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Ranking the AL rotations

Boston's newcomers will outpitch N.Y.'s hired guns

Posted: Thursday February 10, 2005 1:47PM; Updated: Friday February 11, 2005 9:54AM
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You stand a better chance of guessing when Ben Affleck will make a good movie again than having any luck with pitcher projections.

Pitchers get hurt (Roy Halladay). They are unlucky (Derek Lowe). They lose their stuff (Esteban Loaiza) or, even worse, their confidence (Rick Ankiel). So in what I admit is a mostly subjective manner, here are the American League rotations ranked top to bottom. (National League to come Monday.)

But first, a couple of notes on the statistics used:

• Wins and losses aren't mentioned because they are overrated statistics that depend too much on run support, defense and luck. Just the basics: innings pitched, ERA, walks and strikeouts. Also, to try to get more of a measure of a pitcher's true worth, I've included dERA, where the "d" is short for DIPS -- Defense Independent Pitching Statistics. DIPS determines what a pitcher's ERA would be with a neutral -- not good or bad -- defense playing behind him.

• Park Indexes are taken from the latest edition of the Bill James Handbook. A Park Index of 100 is the average. For example, a home run index of 110 means the park yielded 10 percent more home runs than the league average; an index of 90 means it yielded 10 percent fewer home runs.

• Age is for June 30, 2005.

1. Boston Red Sox
Pitcher Age 2004
1. Curt Schilling 38 226.2 3.26 3.27 35 203
2. David Wells 42 195.2 3.73 4.16 20 101
3. Matt Clement 30 181 3.68 3.95 77 190
4. Bronson Arroyo 28 178.2 4.03 3.64 47 142
5. Wade Miller 28 88.2 3.35 4.53 44 74

Three-year Fenway Park Indexes: Runs 106; HR 90
2004 Runs Allowed: 768, fourth in AL
Outlook: Does everything always have to come down to Red Sox vs. Yankees? On paper, the best rotation probably belongs to the Yankees. But in recent years the Boston front office has done an incredible job of finding hitters who thrive at Fenway Park. I'm guessing they have done the same with free-agent pitchers Clement, Wells and Miller. With the newly acquired Edgar Renteria at shortstop, defense shouldn't be as much of a problem this season.

2. New York Yankees
Pitcher Age 2004
1. Randy Johnson 41 245.2 2.60 2.42 44 290
2. Mike Mussina 36 164.2 4.59 3.97 40 132
3. Carl Pavano 29 222.1 3.00 3.60 49 139
4. Jaret Wright 29 186.1 3.28 3.39 70 159
5. Kevin Brown 40 132 4.09 4.09 35 83

Three-year Yankee Stadium Indexes: Runs 93; HR 103
2004 Runs Allowed: 808, sixth in AL
Outlook: Not that the Big Unit needs any help, but Yankee Stadium is more of a pitcher's park than Arizona's Bank One Ballpark -- the BOB's runs index for the past three years is 118. If healthy, Johnson will dominate, and his prodigious strikeout totals will ease the strain on the Yankees' subpar defense. But what about the rest of the crew? Mussina showed signs of aging last year. The wheels are coming off of Brown. Pavano and Wright are decent enough but making the transition to pinstripes isn't easy.