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Around The Yankees Galaxy 9/9/10

Statistics don't mean a lot when it comes to some our perceptions about baseball. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. From an entertainment perspective, we wouldn't want to award the World Series trophy to the team with the best run differential, or give the Cy Young award to the pitcher with the best xFIP. That would be pretty boring.

But statistics aren't inherently bad, and analysis can be entertaining (at least it is to me). And I'm fascinated at how there can sometimes be such a divergence between what our perception says and what the statistics suggest.

Try a little experiment with me. Before reading further, take the poll:

Hughes is the winner, right? He has to be. But why?

Here's my point. Joba Chamberlain's 2009 season was widely viewed as a disappointment. He posted a 90 ERA+, 4.56 xFIP, and 1.5 WAR. Not bad, especially not bad for a 24 year old starting pitcher in the AL East, but his performance was nowhere near the massively unrealistic expectations placed upon him. Fast forward to 2010, where Phil Hughes has been viewed as a success while posting (so far) nearly identical numbers (93 ERA+, 4.36 xFIP, and 1.9 WAR) as a 24 year old starting pitcher in the AL East.

Obviously, Hughes has been the better pitcher. He's gone deeper in games on average, and for the most part has avoided the 4.2 inning, 110 pitch stinkers that Joba posted about once a month last season. Yet with the season nearly over, the difference in their actual value is relatively small - 3 points of ERA+, 20 points of xFIP, and .4 WAR - but the difference in their perceived value is massive. Why? Why is Hughes going to be in the postseason rotation, yet Joba was banished to the bullpen last October? Why won't Hughes have to fight for his rotation spot in spring training next year?

If you can answer these questions, please share. You're smarter than I am.

  • Looks like Jorge Posada is alright. He'll be day-to-day, which is fine, as the Yankees are virtually a lock for the playoffs at this point.
  • It's About The Money highlights another recent example of why the save statistic is counterproductive.
  • Andy Pettitte might get a playoff win tonight, against a bunch of guys who are 20 years younger than he his. And you thought that could only happen with Jamie Moyer....