Saturday, October 15, 2005

Nats Pitching Strategy Alert!

[I hate Blogger, I previously lost this post]

DM, Dexy's and I have talked at length both on and off Nats Blog about the optimal use of the extreme nature of RFK stadium as a pitcher's park. In short, the strategy is this:

(1) RFK is an extreme pitcher's park

(2) With the exception of Citizen's Bank in Philadelphia, the other parks in the NL East are neutral or good pitcher's parks. (Pro Player is 94/95, Shea was 99/99 in 2005, but has been consistently a pitcher's park, Turner Field is traditionally neutral). Thus, the Nats play about 70% of their games in good pitcher's parks. (81 RFK, 9 Pro Player, 9 Shea, 3-6 SBC, 3-6 Petco, 3-6 Dodger Stadium)

(3) As a result, the Nats' pitchers will have lower ERAs than their peripherals would suggest, thus artificially inflating their value.

(4) The Nats can use the artificially inflated value of their pitchers to trade for other teams' prospects or valuable position players.

(5) The cycle can repeat itself as the Nats pick up replacement-level pitchers, have RFK deflate their ERA's, while the same time declaring the Nats' pitching coach is a Mazzone-esque "genius" who "turns pitchers around."

I've identified the first real catch of this strategy. Victor Santos became a free agent after he refused an assignment to the Brewers' AAA team. Santos, who was 29 this year, posted a 4.57 ERA this year and a lackluster 4-13 record. His ERA+ was 92 in pitching-neutral Miller Park. He does not walk an extreme number of people - he walked 3.85 per 9 in 2005 after walking about 3.2 per 9 in 2004, and is flyball/groundball neutral. He's got an 11 win season in his past with Milwaukee in 2004.

To me, Santos is the perfect guy to sign as a test of the strategy. The Nats sign him for $500,000 with an option for $1.5 million the next year, have him go 6-7 in the 5th starter slot with a 4.00 ERA, and then flip him to a contender who needs rotation help in July for a prospect or a hitter, and laugh all the way to the bank as Santos blows up for his new team. Then find the next Victor Santos.


At 11:27 AM, Blogger Nate said...

With the Nats being utterly devoid of pitching depth a guy like Santos would be a good pick-up even in a less extreme pitcher's park. But I love the cash-for-trash strategy. Very Moneyball.

At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Will said...

I think we should try sign players who will help us win.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Yuda said...

There's one flaw in your strategy -- the Nats should be going for flyball pitchers. Neutral ones are OK, but extreme flyball pitchers will be helped the most by the park.


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