Season Score Update

The fifth anniversary of my wedding is also the four-week anniversary of the 2011 baseball season and the nine-day anniversary of my introduction of Season Scores. What better time to take a look at the best pitching performances from the young baseball season?

First, a quick update on what a Season Score is. A Game Score is a measure of a starting pitcher’s effectiveness in a single game, starting with 50 points, adding points for innings pitched and strikeouts, and subtracting points for hits, walks, and runs allowed. A Season Score reduces each Game Score by 45 points to account for value above replacement level and adds the resulting scores together throughout a season, measuring a pitcher’s cumulative effectiveness. An average Game Score for a regular major league starting pitcher is between 50 and 55, so an average score at this point in the season is about 40 (53 – 45 x 5 starts). Mike Leake, whose season has been anything but average off the field, has been perhaps the most average pitcher in baseball so far, as measured by his 39 Season Score, his 4.40 ERA (with a 4.11 FIP), or his 26/10 K/BB ratio in just over 6 innings per start. Leake’s 3-0 record proves just how inaccurate win-loss record is at measuring a pitcher’s effectiveness.

Without further ado, the most valuable pitchers in each league so far this season, per Season Score:

National League
Pitcher Team # Starts Season Score
1. Johnson FLA 5 131
2. Lohse STL 5 121
3. Lincecum SF 5 86
4. Hanson ATL 6 84
5. de la Rosa COL 5 79
6. Hamels PHI 5 75
7. GarciaJ STL 5 69
7. Kershaw LAD 6 69
9. Marcum MIL 5 63
10. Jurrjens ATL 3 62
11. Halladay PHI 6 61
11. Lee PHI 5 61
13. Beachy ATL 5 59
14. Wolf MIL 5 58
15. Moseley SD 5 57
15. Nolasco FLA 5 57
17. Lowe ATL 6 56
18. Chacin COL 4 52
18. Oswalt PHI 5 52
18. SanchezJ SF 5 52

It’s no surprise that Josh Johnson has been the league’s best pitcher so far, but who saw Kyle Lohse coming? Lohse has thrown almost 8 innings per start, issuing just five walks. His 1.64 ERA will be hard to sustain if he keeps striking out fewer than six batters per nine innings, as he has throughout his career, but if he keeps avoiding walks and homers (just one so far), the Cardinals might miss Adam Wainwright a little less.

Jair Jurrjens returned from injury with a flourish, recording Game Scores of 76, 58, and 63 in his first three starts.

Poor Dustin Moseley is 0-3 for his efforts, as the Padres didn’t score a run for him until the second inning of his fifth start.

The best single performance in the NL so far was Cliff Lee’s complete game, three-hit, 12-strikeout game against Washington on the 14th, a Game Score of 92. Ian Kennedy’s 10-k three-hitter on Monday against Lee’s Phillies was the next best game, at 91. Only Johnson has two games of 80 or better.

American League
Pitcher Team # Starts Season Score
1. Weaver LAA 6 172
2. Haren LAA 6 143
3. Beckett BOS 5 102
4. Shields TB 5 97
5. Anderson OAK 5 90
5. Verlander DET 6 90
7. Tomlin CLE 5 78
8. Lester BOS 5 76
9. Masterson CLE 5 73
10. Price TB 5 71
11. Ogando TEX 4 69
12. Pineda SEA 4 68
13. Floyd CWS 5 67
14. Cahill OAK 5 66
15. Romero TOR 5 64
15. Sabathia NYY 5 64
17. Guthrie BAL 5 62
18. HernandezF SEA 6 61
19. Britton BAL 5 59
19. Danks CWS 5 59

I’ve written enough about Weaver and Haren. The A’s series against the Angels cost them a few names on this list, as Gio Gonzalez and Brandon McCarthy both fell out of the top 20. Now only the Braves have four pitchers in their league’s top 20, and nominal ace Tim Hudson is the odd man out.

Of the four rookies or near-rookies in the top 20, Josh Tomlin is probably the biggest surprise, and probably the best candidate for regression, as his 18 strikeouts, eight walks, and five home runs in 33 innings suggest that he won’t keep up his 2.45 ERA.

Michael Pineda, meanwhile, may to be for real, as he’s struck out 21 against nine walks and has yet to give up a home run in 25 1/3 innings.

John Danks is the Dustin Moseley of the American League, sitting at 0-3 despite pitching well so far. Danks has received much more run support than Moseley, as can be expected in US Cellular Field, but he keeps coming up just short.

Note that every AL team but the Twins and Royals is represented in the top 20. Minnesota’s Scott Baker is on the cusp, with a Season Score of 53, while Kansas City’s best starter has been Bruce Chen at 30. Time to stretch out Joakim Soria?

The best AL pitching performance so far was another 91, Dan Haren’s one-hitter against the Indians on the 12th. Josh Beckett’s eight innings of domination against the Yankees on the 10th was next, at 87. Only James Shields has two games of 80 of better in the American League.

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4 Responses to Season Score Update

  1. unholyunion says:

    That’s too many stats for me. All I know is that the Phillies are beating the Mets this weekend.

  2. giantsfan89 says:

    the phillies have 4 pitchers in your top 20 as well…

  3. Hark says:

    Only Atlanta has 4 pitchers in their league’s top 20? My gosh, what is wrong with that Phillies Rotation of Doom!?

    Oh, no, they’re all there, too.

    • Bryan says:

      So… as a few of you noticed, there were four Phillies in the NL’s top 20 too. Shame on me. Interesting, though, that Hanson is ahead of Hamels, Jurrjens is ahead of Halladay, Beachy is close to Lee, and Lowe is ahead of Oswalt. Not necessarily meaningful, but interesting.

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