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Roger Clemens and the Exquisite Agony of No Run Support

It is sometimes so hard to refrain from the juvenile puns . . . . I guess Ray Kerby no longer makes his Astros statistical engine available on his website, but I've got a copy that I update every year, and from time to time I'll take the thing out and play with it, as I did today.

Everyone talks about how the Rocket is getting shortchanged, but no-one quantifies it, you know what I mean?

Well, instead of just complaining, I looked at the numbers to see where Roger stands in terms of the most "underappreciated" Astros pitchers of all times. In other words, of all the pitchers in Astros history who found themselves with a shiny ERA to go with a poor-to-ordinary won loss record, which ones were most heinously ruined by their lack of offensive support? And again, where does the Rocket this year rank with these? The formula I used is very simple, almost too much so: I simply eliminated those pitchers who had a won-loss percentage lower than .250, then took the reciprocals of both ERA and win percentage for the rest, and multiplied them. That certainly SEEMS too simplistic, but look at the results, both at the top and bottom. Empirically, you'd hope that the seasons you intuitively guess belong would be ranked. Most longterm fans would name Nolan Ryan's 1987 season as the most infamous pitching season in team history, with a .333 winning percentage to go with a 2.76 ERA, and you'd hope that any system you'd devise would rank it pretty high.

And there it is.

And hopefully, your system would recognize the other side of the coin: those who had a crappy ERA but got lucky. And if you're reading this, you probably didn't have to be prompted to say "Elarton's 2000 season," or "Robertson's 2003 season."

So, yes I think it works, and yes I think that, at least so far, Clemens is on pace to have the most-unrewarded pitching season in Astros history. . . .

Top Ten Unlucky Seasons
Good ERA Bad Record
Year Pitcher Starts Wins Losses ERA Pct 1/(ERA*Pct)
Rocket, This Year . . .
2005 Roger Clemens 11 3 3 1.30 .500 1.540
And the Historical Comp . . .
1987 Nolan Ryan 34 8 16 2.76 .333 1.085
1962 Dick Farrell 29 10 20 3.02 .333 .995
1983 Bob Knepper 29 6 13 3.19 .316 .992
1963 Hal Brown 20 5 11 3.31 .313 .966
1963 Ken Johnson 32 11 17 2.65 .393 .960
1980 Joaquin Andujar 14 3 8 3.91 .273 .938
1976 Joe Niekro 13 4 8 3.36 .333 .894
1968 Denny Lemaster 32 10 15 2.81 .400 .889
1968 Mike Cuellar 24 8 11 2.74 .421 .866
1976 Dan Larson 13 5 8 3.02 .385 .860

To compare, the bottom five. . . .

Top Five Lucky Seasons
Bad ERA Good Record
Year Pitcher Starts Wins Losses ERA Pct 1/(ERA*Pct)
1994 Brian Williams 13 6 5 5.74 .545 .319
2003 Jeriome Robertson 31 15 9 5.05 .625 .317
1994 Pete Harnisch 17 8 5 5.40 .615 .301
2000 Scott Elarton 30 17 7 4.81 .708 .293
2001 Dave Mlicki 14 7 3 5.09 .700 .281

But maybe you think different?