Sit down. Buckle up. We're taking the long bumpy road to Luke Hochevar ain't half bad (as of today*).
Of course, he ain't half good either, but let's save that for another post after we all settle down a bit from this whopper.
After a summer of Good Luke/Bad Luke talk, turns out there is a stat for that - Runs Allowed by Team in Starts (RATS).
The Origin of RATS
A rare event occurred when the 1998 Yankees and 2001 Mariners won more than 110 games in a season. Nearly every year a team wins 100 or more games. Occasionally, teams make a big jump in wins like the Tampa Bay Rays did from 2007 to 2008.
If you dissect the key factors in wining, nearly every analysis points to pitching as the most important factor, and within pitching, starting pitchers are considered to have the biggest impact on winning. Nothing new here.
When analyzing starting pitchers, which stat is the most important? Is there a stat that directly connects starting pitcher performance to winning?
The simple definition of winning is scoring more runs than you give up. The Runs Allowed Distribution table provides interesting clues about winning. In 2012, similar to most years, if a team allows less than four runs, they'll have a winning record. Allowing four or more runs, they'll have a losing record.
The RATS stat is simply the percent of games a pitcher starts in which the team allows less than four runs. The year-to-date RATS is at 45% (with a .816 win rate) for American League teams.
To have a good RATS value, starters need to pitch effectively deep into a game more often than pitching poorly for fewer innings (Good Luke vs. Bad Luke).
Using the 45% RATS number for 2012 as a benchmark, the two recent big win total years (Yankees, Mariners) had 51% RATS, while the Tampa Bay turnaround went from a 30% RATS to a 46% RATS, that's 26 mores games allowing less than four runs.
Impressive American League RATS
The following table shows RATS values for several notable pitchers in 2012 and the 2009 Greinke Cy Young year. Verlander's 69% RATS is impressive. Greinke's 64% RATS might seem low, but recall that Greinke had a series of bad outings in the middle of the summer before finishing strong.
RATS in Kansas City
Despite having a rough year and losing record, Kansas City basically has a league average 44% RATS (and higher .836 win rate). Taking a look at the four main starters in 2012, Hochevar has the biggest RATS - 50%, that's clearly better than Chen/Smith with 37% RATS and Mendoza's scary ugly toothless 17% RATS.
The Yankees and Mariners rode a 51% RATS to 110+ wins, so with a 50% RATS, Hochevar ain't half bad.