Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Home vs. Away: 3 Pitchers Compared in the 2011 and 2012 Seasons

Felix with a bat
I was curious about something, so I did a little crunching of numbers to see what I could see.  One thing I saw was a whole lot of numbers, but I also saw something that jumped out at me.  I figured I'd share with the interwebs and let you be the judge, jury and possibly executioner.  I'm not sure we'd need one, but it's nice to have just in case.

This season was a major low in offense at Safeco Field, and not just because the Mariners offense was horrible.  Across all offenses in both dugouts, offense took a major hit.  It may have had something to do with the weather, maybe the fences need to be moved in, maybe it was just a blip in the stats.  Whatever the reason, I decided to take a look at the three pitchers who had nearly 100 innings pitched over the course of the season.  The cutoff was 97 innings, otherwise we'd just be looking at 2 guys from 2011 and 2012.

The three pitchers we'll look at are Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas and Blake Beavan.  We're looking at home/road splits not just for the 2012 season but the 2011 season also, to see how these three pitchers fared in the friendlier confines of Safeco this past season as compared to 2011.

We'll get into it after the jump, but first I'd like to point out that there are way more factors at play when it comes to the numbers.  While it tells some of the story, it doesn't tell all of it, but it does tend to paint a picture.  Unfortunately that picture is pained with a broom dripping in wet paint, but still, it's interesting.

The first pitcher on the list is Felix himself.  His overall ERA for the 2011 and 2012 seasons were 3.47 and 3.06, respectively.  In 2011, his home ERA was 3.67 and his road ERA was 3.28.  His SO/9 and SO/BB rates were better on the road and his BB/9 was the same both home and away.  His WHIP was marginally worse on the road, with home being 1.21 and road being 1.23.  Felix threw 10 more innings on the road did he did at home and for all intents and purposes, there was no discernible difference in his performance.

2012 was a different story.  Felix's home ERA was 2.78 and 3.43 on the road.  Every stat wasn't just a slight improvement between home and road.  In terms of raw numbers, they were eyebrow raising.  His SO/9 rate on the road was 7.6.  At home, it jumps to 9.5.  Same with his BB/9 and SO/BB rates.  BB/9 of 2.6 on the road and 1.9 at home, SO/BB of 2.97 on the road and 5.07 at home.  As I said earlier, these stats aren't the whole tail, but it gives you an idea.  At home, Felix was a monster.  On the road, Felix was more of a cute little baby monster just out of his shell.  So cute!

For Vargas and Beavan, I'm just going to paste a table below for you to peruse at your leisure.

Jason Vargas ERA SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2012 Home 2.74 6.3 2.0 3.14
Away 4.78 5.5 2.5 2.18
2011 Home 4.56 6.5 2.4 2.72
Away 3.79 4.9 3.0 1.63
Blake Beavan ERA SO/9 BB/9 SO/BB
2012 Home 3.66 3.4 1.1 3.00
Away 5.11 4.4 1.7 2.67
2011 Home 4.81 3.7 1.7 2.18
Away 3.46 4.2 0.9 4.50

Taking the raw numbers and calculating the stats for those three pitchers between 2011 and 2012 might give you a better understanding of just how big of a jump there was between the last two seasons.  The one big surprise for me was just how much worse Vargas and Beavan were at home in 2011.  Unfortunately, I couldn't include guys like Michael Pineda and Erasmo Ramirez because they pitched in one season or the other and not both.  It makes it slightly difficult to compare one season to another.  You can do it with an entire pitching staff, but I wanted to see how big the difference was.

I think the fences moving in will do a little damage to the pitching staff's ERA this next season and beyond, but it depends on the pitcher. This past season may be a sign of things to come or it may just be an anomaly.  We really won't know until the end of next season.  It'll be interesting to see how it plays out and whether or not the offensive Death Valley that is Safeco Field continues to haunt batters.

As a closer, rather than writing something, I'm just going to post this at the bottom of the page so it looks pretty.  That and I made the thing, so I may as well put it to use.


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