Cliff Lee faces the Royals for the fifth time of the season tonight, lookig to further inflate his stats against the weak underbelly of the American League. As Joe Sheehan pointed out earlier this week, level of competition has played a large role in Lee's success:
Cliff Lee has made 28 starts this season, Roy Halladay 29. Of those, 13 are in-common starts: the A’s, Rays and Rangers twice, and the Angels, White Sox, Reds, Royals, Twins, Yankees and Mariners once. Those starts cancel out. Of the remaining starts, there seems to be a very wide gap in the calilber of competition, enough to at least mention. Of the 15 starts Cliff Lee does not have in common with Halladay, nine have come against teams in the bottom third in offense, as ranked by team EqA, and none have come against a team ranked in the top six.
Looking at it from the other direction, Halladay does not have a single not-in-common start against a team ranked below 18th in EqA. So of the 15 (in Halladay’s case, 16) not in common starts between the two, 60% of Lee’s have come against offenses worse than any of Halladay’s. Halladay also has four not-in-common starts (one against the Cubs, three against the Red Sox) better than any of Lee’s.
Let me run the data this way, because I think it illustrates the point. The following numbers are the team EqA ranks for each not-in-common opponent, highest to lowest.
Halladay: 3, 4, 4, 4, 9, 9, 9, 11, 11, 14, 14, 14, 14, 17, 18, 18
Lee: 7, 7, 7, 12, 13, 13, 21, 22, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 28, 28It helps if you read those numbers right to left. It’s clear from this data that Cliff Lee has seen a significantly inferior set of opponents than Halladay has.
In other news, guess who ole Trey is starting tonight at DH? The nightmare continues...