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Thursday, October 03, 2019

The One Stat That Tells You Everything You Need To Know About The 2019 Angels' Rotation

Matt Welch recently tweeted something about the 2019 Angels that grabbed my attention in a sad and disturbing way:

This got me updating my Lahman database for the first time this year. (Note to Sean: why hasn't there been a MySQL/MariaDB-compatible schema available for two years now?) After a good bit of SQL detective work, it turns out there are only four team innings-pitched leaders with less than the measely 102.1 Mr. Cahill managed:

1872Washington Olympics*Asa Brainard79.0
1873Baltimore Marylands*Ed Stratton27.0
1884St. Paul White CapsJim Brown36.0
1891Milwaukee BrewersGeorgeDavies102.0

All of them are 19th century teams, and two (those denoted with an asterisk [*]) were National Association teams. In other words, we are talking about some of the sketchiest professional teams ever assembled in the earliest days of the sport. For context, here's a graph of lowest team innings pitched leaders throughout history:

Unsurprisingly, the number settles down right about at the turn of the 20th century, and has drifted down ever since. While the current trend certainly projects that eventually, Trevor Cahill won't be such an outlier, for now, he is more than 40 innings off last year's low-high champion, Toronto's Marco Estrada (143.2 IP). In the last decade, his nearest competition is Jeff Francis on the 2012 Rockies, whose 113 IP was the lowest in the 21st century, and lower than any 20th century IP team leader.

This is obviously awful; as Matt goes on to observe, "The Angels gave a mind-numbing 492 innings to pitchers who had a season ERA+ of under 80." The Halos now have a losing record for four consecutive years for the first time since they lost seven straight years from 1971 to 1977. They have no depth, poor roster construction, and absolutely no idea how to get out of this pit.



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