Commentary

BP: New stat reveals sleepers, busts

Some 2009 pitcher performances were too good (or bad) to be true

Updated: February 24, 2010, 12:31 PM ET
By Eric Seidman | Baseball Prospectus
Getty ImagesSorry, Braves fans: Jair Jurrjens isn't as good as his 2009 ERA suggests.

Few Phillies fans will forget the date: Sept. 27, 2008, when the eventual World Series champions clinched their second consecutive National League crown in quite remarkable fashion.

Leading the Nationals 4-3 in the top of the ninth inning, Brad Lidge had found himself in another one of his trademark Pepto-Bismol save opportunities. The bases were loaded with only one out as the dangerous Ryan Zimmerman stepped into the batter's box. Zimmerman then smoked a 1-1 pitch from Lidge up the middle. Jimmy Rollins dove to his left and flipped to Chase Utley, who fired to Ryan Howard to complete the 6-4-3 double play, ending the game, and sending the Phillies to the playoffs.

Rollins is one of the best defenders at his position and was able to snag a hard-hit ball that most other shortstops would fail to reach. For instance, if Phillies backup Eric Bruntlett were manning the position, the odds were great that Zimmerman's scorched grounder reaches the outfield, plating two runs and putting the Nationals in the position to steal a victory.

Aside from the obvious playoff implications in the above scenario, Lidge's ERA increases quite a bit with Bruntlett captaining the infield instead of Rollins. It makes little sense to penalize Lidge for the hypothetical runs that would have scored with Bruntlett up the middle when they would have been prevented had a better defender been playing the field. This is essentially the precursor for DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics), a field of study that gauges pitchers based on the events they can control, rather than the ability of those around them.