Clifford & the Big Red Canadian

Last week I wrote to Rob in Iowa in response to an e-mail comment comparing Cliff Lee’s hard luck season to Ryan Dempster’s:

Lee’s run support is 4.9, which ranks him 92nd in the majors among the 99 pitchers who qualify, according to ESPN. The Reds’ Edinson Volquez is dead last at 4.02. Dempster is 70th (5.65).

How exactly does that break down, though?  Lee’s run support is almost five, but with an ERA under four, he has only one win?  Similarly, Dempster now has only five wins despite an ERA under two? (Note, ESPN’s Run Support is defined as “Team’s runs scored (average, per 9 innings pitched) while the pitcher of record”–so for example, the 10-6 win at the Mets on 5/30 only counts the one run the Phils scored while Lee was on the mound plus the two runs they scored during the inning they pinch hit for him before Bastardo replaced him, not the other seven runs, pro-rated on a 9 inning basis. The run support numbers below are the raw numbers, not pro-rated per 9– except, of course, where the number is zero.)

Lee’s 2012 run support per game (games the Phils won are in bold):

1, 1, 0†, 4, 3*, 0, 3, 3, 1, 4, 5, 3, 1, 9±, 1, 1

† 10 scoreless innings in 1-0, 11-inning loss at SF (¡vete al infierno, Antonio Bastardo!)

* 8 innings, 1 run, 10 strikeouts before Chad Qualls blew a save (Phils won 4-3 in 10 innings on Pence walkoff HR)

± 9-2 win at NYM— Lee’s only win of the season

For what it’s worth, Lee’s strikeouts per game:

4, 7, 7, 6, 10, 6, 7, 7, 12, 8, 3, 9, 3, 9, 4, 4

Lee’s three highest game scores, according to the Bill James formula:

April 18 at SF: the 1-0 loss at SF—10 scoreless innings, 7 K’s, game score of 85 (Matt Cain’s perfect game was 101, for comparison’s sake)

May 15 vs. Houston: the 4-3 win—an 8 inning no decision for Lee, game score of 77

June 5 vs. the Dodgers: a 2-1 loss–7.2 innings of two-run ball with a walk and 12 K’s, game score of 70

Lee’s record in his three highest game scores: 0-1

As for Dempster, his 2012 run support per game (games the Cubs won are in bold):

1, 1, 1, 3†, 1, 4, 0, 0, 3, 5, 6, 3, 4, 4

† 8 scoreless innings in a 4-3, 10-inning loss (Marmol blew a 3-0 lead, walking 3 batters, surrendering a hit to the other, and throwing only 6 of 18 pitches for strikes—one of which was the hit).  It was Dempster’s highest game score of the season (80).

Dempster’s strikeouts per game:

10, 5, 8, 6, 7, 5, 3, 6, 4, 3, 6, 3, 4, 5

Season totals:

Lee: 1-6, 3.72, 111.1 IP, 107 H, 22 BB, 106 K, 101 ERA+, 1.16 WHIP, 8.88 K/9, 4.86 K/BB, 11 HR, .333 BABIP, 2.96 FIP, 3.10 xFIP

Dempster: 5-3, 1.86 (leads NL), 92 IP, 69 H, 25 BB, 75 K, 211 ERA+ (leads NL), 1.022 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.00 K/BB, 6 HR, .242 BABIP, 3.13 FIP, 3.71 xFIP

That’s not a typo—balls in play are almost 100 points luckier for Dempster than for Lee; with normalized luck for both pitchers, Lee’s ERA would actually be lower than Dempster’s.

Enough has been written on Lee, I know, and probably on Dempster as well.  It’s difficult to argue either, especially Lee, has had a bad year, rather than a bad luck year.  Even, I would think, if you’re a Phillies fan.

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