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Astros Starting Pitcher Run Support

Last week, I made a post about starting pitchers and wins. By and large, these players' value is still measured by whether or not they have a "W" or an "L" behind their names in the boxscore. There is a lot more than balls and strikes that goes into determining the pitcher's fate, and much of it he cannot help.

What I wondered about was whether a particular type of pitcher, ground ball or fly ball, tended to get better run support in games that he started. Announcers love to note that pitchers that work quicker, and induce more grounders than not have better defense played behind them. The argument is that their defense is more alert and active, which keeps their heads in the game. Can this theory be translated in any way to the other side of the coin? Here is what I found for four Astros starters in 2009:


Starting Pitcher GB/FB Ratio Runs Support/Game
Wandy Rodriguez .69 7.27
Brandon Backe .65 7.07
Brian Moehler .82 6.54
Roy Oswalt 1.07 5.82


Roy was by far the best at inducing the ground ball, and got 1.25 less runs on average than our worst ground ball starter, Brandon Backe. For what it's worth, I couldn't find any stats on "starting pitcher average game length", but Roy is the fastest worker in the Astros' starting pitching staff. It looks like the Astros offense in 2008 didn't care who was starting that day.

Taken as a whole, the starting pitchers who received the most run support are a mish mosh of good and bad. The top twenty pitchers includes names like Sidney Ponson and Tom Gorzelanny, but also Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly. Maybe the most consistent result of this little study was that the Cubs supported their pitchers on a regular basis better than any other team just about. I now regret writing this.