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WSI News - WSI Spotlight


Todd Ritchie: By the Numbers

Todd Ritchie is the newest member of the Chicago White Sox, but should we be happy about this?  The Sox gave up Kip Wells, Sean Lowe and Josh Fogg to pry Ritchie away from the Pittsburgh Pirates and to me this looks more like another Kenny the Klown grand scroo-up than a steal for Kenny Williams

 Let's look at this deal starting with the two major league starting pitchers involved, Wells and Ritchie.  They are about the same size 6'3" aroudn 200 pounds, both throw pretty hard but differ in styles.  Kip works up in the zone with his fastball and has a curve for an outpitch.  Ritchie is a sinker/slider type who works low in the zone and gets a lot of groundball outs.  Now to the performance of these two guys:

 

Cat.    Kipper    Ritchie

Year   2001       2001

Rec.    10-11       11-15

IP       133.3      207.3

H        145          211

BB       61            52

K        99           124

HR      14            23

ERA   4.79         4.47

ERA+  96           98

Age     24            29

 

Looks like Ritchie did damn near everything better than Wells last year.  He allowed fewer baserunners, was less likely to be taken deep and had a lower ERA.  But look at the last two items in bold, I think they put the two performances in context.  ERA+ is simply ERA adjusted against league average and for park effects, 100 is a league average ERA, over 100 is good, under 100 is bad.   Randy Johnson had the best ERA+ in the majors last year at 184 (Pedro would have been best but he didn't qualify).  I don't think I have to explain age. 

ERA+ tells us even though Ritchie's ERA looks significantly better, in context it's not.  Ritchie benefits from facing National League pitchers regularly and playing in a park that favors pitchers slightly.  Comiskey Park on the other hand favors hitters slightly.  So Ritchie's results from last season weren't much better than Kip's and Kip is five years younger. 

 Making it even worse is Ritchie's home/road split.  Ritchie had a 3.47 ERA at home in PNC Park but a 5.58 ERA in other NL stadiums.  This isn't a one year fluke, last year Ritchie's ERA in Three Rivers Stadium, another pitchers park, was over a run better than his ERA on the road.  What's going to happen to Ritchie in the more hitter friendly Comiskey park?  Since he is a groundball pitcher the effect could be minimal since Comiskey favors power hitters but those road ERAs of 5.58 in 2001 and 5.47 in 2000 are scary.

 Kip also has a much higher strikeout rate than Ritchie, strikeout rates are a good indicator of how much a pitcher has left.  Power pitchers tend to have longer careers than finesse pitchers, look at the guys who have had really long careers, Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, they threw hard.  The exception is knuckleballers.  Kip is younger, gets more Ks and about the same results.  Based on this, I'd rather have Kip Wells on my team than Todd Ritchie. 

 This isn't even getting to the fact that we also gave up Sean Lowe and Josh Fogg.  I think the significance of losing those two is very debatable.  Lowe has been a pretty valuable pitcher to the White Sox in the last three years but he's never really stepped into a pivotal role and performed well for a long period of time.  He's been a middle reliever that doesn't pitch in the late innings and a fill-in starter.  He's a two pitch pitcher so I doubt he'll be a longterm success in the rotation and in the pen he's the guy who comes in for a starter who gets knocked out early rather than a dominant late inning reliever.  Nevertheless including Lowe in this deal is a waste of resources.  Same goes for Fogg, a mid-level pitching prospect.

 I think Kenny Williams screwed up.  Again.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Kip Wells pitch as good or better than Todd Ritchie next year when he's pitching for the Pirates.  Pittsburgh GM David Littlefield has only been on the job a few months and he's already fleecing our guy.  Tell me one more time why Kenny is running the show and Dan Evans is in Los Angeles?

 


Editor's Note:  Andrew Ritchie is known by WSI's message board crowd  as Kermit thee Frog and writes about the White Sox based on statistical analysis.  Andrew like statistics because it helps cut through the bias when talking baseball.  Andrew pledges to be as objective as possible, but hey--nobody is perfect! 

 

Have a Thought about
Todd Ritchie?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!

or you can email Andrew at kermittheefrog@ameritech.net

 



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