Yes, Again: The (Last-Minute) Case For Tim Lincecum

There is a statistically-inclined rant after the jump that I think you all need to hear.

Health is a skill. It’s why Barry Zito is as valuable as Rich Harden. It’s why Dan Haren is more valuable than, uh, *thinks*… Brandon Webb! (Haren is also a better pitcher than Webb, but that’s not totally the point.) Are there exceptions? Yeah, sure. Like Joe Mauer, who’s very close to being the most valuable position player in the AL even with that time he missed because of his injury (his defense might put him ahead of Zobrist, but I haven’t looked at the BtB end-of-year catcher fielding stuff yet). But basically, even if one’d try to make the argument that if Mauer can do it, Carpenter can, you still have to look at the fact that Lincecum averaged 2.2 RAR a start to Carpenter’s 1.8. Even if Carpenter had made 32 starts this season at that level of production, he still comes in 13.5 runs behind Lincecum, which is a little more than one win. At their current per-start RAR, you’d have to have Lincecum make only 23 starts to get his total RAR as low as Carpenter’s. Carpenter would have had to make 40 starts to match what Lincecum did in 32.

Wainwright averaged 1.5 RAR per start, which is nice for him I guess, but his total still put him… here, I’ll just give you the top NL RAR from Fangraphs:

  1. Tim Lincecum, 71.1
  2. Javier Vazquez, 58.7
  3. Dan Haren, 55.5
  4. Adam Wainwright, 52.3
  5. Ubaldo Jimenez, 51.8
  6. Chris Carpenter, 50.2
  7. Josh Johnson, 50.1

And because RAR isn’t the only good indicator of performance (le gasp!), here are the top few in K/BB:

  1. Dan Haren, 5.87
  2. Javier Vazquez, 5.41
  3. Ricky Nolasco, 4.43
  4. Ted Lilly, 4.19
  5. Cole Hamels, 3.91
  6. Joel Piniero, 3.89
  7. Tim Lincecum, 3.84
  8. Chris Carpenter, 3.79

Wainwright (3.21) is 12th on the list. Oh, and here’s the geometric means of the K/9, BB/9, and K/BB ranking out of qualified starters (45 is the best, 1 is the worst) for the 5 pitchers I’m taking seriously at this point:

  1. Javier Vazquez, 278.6
  2. Dan Haren, 267.0
  3. Tim Lincecum, 206.8
  4. Adam Wainwright, 175.0
  5. Chris Carpenter, 169.2

So basically the RAR is Tim Lincecum and then a whole bunch of other guys, and the K and BB stuff still puts Wainwright and Carpenter at the bottom of who we’re looking at voting for. My ballot would be Lincecum-Vazquez-Haren (and if there were 4 spots then Wainwright would make it on there), and if I could give a 2.5 spot to both of them at the same time, I would.

People, do whatever you want with spots 2 and 3, as long as Lincecum’s first.

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