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Spotlight Shifts from All-Stars to Cy Young

W. Ross Clites
Your City Sports-Cleveland


Saint Louis, MISSOURI--This is my first installment since I moved west of the Mississippi on Wednesday. The Cardinals are sure glad I am here, while the Indians are sure glad I am gone.

It could also be that the absence of LeBron has renewed Cleveland's faith in baseball and the team--playing pressure-free and finally healthy--is responding to an AL Central spoiler role.

Any way you would like to spin it, since my U-Haul touched down in STL both teams have won 5 straight games and not lost once. Let me go on believing that I was the missing piece in the sports scene for the Redbirds. But if I am going to be that ego-centric, I must also accept blame for holding back the youthful bats of the Tribe. My apologies, Cleveland, and you're welcome, Saint Louis.

Now, on to this week's Pitcher Rating highlights. Recently, a friend introduced me to an interesting section of espn.com's baseball page. Two gentlemen that definitely belong on the Mount Rushmore of baseball stat geeks, Rob Neyer and Bill James, evidently came up with a formula for rating pitchers a few years back. They co-authored a book in 2004, aptly named "The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers." ESPN picked up the rights to one of the formulas found amongst the nearly 500 pages of text, and now markets it as a "Cy Young Predictor."

When I set out to create a uniform stat for judging starting pitchers to closers, this was all an unknown for me. I have Bill James' 2006 and 2007 Baseball Handbooks--both were gifts. I like to write, but ironically hate to read. Especially baseball nerd alert books. Very ironic, because that is all that I write about these days. It's like Edison deciding against the use of light bulbs in his own house.

I'd rather watch, play, coach, umpire baseball than read about it. For me, cataloging pitcher rating is just a byproduct of the spectator portion of the game. It is the same as keeping score when you are at the ballpark; it is exciting for me, but doesn't mean I want to read someone else's work.

Having said all that, this week's article (and all future posts about the 2010 baseball season) will set out to prove that my formula is even better than the powerful duo of Neyer and James. The two target some interesting stats, add some quirky bonuses, and weigh things in ways I wouldn't dream. Plus, they must think we are in England or Canada using "an" in front of "historical" on the cover of their book. Just because it is a correct option doesn't mean it needs to be used.

In their purest of forms, our invented stats do study the same data in a very similar fashion. We sought out to find who is the best on the mound in a given year, producing one quantifiable number. Neyer and James may have the original recipe, but I have reached a unique version of their classic stat from scratch. The newest ingredient is run support, RS. The idea is to level the playing field for people like Josh Johnson, whose team can't push across more than two runs when he is on the mound. He could easily have 15 wins if he had a bullpen or run support. Thus, his dominance is falling by the wayside. Pitcher Rating will recognize offensive shortcomings.

Enjoy my new take on something that is apparently old-hat. I will stick by my ingredients as having a better finish; Pitcher Rating doesn't have a bitter Keith Foulke aftertaste.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/features/cyyoung

Pitcher Rating July 21
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