Another minor league season come and gone, and what a jaw dropper it was. Subber10 took a wonderful look at the Fresno Grizzlies yesterday in this article when deciding upon Matt Duffy for the team MVP for the season.
Today, it’s time to examine the pitchers.
The first thing which must be established is: What should we call the best pitcher in 2015 for the Fresno Grizzlies?
For the sake of brevity and familiarity, we’re going to proceed with calling the best pitcher the team’s Cy Young winner.
When examining the possible candidates, there are several possibilities. James Hoyt in particular has been great this year for the Grizzlies, posting a 3.49 ERA, 2.03 FIP, a 12.12 K/9 rate, a 26.1 K-BB%, a .244 opponents’ batting average, and a 1.20 WHIP. These stellar numbers though stack up next to nine saves to preclude James Hoyt from this discussion, in this writer’s mind. Full disclosure: it is usually my personal penchant to lean towards awarding pitchers who start games because they tend to affect more innings over the course of a season than relievers.
So, after eliminating James Hoyt from the discussion (while privately hoping he makes his debut with the Astros any day now to provide a shot in the arm to the bullpen) for the Triple-A Cy Young award, we move on to the starters. After narrowing the field to exclude any pitcher who started fewer than twelve games for Fresno, here is the field which remains.
Notice the columns in blue, and the "total" column in red. As Mike Hauschild, Dan Straily and Brett Oberhbolzer all have fairly similar Triple-A stats – or at least, each man commands the field in one area over the others – I decided to apply a simple formula to my rankings system. I sorted this table according to the blue columns and then assigned each pitcher a value (one through seven) in each field, from best to worst. So the lowest FIP got a "one" ranking, while the highest K/9 also received a "one" ranking. After tallying the totals for each of the seven players in the eight statistical fields I selected (ERA, FIP, SO, K/9, BB/9, Opponent’s average against, WHIP, and K-BB%) I entered the values for each in the red "total" field and then sorted based on that. The goal for each pitcher was to achieve the lowest score, like golf. As you can see, Mike Hauschild actually scored the best of any Fresno pitcher based on these criteria. Dan Straily was a close second.
However, when you compare the numbers of the two pitchers, several things leap out which tell me that despite Hauschild having a slightly better overall ranking here, that Straily should actually receive the Fresno Cy Young Award this season.
Firstly, though Hauschild’s ERA is much better (3.49 to Straily’s 4.77), Straily actually posted a slightly better FIP (3.66 to Hauschild’s 3.70) and part of that can surely be lain at the feet of an extraordinarily high BABIP for Straily (.356 to Hauschild’s .314). In this writer’s estimation, FIP (or xFIP) is a much truer metric to gauge a pitcher’s effectiveness…and some bad BABIP luck for Straily strengthens his position as well.
Secondly, the innings pitched. Fair or not, Dan Straily pitched nearly the entire 2015 season with Fresno…while Hauschild "only" pitched his final 87.2 innings there. He started/pitched in seven more games than Hauschild and still walked two fewer batters overall.
Finally, almost all of the other metrics for Straily are better than Hauschild’s. The aforementioned walk total, his BB/9 innings was nearly an entire walk better (1.83 for Straily versus 2.77 for Hauschild) while Straily’s K/9 innings numbers were slightly better (9.10 for Straily against 8.32 for Hauschild) and his K-BB% was significantly better (18.3% for Straily to 14.5% for Hauschild).
Other candidates posted better opponent’s batting averages (all six other pitchers, actually – Straily’s opponent average was a fairly anemic .287) and better WHIPs (Straily posted the third worst WHIP of the seven selected pitchers at 1.40) but overall, Straily was the most consistent, highest performing, and longest tenured starter for the Fresno Grizzlies. Congratulations to him on his selection as our Triple-A Cy Young Winner for the 2015 season.