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Friday, June 30, 2006

WaPo: Boswell - NL May Be Out of Its League (RR)

Thomas Boswell chimes in on that whole AL/NL thing…

The reason for this [interleague] disparity is staring us in the face, so big we seldom notice it, the elephant in the room. Within the last few years, the AL has unveiled a whole generation of young pitchers, most of them still under 25 and many of them physically imposing. Inspect every starter and important reliever in the two leagues. The conclusion is inescapable. The huge preponderance of gifted 25-and-under pitchers call the American League home.
...
The American League, despite having the DH, almost has as low an ERA as the NL—4.56 to 4.51. That never happens.
...
But the senior circuit’s problems may be more systemic. “Veteran pitchers like to pitch in the National League where they don’t have to face the designated hitter, so they migrate over there,” said Baltimore Manager Sam Perlozzo.

“Where did Roger Clemens go when he left the Yankees?” Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said. “To the National League and, his first year, his ERA was 1.87. Old pitchers aren’t dumb.”

NTNgod Posted: June 30, 2006 at 03:28 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: general

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   1. mgl Posted: June 30, 2006 at 03:37 AM (#2082050)
As is often the case lately (and I don't like Boswell in general as a baseball writer), he is completely wrong. As I will show in an article I have coming out at THT soon, the disparity in the leagues is mostly due to offense and not pitching.

Of course, I have not RTFA, so I am only basing this on the lead-in.
   2. Boots Day Posted: June 30, 2006 at 03:43 AM (#2082055)
If old pitchers who are given the choice choose to pitch in the National League, wouldn't that make the NL stronger?

The under-25 thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If the AL has more good young pitchers, that argues for the fact that it will become the stronger league in the future. For right now, though, it doesn't matter that Francisco Liriano is 22 (or however old he is) while Tom Glavine is 40. It only matters if Liriano is better than Glavine right now.
   3. 1k5v3L Posted: June 30, 2006 at 03:48 AM (#2082057)
I read the article. It made my head hurt. Or maybe it was the fact I worked 16 hours straight.

That was arguably one of the worst failures to distinguish between correlation and causation that you will see in print.
   4. 1k5v3L Posted: June 30, 2006 at 03:51 AM (#2082058)
"I like the American League style of ball better. It's survival of the fittest. You never get a breather in any lineup," said Orioles reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who throws 96


An interesting choice of a player to use to drive a point across, consider Hawkins is ancient, sucks, and only throws 96 mph when he's plunking the batter over at 1B in the head.
   5. KJOK Posted: June 30, 2006 at 04:27 AM (#2082072)
...the disparity in the leagues is mostly due to offense and not pitching.

Yes, but the question is WHY is the AL offense better? I'm guessing it has a lot to do with revenues being higher in the AL perhaps?
   6. We don't have dahlians at the Palace of Wisdom Posted: June 30, 2006 at 04:55 AM (#2082086)
I'm guessing it has a lot to do with revenues being higher in the AL perhaps?

This is a joke right? I don't want to have to rehash this argument again.
   7. bibigon Posted: June 30, 2006 at 04:58 AM (#2082088)
As I will show in an article I have coming out at THT soon, the disparity in the leagues is mostly due to offense and not pitching.


Well, that would still explain the Clemens thing.
   8. semajllibfonaf Posted: June 30, 2006 at 05:43 AM (#2082102)
Boswell was a fine baseball writer - one of the few sportswriters whose books I actually was willing to purchase. A long time ago.

The article smells of Ol' Fart from the first paragraph, and nothing about the prose suggested that it would redeem itself in other ways. A pity that such people can never retire.
   9. Repoz Posted: June 30, 2006 at 05:54 AM (#2082105)
and Seattle southpaw Felix Hernandez

WOW!!!...Who's scouting for Boswell...Michael Kay?
   10. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 30, 2006 at 05:55 AM (#2082108)
The American League, despite having the DH, almost has as low an ERA as the NL—4.56 to 4.51. That never happens.

Uh, doesn't the converse make as much sense?

"The National League, despite not having the DH, almost scores as many earned runs as the AL - 4.51 to 4.56. That never happens."

Anyway, the only reason the ERA is close is because the AL gives up more unearned runs. The runs scored for the leagues are 5.04 for the AL and 4.71 for the NL. Which by looking at some random years since '73 seems like a pretty normal difference.
   11. stubbyc Posted: June 30, 2006 at 06:29 AM (#2082123)
“Where did Roger Clemens go when he left the Yankees?” Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said. “To the National League and, his first year, his ERA was 1.87. Old pitchers aren’t dumb."

2.98
   12. stubbyc Posted: June 30, 2006 at 06:33 AM (#2082124)
“Where did Roger Clemens go when he left the Yankees?” Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said. “To the National League and, his first year, his ERA was 1.87. Old pitchers aren’t dumb."

2.98


That should also include that his ERA in his first 2 years in the NL is 2.43 and that the ERA+ he has put up the last 2 years were both better than any previous total since '98.
   13. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 30, 2006 at 12:54 PM (#2082200)
"Where did Roger Clemens go when he left the Yankees?" Hall of Famer Jim Palmer said. "To the National League and, his first year, his ERA was 1.87. Old pitchers aren’t dumb."

Roger was also the first one in the Astros clubhouse to have a brain age of 20.
   14. AROM Posted: June 30, 2006 at 12:59 PM (#2082205)
How about Johnson and Schilling? Maybe some old pitchers are dumb.

Kenny Rogers and Jamie Moyer have resisted the urge to do the smart thing as well.
   15. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:10 PM (#2082214)
This is what, the second or third article today addressing the disparity of the leagues? Funny that they are coming in droves the day after the NL had one of their better, if not best IL performance, 4-4 yesterday.
   16. Sam M. Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:16 PM (#2082217)
I'm sorry, but in this early rush to slam Boswell, did anyone stop to consider the point he's making? He named a slew of young, outstanding, power arms in the AL. All of them are -- as he argues -- impressive, even if one of them (King Felix) has struggled thus far this season. Believe me, every team in the National League would pay a king's ransom (get it?) for Felix Hernandez.

Meanwhile, I've yet to see anyone here jump in with the slate of young NL pitchers who show Boswell is out to lunch. You know why? He's right! Maybe he's wrong about whether this is the biggest factor explaining the advantage the AL has right now, but it sure is a noticeable difference, and it sure is helping the Red Sox (Papelbon and now Lester), and the Tigers and A's to their success. So it's surely a piece of the puzzle. As he usually does, Boswell fixates on his answer and oversells it as "the" answer, but he's identified "an" answer, IMHO.

The Mets' staff is almost comical. Boswell points out to the geezers, but what's really funny is that even the young guys -- Heilman, Bannister, Soler -- are change-up pitchers. The only power arm we've got is Pelfrey, and so desperate are we for one in the rotation he may find his way to Shea in his first year in the system. It's a league-wide thing, too. Boswell's right.
   17. Joey B. is counting the days to Trea Turner Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:21 PM (#2082221)
I liked the piece by Boswell, but I think I might dispute his description of Huston Street as a "lights-out closer".

He was last year, but he isn't at all this year.
   18. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:23 PM (#2082224)
Don't worry, Sam, I'm sure that by the end of the day someone here on BTF will have proven that the NL is really the superior league, at least in their fantasy versions.
   19. 1k5v3L Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:30 PM (#2082225)
Sam, there ARE a decent number of power arms under the age of 25 in the NL as well. Simply, the teams they on mostly suck right now, therefore Boswell ignores them. If the Tigers were playing badly, Boswell would completely overlook the fact that Bonderman and Verlander throw hard. It's that simple. Just for kicks...

=2006&league;_filter[]=2&Submit=Submit"]NL Pitchers Sorted by Strikeouts

Just glancing at the list, I see a decent number of hard throwers under the age of 25 there
   20. 1k5v3L Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:32 PM (#2082227)
Well, that link sucked

=2&Submit=Submit"]NL Only K Leaders
   21. FJ Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:33 PM (#2082229)
Meanwhile, I've yet to see anyone here jump in with the slate of young NL pitchers who show Boswell is out to lunch.


Pitchers with < 2 years of experience

Matt Cain
Anthony Reyes
Cole Hamels
Josh Johnson
Ricky Nolasco
Edgar Gonzalez
Mike O'Connor (ok, his fastball ain't that good, so he doesn't really fit)
Elizardo Ramirez (though, I believe he's similar to O'Connor)
Anibal Sanchez?

vs.

Felix Hernandez
Justin Verlander
Francisco Liriano
Jon Lester
Ervin Santana
Chien-Mien Wang (though he doesn't fit the mold)
James Shields (does he fit the mold?)
Joe Blanton

Ummmm, I'm probably missing quite a few guys, but it doesn't seem that overbalancing.

F
   22. 1k5v3L Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:33 PM (#2082230)
Ah, #### it
   23. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:39 PM (#2082238)
It's a bit of power arms having SUCCESS that makes the circumstance more glaring. Mark Prior is still a relatively young guy but can't stay on the mound long enough these days to show anything. Same with Ben Sheets. (Sigh). And the Brewers have multiple guys in the bullpen who throw hard but don't accomplish a d*mn thing. Yes Jose Capellan and Jorge de La Rosa, I am speaking of you. Though Derrick Turnbow cranks it up to 97 mph (legitimately) and does get people out.

Early in the year Oliver Perez was throwing good fastballs and watching them disappear over fences. Then something happened and he went from 94 to 87 and is now in Indy trying to correct things.

Carlos Zambrano throws heat but because the Cubs don't score any darn runs his record looks pedestrian. Carlos is only 25. Jake Peavy is 25 and throws bullets. But he has struggled and pitches in San Diego so nobody really knows about him still.

Does the NL have anything like a Lirano or Hernandez? Nah. And the AL does have a greaer abundance of such talent.

But maybe in 2008 when Yovani Gallardo and Mark Rogers show up in Brewtown folks might be singing a different tune. Hey, a guy can dream can't he?
   24. Lujack Posted: June 30, 2006 at 01:59 PM (#2082253)
I'd add Scott Olsen for the NL.
   25. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: June 30, 2006 at 02:01 PM (#2082254)
Don't worry, Sam, I'm sure that by the end of the day someone here on BTF will have proven that the NL is really the superior league, at least in their fantasy versions.
Y'all need to get your story straight on what malicious new thoughtcrimes are being committed on this site.

In the other thread, TwoAlous was bemoaning the absence of Backlasher, because "groupthink" had set in at BTF to the effect that everyone uncritically believed in a major disparity between the leagues.
   26. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: June 30, 2006 at 02:02 PM (#2082255)
But maybe in 2008 when Yovani Gallardo and Mark Rogers show up in Brewtown folks might be singing a different tune. Hey, a guy can dream can't he?

The HOF would definitely be embiggened if a guy named Yovani Gallardo were in it.
   27. GuyM Posted: June 30, 2006 at 03:42 PM (#2082334)
To the extent there is a disparity (and I suspect it's much smaller than 2006 interleague record seems to indicate), I think Boswell has a plausible theory. Of course, MGL's article may convince me otherwise when it comes out. But since the turnover rate among pitchers is high, and since starting pitchers can have such a huge impact (they can pitch 16-17% of their team's IP; hitters don't break 11%), a sudden shift in the quality of starting pitchers is one of the more plausible ways a disparity could appear rapidly. And to the degree there is a disparity, it's clearly appeared in last 2 seasons.

Also, according to BPro, RA/G is 4.91 for NL pitchers and 4.93 for AL pitchers. That's completely consistent with Boswell's theory, but very hard to square with MGL's hypothesis that it's "mostly due to offense" (if AL hitters are better, pitchers equal, and you throw in the DH, AL offenses should score a lot more runs.)
   28. mgl Posted: July 01, 2006 at 05:24 PM (#2083482)
if AL hitters are better, pitchers equal, and you throw in the DH, AL offenses should score a lot more runs.

It completely depends on the parks in the NL relative to those in the AL. Now, if there is a change in run scoring from one year to another, that is a different story. It actually may be that there HAS been an influx of pitching talent into the AL this year, in addition to a large offensive advantage that has existed since 2005. I am not quite done with my research.
   29. GuyM Posted: July 01, 2006 at 06:49 PM (#2083715)
Agreed that you need to account for ballparks. But R/G has been pretty consistently about 0.3 higher in AL for some time, then in 2005 the gap was cut in half and now there is parity (4.91 in each lg thru yesterday). So it looks like AL pitching or NL hitting has improved, and the latter doesn't seem too likely.

I'm surprised that you feel AL offense became better in 2005. These are the 2005 positional OPS averages (Woolner, BBTN), AL/NL:
C 705/702
1B 801/845
2B 736/752
3B 756/786
SS 743/691
LF 769/805
CF 729/777
RF 783/802

We see the expected NL inferiority at SS, but the NL matches the AL at catcher and beats them everywhere else. If AL has an edge, sure looks more like it's pitching. (But again, I'm certainly prepared to be convinced otherwise by your article, when research is complete.)

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