Whatcha talkin' 'bout, Willis?
Now the world don't move to the beat of just one drum
--Lyrics by Alan Thicke, Gloria Loring, and Al Burton
The selection of Dontrelle Willis over Brandon Webb as the National League Rookie of the Year on Monday is more comical than the popular show of the late 1970s and 1980s starring Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. Even Mr. Drummond is scratching his head over this one.
G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO
Personally, I tend to favor pitchers who throw more innings with fewer hits, earned runs, and home runs allowed while also striking out more batters. Unless one is a control freak, the raw stats make a strong case for Webb over Willis.
Maybe I'm missing something in the rate stats.
ERA WHIP K/9 K/BB BAA OBP SLG OPS
Nope, it's not that. Webb beats Willis across the board. Lower numbers when it matters. Higher numbers when it matters. Eight-for-eight.
So what could it be?
Ahh, the ol' won-loss category. Geez, I nearly forgot. Even though Webb beat Willis up and down and around in every stat in which the pitchers have some say in the matter, Willis had more wins and fewer losses than his rookie counterpart.
I guess voters didn't take into account the fact that Florida's offense scored 34 more runs than Arizona's or that the team won seven more games overall. Perhaps they think Willis was the one responsible for the difference in these two teams win totals rather than the other way around.
In any event, it is obvious that the voters didn't pay attention to the fact that Florida's Pro Player Stadium favors pitchers and Arizona's Bank One Ballpark favors hitters. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Pro Player Stadium is rated 94 for pitching (meaning the park helped pitchers by 6%) while Bank One Ballpark is rated 109 (meaning the park hurt pitchers by 9%). In fact, Webb's adjusted ERA is 165 (or 65% better than the league) and Willis' is 122 (22% better).
Alternatively, it might be enlightening to take a look at Lee Sinins' favorite stat for pitchers -- Runs Saved Above Average or RSAA. Webb ranked fifth in the N.L. with 39 while Willis finished tied for 34th with 12. In other words, Webb saved 27 more runs above the average pitcher than Willis (or approximately one per game).
Another way to evaluate Webb vs. Willis on a more level playing field is to compare their performances on the road.
G GS IP H R ER HR BB SO BAA ERA
C'mon now...2.27 vs. 3.63? Not only should Webb have won the ROY Award, but it should have been a unanimous decision--at least with respect to these two players. A vote on behalf of Scott Podsednik is an entirely different matter, but there is no way one can justify voting for Dontrelle Willis over Brandon Webb.
Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, I guess.