For those of you who have been following my combimetrics articles, it is quite obvious that Magnum Start Value (MSV) has a purpose. Which is to eliminate the notion that bullpens have become more important than starters. Many around the sport believe baseball is trending in this direction, however, it simply is not true. How false is this premise? Let’s take a look and find out.
When I initially wrote the Royal Lie pieces, they stated that both of Kansas City’s World Series clubs had significantly better starting staffs than most realized. Which is true, however, there was another key to their success as well- the starting nine. Just take a look at them. They had elite speed and range, and while the 2014 team did commit their fair share of errors (104- 10th in the American League) it was due to the fact that defenders such as Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar got to more balls than the rest, not because they had stone hands. And by the way, the Royals had the best running game in baseball that season (153- 1st in MLB).
Speaking of the starting nine theory, there are two teams this season that embody that more than any other. As of now both of them hold the top Wild Card spot in each league (Yankees and Brewers) and have good bullpens. One difference between these two clubs and Kansas City is their rotations, as their starters are not as good as the 2014-15 Royal staffs. However, thanks to great offenses both New York and Milwaukee can qualify for October baseball and potentially advance in it, but much of that will depend on their starters production.
I want to talk about the stat that was mentioned regarding Aaron Judge’s presence in the Yankees lineup a few days ago. It was divulged in my previous article and states that the New York is 32 games over .500 with him however just two without Judge. That is an enormous difference, and one thing you have to have to keep in mind are the losses of shortstop Didi Gregorius and catcher Gary Sanchez for large chunks of his time of the disabled list. Those two are keys to the Yankees lineup as well, and when you think of how much their loss hurts New York’s lineup, with there is no way to dominate opponents when Lynn, Severino, Sabathia, Tanaka, and Happ threw two Magnum Starts in August combined.
Moving on to the Brewers, this a club with literally two good starting pitchers, or three if you consider Gio Gonzalez a good starter (9-11, 4.28 ERA). The pair of quality starts are Jhoulys Chacin and Chase Anderson, however, neither are anywhere neither elite hurlers. If you were to evaluate them, a fair spot in the rotation both would be a #3 starter, or maybe a below average #2 on a really good day. The former has tossed three Magnum Starts while the latter hurled only two, which isn’t worth calculating the Yearly Magnum Percentage (YMP) for either.
Now if you want to look at Milwaukee’s offense, it has a litany of excellent bats. Outfielders Christian Yellich and Lorenzo Cain are having outstanding seasons, with the latter currently batting .308 and nearing 30 stolen bases (28 at the moment). Yellich may end up winning the National League MVP, and when you look at his 31 home runs, 93 RBI’s, and 6.0 WAR he is among the best in the game among outfielders. Brewer first baseman Jesus Aguilar is also swinging the bat well and could end up with 110+ RBI (sitting on 33 HR and 104 RBI) meaning the Brewers may well advance well into the postseason if they get quality starting pitching.
I want to make it clear that these teams are more along the lines of those that depend on bullpens and their staring nines to win. When you look at Milwaukee’s pen, names such as Joakim Soria, Corey Knebel, and Jeremy Jeffress come to mind. As for the Yankees, an All-Star back end of the pen locks down games when Zach Britton, Dellin Betances, David Robertson, and Aroldis Chapman close the door. Given the Brewers only possess a solid bullpen unlike the dominant one that New York does, they can still win with their excellent offense as long as it scores runs.
All in all, Major League Baseball’s desire to shorten starting pitchers outings has no merit whatsoever. Teams do not win because of “dominant bullpens”, it simply is not happening. The Aaron Judge stat is poignant enough to break this theory in itself, as is the Detroit Tigers MSV piece several weeks back. If you actually believe shut down closers are winning games, ask yourself something. Are they being brought in close the door when teams are losing? If the are doing so a lot, they probably aren’t on a very good team. So build up the other facets first, then worry about him last. Or expect to finish there.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.