 290 / 44 / 4 / 2
Clemens 2.98 / .217 / 1.16 / 218 / 79 / 0 / 0

Other circumstances taken into account may have been Clemens getting into the playoffs. But on the other hand, Johnson threw his second no-hitter, a perfect game (the oldest man to throw a perfect game). Clemens has never managed this feat. By just about any measure of pitching ability, Randy Johnson should have been the National League Cy Young winner. It's a shame that bigger flash won out over better performance.