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February 22, 2006

Adam Eaton Worries Me

Adam Eaton interviewed for The Ticket in Dallas and expressed his enjoyment at throwing in a pitcher-friendly park such as Petco or now-departed Qualcomm. He noted that pitching in Arlington would require adjustments, primarily in outlook. Focusing on winning, not necessarily hits and runs allowed, would be key. He then said:

Everybody looks at everything else besides the end result, and that’s one thing I’ve kind of been able to do in the past (focusing on wins), for an offense that really didn’t put a whole bunch of runs up for me in the past few years in San Diego… I have a real hard time figuring how or what I’m going to do with run support [in Texas]. I haven’t had that luxury in a long time… [Eight runs] is like a nice two-week span for me at times. There was a time that I would be told, how hard is it to throw a shutout and hit a home run. That was true, you actually had to do that to get a “W” the past few years.

I have several issues with these statements.

1. San Diego does not have a bad offense.

Eaton prefers a pitcher-friendly environment, but he doesn’t acknowledge that it also affects the hitters on his own team. Qualcomm/Petco offers one of the toughest environments for hitters in the Major League. You might have heard that San Diego ranked 27th in runs scored last year, but that means nothing without considering the context of league and park. Supplying that context reveals San Diego has offered an above-average offense for three years running (all numbers per-game):

NL Runs Scored
San Diego Park Factor
Adjusted League-Avg. Runs Scored
San Diego Runs Scored
RS+ *
2003 4.61 0.89
4.19 102
2004 4.64 0.89
4.74 115
2005 4.45 0.90
4.22 105

* Index of runs scored relative to league and park. 100 = average, higher is better.

2. San Diego’s offense often gave Eaton better support than to his rotation mates.

San Diego Runs Scored
Adam Eaton's Run Support
Extra Support For Eaton
RS+ for Eaton

Averages can provide a skewed picture; if San Diego scores eighteen runs in one of his starts but none in two others, they’re not really helping him much. Looking at game data reveals that San Diego was never shut out with Eaton on the mound during 2003-2005. San Diego scored only one or two runs in about a third of his starts (12% one run, 21% two runs) but they also scored six or more runs in 35% of his starts.

On the whole, the evidence suggests Eaton received better-than-average run support during 2003-2005.

3. Eaton has a better won-loss record than he’s deserved.

Eaton has a record of 31-31 during the last three years despite RA+s of 95, 85, and 86. He’s a below-average pitcher with an average record. We should all be so fortunate.

Posted by Lucas at February 22, 2006 01:11 PM