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BASERUNNERS ALLOWED ARE KEY TO 2007 HOPES

[December 9th] -- One of my favorite statistics is baserunners allowed per 9 innings -- simply, the more runners a pitcher allows to reach base, the more runs he's apt to allow during the game (baserunners = hits + walks). Some pitchers do a good job of keeping those runners from scoring (Livan Hernandez for instance). That said, why tempt fate? Keep the opposition off the base paths and you stand a good chance of winning the game.

Take a look at how the 2006 Nationals' did at keeping runners off the bases. I was surprised that Chris Booker led the team with only 7.3 base-runners per 9 innings. It's interesting that four of the top five (Booker, Micah Bowie, Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch) were relievers. I guess that makes sense, though, since a reliever's top priority is to keep runners off of the basepaths at all costs.

When it comes to base-runners allowed, the "magic number" seems to be ten. Pitchers who allow ten or less are typically the league's best pitchers. Those giving up 11-12 base-runners per 9 are still solid pitchers, but they are more susceptible to having a bad game. Give up more than 12 base-runners and you're going to have difficulty winning on a consistent basis in the major leagues.

One of the problems with last year's rotation was the number of base-runners allowed. In 2005, the starters allowed 11.5 runners per 9 and the team won 81 games. Last year, the starters allowed 13.6 baserunners per nine innings, and the team lost ten more games.

The pitchers vying for berths in the starting rotation next spring - Jon Rauch, Mike O'Connor, Beltran Perez and Shawn Hill, averaged a combined 12.2 base-runners per 9 last year, a number that certainly gives the Nationals an opportunity to at least compete every time they take the field. If the starting staff can revert to it's form of two seasons ago, the Nationals just might have a chance in 2007.

It's a long shot, that's for sure. But there's something special about long shots. No one gets upset when they don't go in, but when they do .... man, that's special.

Ohka? We know that Tomo Ohka has been offered a contract, and we know that his agent says it's below "market value." It's been difficult to place a "value" on Tomo Ohka in today's tipsy-turvy market. When pitchers like Ted Lilly and Gil Meche earn $11 million a year, it's hard to say what a guy like Ohka is worth. I thought it would take $5 million to get him while rotoworld.com thinks $4 million will do the trick. Anything above $5 million makes him too pricey for the Nationals. It's not that they couldn't afford him at that price, rather, I just don't want him at that price.


Comments:
Doesn't this statistic overtate the effectiveness of pitchers who give up lots of gopher balls? The Chief and Rausch are high on your list but when they give up a hit it is usually a very damaging homerun.
 
I think every stat has a "hole" in it, and Cordero, Rauch, etc. might look a bit better than their reality.

I look for stats to give a "feeling," an "imression" as to circumstances. There are always exceptions. Generally speaking, I think this stat is a quality indicator of a pitcher's ability.
 
Starters and situational pitchers should not be bunched together. I would expect better numbers on a whole from a situational pitcher because the manager is able to select when and against which particular batter he inserts the relief pitcher into the game. I would think the number is more relevent for comparing starters, more innigs and greater variance of types of batters face.
 
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