Blind Comparisons: April 29th, 2016

An activity I like to do, and that I will likely post to this blog periodically, is to take two unnamed players and compare them statistically. This allows the reader to create an unbiased opinion of each, to see which is the better player, which is the riskier player, or simply who they would rather have on their team. It is a concept that can apply to real-life player analysis (though not completely accurate without providing a pitch repertoire), or to make simple fantasy team decisions. So without further delay, here are the stats of the two players who I have chosen to compare today, both right-handed pitchers.

Stats.jpg

At first glance, what stands out to me is the difference in sample size between the two players listed. Player A is 30 years of age and is starting his 8th MLB season, while Player B is only 26 and entering his 3rd MLB season. As a result, Player A appears to be more reliable at this point, averaging about 6.1 IP per start throughout his career, in comparison to just 5.2 IP per start for Player B. Furthermore, since it takes 6 IP to log a Quality Start, it would seem that Player B’s inability to go as deep into games had a direct negative effect on their QS stat in 2015, posting only 11 QS to Player A’s 22. Thus, it can be concluded that at the current point in each players’ career, Player A is the more reliable starter to this point.

Beyond innings pitched, however, which have the potential to even out as Player B progresses further into his career, deciding on the better player becomes a lot less clear. Player A leads in BB/9, K/BB, and ERA, while Player B leads in K/9 and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). What is most notable in my opinion is that Player B saw an improvement of almost a full strikeout per nine innings in his 2015 season compared to his career, which bodes well for his future output given his age. This stat appears even more significant when noting that Player B struck out more batters (167) than Player A (164), but in almost 20 fewer IP. It also makes sense that Player A leads in K/BB, as he seems to rely on control a bit more than Player A. As far as the comparisons between ERA and FIP, it would appear that Player A has consistently benefitted from his fielders’ play throughout his career, while Player B has been consistently hurt. The career ERAs, 3.25 for Player A and 3.49 for Player B, are very comparable and represent number 2 to 3 starter material, as do the career 3.38 and 3.28 FIPs for Players A and B respectively. While I prefer to use FIP to determine a pitcher’s talent, I do not think it is a fluke that Player A has consistently pitched better than his FIP shows, as this could be the result of him drawing more soft contact. Similarly, I do not think that Player B will always carry an ERA significantly higher than his FIP, as that would be an awfully unlucky trend throughout the course of a player’s career. Ultimately, I would say that if you are looking for a dependable starter with great control, who can be expected to pitch to about a 3.50 ERA year in and year out, then the sturdy 30-year-old is the way to go. But, if you are looking for someone who can also be expected to pitch to a  sub-3 ERA, has solid control, but also has the potential for better ERA and SO numbers as he progresses into the prime of his career, then Player B is the choice for you.

The last piece of information that I would like to list about the above players is their current contracts. While I am sure that, as it stands right now, a majority of people would rather take the safer pick in Player A, I feel that involving money could sway some opinions. Contracts are as follows:

Contracts.jpg

As can be seen, Player A has been well-compensated for his success in his first seven major league seasons so far, while Player B has yet to log enough service time to cash in on his success so far. As a result, Player B has a very clear contract advantage over Player B. Putting contracts into perspective, deciding on a player preference becomes much more difficult. Below are the names of the two players talked about in this article:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

PLAYER A: SP Jordan Zimmerman, DET

PLAYER B: SP Kyle Hendricks, CHC

*Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs

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