A. Cavatica

01-17-2004, 12:09 AM

We've all heard the old saw about not trading a position player for a starter who plays every fifth day. It's complete, utter bull****.

The outcome of a game depends on a series of individual pitcher/hitter confrontations. Each of these confrontations involves exactly one pitcher and one hitter.

Last year, Juan Pierre led the majors with 747 plate appearances. Vernon Wells was second with 735.

Roy Halladay piched to 1071 batters. Colon (984) and Buehrle (978) were second and third.

In other words, the steadiest "regular" faced a pitcher 747 times. But the busiest "every fifth day" starter was involved in 43% more at-bats. Consequently a starter has a *much* greater impact on his team's success than a position player.

Think about it. Regulars bat 4 or 5 times per game. Starters throw to 25, 30, 35 batters.

Of course, defense evens out the imbalance a little: moreso for a catcher, shortstop, or second baseman than for a corner outfielder, first baseman, or DH. You could make a credible case that A-Rod is as valuable as a (healthy) Pedro Martinez. You could never make that case about Manny Ramirez.

The outcome of a game depends on a series of individual pitcher/hitter confrontations. Each of these confrontations involves exactly one pitcher and one hitter.

Last year, Juan Pierre led the majors with 747 plate appearances. Vernon Wells was second with 735.

Roy Halladay piched to 1071 batters. Colon (984) and Buehrle (978) were second and third.

In other words, the steadiest "regular" faced a pitcher 747 times. But the busiest "every fifth day" starter was involved in 43% more at-bats. Consequently a starter has a *much* greater impact on his team's success than a position player.

Think about it. Regulars bat 4 or 5 times per game. Starters throw to 25, 30, 35 batters.

Of course, defense evens out the imbalance a little: moreso for a catcher, shortstop, or second baseman than for a corner outfielder, first baseman, or DH. You could make a credible case that A-Rod is as valuable as a (healthy) Pedro Martinez. You could never make that case about Manny Ramirez.