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December 26, 2006

Roger Clemens - Behind The Numbers

I was just looking at some of Roger Clemens' numbers from last year in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 - being curious since The Rocket may be on the Yankees Free Agent radar now - with the confirmation that they are shopping Randy Johnson.

In his 113.3 IP last year, Clemens faced 451 batters and had an ERA of 2.30 - which is a nifty figure, at face value.

However, in addition to that ERA stat, here are some other numbers on Roger from last year: his DER was .722 and his FIP was 3.07 - which tell part of an interesting story.

DER is the percent of times that a batted ball is turned into an out - not including homers. FIP is a measure, expressed sort of like ERA, of all things a pitcher is responsible for regardless of how well his fielders did.

For a compare on the Astros, Roy Oswalt had a DER of .692 and Andy Pettitte had a DER of .664. This tells you that Clemens was pretty lucky with getting batted balls turned into outs. And, this could explain the difference between his ERA and FIP.

Further, last year, 49% of the batted balls against Clemens last year were grounders. While that's just a few ticks above major league average, it's still above average. This suggests that Roger took advantage of having a good fielding infield at Houston last season. (According to the "Team Defense" feature in THT 2007, the Astros had the 5th best overall team defense in the N.L. in 2006. The Yankees, last year, for what it's worth, had the 27th worst team defense in all of baseball by the same measures.)

Seeing all this, if anyone is expecting Clemens to join the Yankees, at age 44, next season, and post an ERA under three, well, that would be a mistake.

In fact, Roger Clemens' lifetime Yankees ERA is 3.99 - and that was posted during his ages 36-40.

Given the time that has passed, it's reasonable to figure that Roger Clemens, if a member of the Yankees in 2007, will fashion an ERA in the fours - rather than one in the threes (or below).

I hope the Yankees realize this reasonable expectation, and the price-tag for Rocket next year, and proceed as warranted.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at December 26, 2006 08:43 PM

Comments

Steve I know what you're saying and I agree that no one should expect Clemens to come in and pitch anywhere close to what he did in Houston. That being said, a half-season rental still has value. I am not sure I see a downside in paying money for a few months. No long term contract, no character or personality issues, no question marks of any sort. If Clemens comes in for 17 starts and goes 10-5 with a 3.85 ERA, would that not be valuable to the team? Would that not be a worthwhile investment?

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2006 09:22 PM

The Yankees, last year, for what it's worth, had the 27th worst team defense in all of baseball by the same measures.)
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Which makes Wang's season all the more impressive

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2006 09:41 PM

Steve, why so negative?
"....the Astros had the 5th best overall team defense in the N.L. in 2006"

".....had the 27th worst team defense in all of baseball"

I would have said that the Yankees had the 27th BEST team defense.

Like they said in Talladega Nights, "if you ain't first, your last". The Yanks weren't first, but they weren't last.

Posted by: Garcia [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2006 09:46 PM

Garcia, I think Steve meant the Yanks were 27th best. Since there 31 teams, that means they were 5th from the bottom. Ugh!

Posted by: David [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2006 10:50 PM

31 teams?

Posted by: JohnnyC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2006 10:56 PM

Yes, what I meant that was the Yanks were #27 out of 30.

~~~If Clemens comes in for 17 starts and goes 10-5 with a 3.85 ERA, would that not be valuable to the team? Would that not be a worthwhile investment?~~~

Yes. But, what are the odds of that happening, given the stats presented?

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 26, 2006 11:17 PM

Steve--It does not take a genius to figure out the Roger will not perform the same with us as he did with the Astros. He performed the worst in his career with the Yankees, even including his win-total-driven Cy Young year, and will probably repeat the feat. If we were to get him, we could probably expect a 4.35 ERA.

It's also obvious that he will not only get the bad luck on balls hit in play, but also the bad defense. To top that, he is a SO pitcher, and SO pitchers do not fare well with the Yankees, because of umpire calls and better at-bats put forth by the opposition. The time that has passed from his 36-40 years bear no relevance on what his performance will be but for injuries, and neither should the amount of money we spend on him bear any relevance to the conversation. We should spend whatever it takes to get him, *especially* if we decide to let RJ go for nothing (which I think is a mistake, b/c he could always be the old RJ trying to get to 300 and 1 extra starter doesn't hurt).

Posted by: DonnieDosTresBaseball [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 27, 2006 01:05 AM