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A Few More Thoughts on the Phillies’ 2011 Rotation

December 14, 2010

As if there weren’t enough articles written today about Cliff Lee’s decision to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, ESPN’s Jayson Stark has another but it’s one that is certainly a must read. The initial few paragraphs are actually the best description I’ve seen regarding what the team’s rotation looks like on paper going into next season.

“The ace is a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a three-time 20 game winner, and a man who just finished leading the National League in wins, shutouts, and win probability added. That would be Roy Halladay.

His right handed partner in crime has won 20 games twice himself, has the 5th best winning percentage of any right handed pitcher in the live-ball era and just led the NL in WHIP. That would be Roy Oswalt.

They’re joined on the left side by a fellow who has won a World Series MVP trophy and an NL Championship Series MVP trophy, and just had the best ERA after July 1 of any left handed starter in baseball. That would be Cole Hamels.

And then there is the man who rocked the baseball universe this week. He’s another former Cy Young Award winner, one of three pitchers in history to win his first seven postseason decisions and the man who just led all starting pitchers in WAR. That would be Cliff Lee.

Reading through such a description it is clear why some are already anointing the Phillies as the favorites in the National League. It is one highly impressive foursome of pitchers all on the same roster. Most teams would like to have just one pitcher with those credentials, let alone multiple.

Stark’s post does continue with a number of statistical notes about the foursome and their place in baseball history. Some of the notables ones:

  • Of the top eight active pitchers in career winning percentage, the Phillies can now trot out three of them: Halladay (1st), Oswalt (5th), and Lee (8th).
  • Halladay, Oswalt, and Lee all have winning percentages above .620. This makes the Phillies the first NL team since the 1957 Dodgers to enter a season with three pitchers with winning percentages that high over a minimum of 100 career decisions.
  • Of the top ten active pitchers in strikeout-to-walk ratio, the Phillies now employ three of them: Oswalt (5th), Halladay (7th), and Lee (10th). No other team has more than one. If the innings threshold were lowered to 900, Hamels would rank above them all.

The post by Stark does have a few more statistical nuggets worth taking a look at, as well as some brief discussion of how the foursome would compare to some of the greatest in baseball history (1971 Orioles, four pitchers won 20+ games; 1989 Mets; 1993 Braves). It’s definitely worth the read.

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