Kevin Millwood, Paul Byrd and Eric Milton have demonstrated that results can be predicted by a laptop computer.
I don’t get all of my predictions right, like when I wrote that Raul Mondesi would finish with more Runs Created * than Pat Burrell this season. (Come on, Weitzel, that’s brutal.)
Burrell: 102 RC
Mondesi: 9 RC
However, I was right on target with my predictions on how some ex-Phillies pitchers would fare in their new environments. All three are among the most misunderstood pitchers in baseball. Hmm. I wonder which media market fostered those misconceptions.
Kevin Millwood has the lowest ERA in the American League with a 2.97. This is a feather in the cap of a couple of bloggers, including this site and Mike Berquist’s now defunct Citizen’s Blog. Millwood was a late addition for the Tribe, and possibly the smartest pickup of the high-priced offseason. For some reason, teams didn’t bite on the steady Millwood, who’s consistently among the most unlucky pitchers in baseball. This season, he’s 8-12 because the Indians never score runs when he’s on the hill. Still, Millwood is a model of consistentcy, and gives the Tribe a very steady arm as they push toward October.
In Philadelphia, he never settled in because he didn’t live up to the fan’s idea of an ace. Ace this. Here’s how a couple of available "aces" this winter fared in their last starts: Randy Johnson (1.2 innings, 3 ER); Matt Clement (1.1 innings, 7 ER); Brad Radke (5 innings, 5 ER); David Wells (2.2 innings, 2 ER).
Paul Byrd of the Angels was another late winter addition. Teams may have been weary of his health history, but pitchers who come off Tommy John often get better. Byrd recently dropped his season ERA to 3.62 following four strong starts in a row. Like Millwood, Byrd would have been a nice pickup for the Phils, but the fickle fans in this town would have had a field day with bringing back both of these guys.
On the other hand, fans lobbied hard for the team to resign Eric Milton, the Phils’ winningest pitcher last season. Nerds knew that Milton is the worst possible pitcher to work in Citizen’s Bank Park because of his tremendous home run ratio. For some reason, the Reds signed him to a long-term deal to pitch in their own bandbox. Not surprisingly, he’s been an incredible bust (7-14, 6.84, 40 HR).
*Runs Created. Invented by Bill James, RC is a very good measure of the number of runs a batter truly contributed to his team’s offense. The basic formula for RC is OBP*TB, but it has evolved into over fourteen different versions. The Hardball Times uses the most complicated version, which includes the impact of hitting well with runners in scoring position, and is adjusted for ballpark impact.