Troy Renck, in his Sunday wrap up, had an interesting article about our rotation for the upcoming year. He indicated that an ex-player suggested that a better way to evaluate our starting pitching is whether they could outlast their opponents. Interesting concept and of course without any numbers I was curious whether it made any sense. I looked at the last three years of data (2009 - 2011). I compared our starter's innings pitched to their opponents and determined if our pitcher out pitched (OP), tied (T), or under pitched (UP). Then for each of these three conditions I determined the team's overall record. See table below. For instance in 2009, Rox out pitched their opponents 86 times compared to 22 ties and 54 under pitch. In those 86 games that the Rox out pitched their opponents their record was 69 - 17.
And wow what a conclusion. I thought Troy (and his ex-player) was onto something but the numbers suggest a whole lot more. For the three years I evalutated, in 486 games the Rox starters outlasted their opponent pitchers 227 times, tied with them 59 times, and were out pitched 200 times. The startling part is the record. When our starters win the battle the team wins a whooping 3 out 4 times. That is a whole lot bigger than I would have imagined.
Since I had the data, I was curious what the win percentage was when a pitcher out duels his opponent by the number of outs difference. So for instance if our pitcher went 7 innings and his opponent went 5.2 innings that means our pitcher was a +4 and the graph below shows that pitching 4 more outs gives your team a winning percentage of around 0.800. Outlasting by about 9 outs or 3 innings guarantees a close to 90% chance of winning the game.