Thursday, September 29, 2005

Izzy vs. Lidge

I've heard it many, many times. From the timid "this guy makes me nervous" to the extreme "I hate this guy." Let's face it - Jason Isringhausen is viewed by many, if not most Cardinal fans, as a tightrope walker who more often than not blows the game. Meanwhile, Brad Lidge is viewed as the un-hittable closer. When he comes in, it's lights out. Is the difference between these two really that different this year?

Traditional Stats

4-3, 40 saves, 3 blown saves, 2.13 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

1-2, 37 saves, 4 blown saves, 2.21 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

Not a lot to get upset about, is there? Izzy allows 0.06 more baserunners per inning, and 0.08 more runs every 9 innings he pitches. Sure, he's blown 1 more save, but he's lost 1 less game. His save percentage (90%) is just lagging that of Lidge (93%).

More Traditional Stats

As in, "let's look at some more" as opposed to "these are more traditional."

101 K's, 23 BB's, 67.2 innings, 5 HR

48K's, 25 BB's, 57 IP, 4 HR

This, obviously, is the big difference. Lidge strikes out an insane amount of batters, while Izzy walks too many. I can understand the awe that is created by a guy that strikeouts out more than a batter an inning. I can also understand the frustration created by a guy that walks a batter every other inning. Of course, that's why statistics can be an important tool. Other than frustration, does it matter how many baserunners Izzy allows, as long as he's not giving up as many hits? (WHIP). Or as long as he's getting the job done? (Losses, Blown Saves.) Realistically, no. Emotionally? That's a little different.

One other note - Lidge has allowed 0.66 HR/9 IP, Izzy 0.63 HR/9 IP. Dead even.

Batting Stats Allowed

657 OPS Allowed vs. Left
563 OPS Allowed vs. Right
609 OPS Allowed Overall

498 OPS Allowed vs. Left
667 OPS Allowed vs. Right
591 OPS Allowed Overall

That's right, folks. Jason Isringhausen has a lower OPS allowed than Brad Lidge this season. "But wait!" you say. "Lidge plays his home games in a home run park." I don't know about you, but I hadn't paid any attention to park factors this year. Have you seen them? According to ESPN, Busch stadium has been the 4th most offense friendly park in the majors this season. Minute Maid Park? Last!? 43.8% fewer runs have been scored in Houston than in an average park this year. Yes, that is partly impacted by Houston's pitching and lack of hitting, but remember that the numbers for both home and road teams are taken into account in park factors. (I wonder how many Cy Young voters take park effects into consideration, since Carpenter is the only contender playing in a park that hasn't been pitcher friendly?)

That's freaky. But whatever the case, Izzy has a lower OPS allowed, and has done so while playing in (for this year at least) a park more friendly to hitters than Lidge has.

Less Popular Stats

11 Win Shares, 6 WSAB, 22.6 VORP

9 Win Shares, 5 WSAB, 21.0 VORP

Lidge does come out a bit on top when it comes to these metrics. Basically, Lidge has been worth about 2/3 of a win more than Izzy this year, and about 1.6 more runs over a replacement pitcher. Lidge's VORP ranks 95th among pitchers in the majors, while Izzy ranks 107th.

(For another oddity, both rank 2nd on their team in VORP - Russ Springer leads the Astros, while Al Reyes leads the Cards.)


So, what's my point? Basically, I just wanted to point out that Izzy isn't quite disaster waiting to happen that many, many Cardinal fans make him out to be. If I needed a strikeout to win a game and had the luxury of choosing between Lidge and Izzy? I'd go with Lidge. Duh. But you know what? Isringhausen has been getting the job done this year. He may not be going about it in as sexy of a manner as Lidge, but the truth of the matter is - the closer is not even close to the top of the list of my post-season concerns this year.


At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:56 AM, Anonymous rockin redbird said...

Thanks for the numbers on Izzy. I suspected as much, but as a natural doom & gloomer, I always assume the worst. Good to know I'm wrong.

I think the previous poster is a Chicago Flubfan trying desperately to make himself relevant.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Hummingbird said...

As always, very good stuff--insightful and reassuring is a rare thing these last coupla nutty weeks.

My only quibble is with the strikeout issue. Yes, it's a "sexy" stat that is easy to overvalue, but in truth, it does matter that Lidge strikes out way more hitters than Izzy. Striking a guy out isn't just another out--it keeps the ball out of play, where bad things can happen (see Wednesday's game). When you strike a guy out, you don't have to depend on your defense; Izzy, let's face it, leans more on the excellent defense behind him. Lidge's DIPS ERA is 2.32, Izzy's is 3.56. That's a pretty large difference, and the gap between Izzy's ERA and DIPSERA suggests that he's been the beneficiary of some breaks this year. I agree that what matters are the results--as long as we're talking about the past. When trying to soothe fears about the future, though, "results" that have an element of luck to them aren't as relevant or reassuring.

I'm still a huge Izzy fan, and he is mostly effective...I just wish I was wrong about this. I don't think I am.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Looks like ESPN's park factors are wonky. According to baseball prospectus, they've got Houston at 0.995 PF and St. Louis at 0.986. Not sure where ESPN got their numbers.


At 8:57 AM, Blogger Robb said...

I wonder if ESPN does 1 year at a time, while BP does multiple years?

I certainly wouldn't be surprised if something is out of whack.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Looking at the numbers:

In Houston: 360 RS, 271 RA

On road: 333 RS, 338 RA

Take the ratio, and average scoring per game in Houston is about 94% of average scoring is Astros road games, which comes out to a PF of ~0.97 or so.

I think ESPN is comparing scoring in Houston to overall NL averages, not to how the Astros and their opponents do on the road.


At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Zubin said...

I'm skeptical about MinuteMaid not being a hitters park. Could the numbers be biased by Clemmens and Petite working more home games or something?

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