Not the Kind of M&M Boys You Crave
Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder
Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder

Posted Dec 26, 2006


Using the Runs Saved Against Average (RSAA) measurement to quantify how bad 2006 really was for St. Louis Cardinals pitchers Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder and to consider alternatives.

Upon Jason Marquis’ agreeing to terms with the free-spending Chicago Cubs on a three-year, $21 million contract recently, Complete Baseball Encyclopedia’s Lee Sinins starkly observed the following:

“Marquis had the 5th worst RSAA in Cardinals history in 2006”

RANK CARDINALS YEAR    RSAA   
1    Dan Griner               1913       -52  
2    Pol Perritt              1913       -44  
3    Bob Harmon               1910       -43  
4    Andy Benes               2001       -36  
5    Jason Marquis            2006       -35  
6    Jack Powell              1900       -33  
T7   Chappie McFarland        1905       -29  
T7   Mark Mulder              2006       -29  
T7   Jerry Reuss              1971       -29  
T10  Bob Harmon               1913       -28  
T10  Bob Purkey               1965       -28  

Now, I don’t know about you, but even though I watched just about every Cardinals game all season long and I knew the starters had a rough time, I didn’t realize how bad it really was.

In the recently-completed 2006 season, using RSAA as the measurement, Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder provided us two of the most extended stretches of bad pitching that had ever been seen in the modern era of St. Louis Cardinals baseball.

In other words, over the last 106 years the Cardinals franchise has been in place, Marquis and Mulder circa 2006 put in the books two of the worst eight individual seasons ever.

By the way, RSAA is Runs Saved Against Average, a measure of pitching effectiveness. It is the amount of runs that a pitcher saved versus what an average pitcher would have allowed and therefore, can produce a negative result. The exact formula: Runs allowed per nine innings minus league average runs allowed per nine innings multiplied by the number of innings pitched.

This is clearly the kind of subject at the right time of year when a bit of historical perspective is especially welcome. So, I fired up my new copy of the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia to dig a bit deeper.

Marquis’ -35 RSAA mark is tied for the 28th worst season put together by any National Leaguer since 1900, while Mulder’s -29 RSAA just placed him into the second 100 of the most negative NL single-season RSAA’s ever.

Here you can see Marquis’ career numbers. He came into last season with a career RSAA of plus 11, despite having positive season totals in just three of his six years in the bigs. 2006 changed all that.

YEAR

TEAM

AGE

W

L

IP

ERA

RSAA

2000

Braves

21

1

0

23.1

5.01

-1

2001

Braves

22

5

6

129.1

3.48

13

2002

Braves

23

8

9

114.1

5.04

-11

2003

Braves

24

0

0

40.2

5.53

-6

2004

Cardinals

25

15

7

201.1

3.71

10

2005

Cardinals

26

13

14

207

4.13

4

2006

Cardinals

27

14

16

194.1

6.02

-35

 

TOTALS

 

56

52

910.1

4.55

-26

 

LG AVERAGE

 

51

51

910.1

4.32

0

Mulder was recently quoted as saying that he hoped to return to St. Louis in 2007 because Cardinals fans hadn’t seen the “real” Mark Mulder. Now, I understand what he meant as much as I did when I first looked at Carlos Gomez’ tapes of the changes in Mulder’s throwing motion since his days in Oakland.

YEAR

TEAM

AGE

W

L

IP

ERA

RSAA

2000

A's

22

9

10

154

5.44

-13

2001

A's

23

21

8

229.1

3.45

22

2002

A's

24

19

7

207.1

3.47

28

2003

A's

25

15

9

186.2

3.13

23

2004

A's

26

17

8

225.2

4.43

6

2005

Cardinals

27

16

8

205

3.64

15

2006

Cardinals

28

6

7

93.1

7.14

-29

 

TOTALS

 

103

57

1301.1

4.11

52

 

LG AVERAGE

 

73

73

1301.1

4.53

0

As you can see, save his rookie season, Mulder has put up positive RSAA counts each season of his career – until 2006, that is. His 15 RSAA campaign in 2005 did not approach his stellar three-year run in Oakland from 2000 through 2003, yet it was serviceable.

Looking at this data should make it clear which of these two pitchers is more desirable. But, you knew that already, right?

Let’s extend this little look-see to include the other members of the 2006 Cardinals staff.

NEG 2006 CAREER
RANK RSAA RSAA YRS COMMENT
1 Jason Marquis -35 -26 7
2 Mark Mulder -29 52 7
T3 Sidney Ponson -7 -69 9 Neg 11 in less time in NY
T3 Jeff Weaver -7 -34 8 Neg 19 in Anaheim alone
T5 Anthony Reyes -6 -4 2
T5 Randy Flores -6 -7 4 Up and down a bit
7 Jorge Sosa -3 -11 5 One good year was all
T8 Ricardo Rincon -2 48 10 Very solid over 10 years
T8 Tyler Johnson -2 -2 1
10 Chris Narveson 0 0 1
11 Brian Falkenborg 1 -7 4
12 Josh Hancock 2 -1 5
13 Josh Kinney 3 3 1
14 Jason Isringhausen 5 49 11 No neg since 1999 (Mets)
15 Jeff Suppan 6 16 12 Neg 6 before coming to StL
T16 Brad Thompson 7 15 2 Two positive seasons
T16 Braden Looper 7 44 9 Never a negative RSAA
18 Adam Wainwright 11 9 2 First season was negative
19 Chris Carpenter 32 78 9 39 in 2005, 7 before that
Kip Wells -10 -4 8 Had nice 2002, 2003 years
Russ Springer 7 -43 14 4 negatives in last 6 years

While these numbers are perhaps somewhat reflective of the types of innings pitched given their different roles, it is still illustrative. Like me, I suspect your eyes will quickly fall to Adam Wainwright, who posted the second-best RSAA mark on the entire Cardinals team in 2006. Who wouldn’t want to see more of where that came from?

Moving over to the career totals on the right, Braden Looper and Ricardo Rincon stand out as long-term positives, while Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver look very average. Yet, I would have to see a lot more than this to convince me that Looper is a viable candidate for a rotation spot in 2007.

I also included the two recent signees, including Kip Wells, who needs to recapture his form - from four and five years previous. Hmmm.

Next are the season and career RSAA numbers for the major remaining non-Cardinals free-agent starters (Type A and B) still on the market, followed by the “top” non-tenders from two weeks ago. To say pickings are slim is a serious understatement.

2006 CAR.
FREE AGENT/TYPE RSAA RSAA YRS COMMENT
Barry Zito (A) 14 146 7 Never neg, just 34 in last 3 yrs.
Roger Clemens (A) 29 727 23 Best all-time, 59 over Grove
David Wells (B) 0 132 20 Very near the end
Chan Ho Park (B) -10 -26 13 Last positive season - 2000
Tomo Ohka (B) -3 48 8 Heyday was 2002-2003
Ramon Ortiz (B) -26 -47 8 Jason Marquis territory
NON TENDERS
Joel Pineiro -38 -23 7 Last three years - minus 75!
Brandon Duckworth -6 -63 6 Universally bad
Victor Zambrano -6 -3 6 Consistently average
Brandon Claussen -12 -21 4 Best year '05 (5) - only lefty
Chin-Hui Tsao -2 -7 3 Rotator cuff surgery - age 25
Jerome Williams -4 13 4 Average since good rookie '03

Looking at this list, one can better understand why Walt Jocketty isn't too excited about the free agent pitching options remaining.

Of course, using RSAA alone, or any other single measurement for that matter, cannot tell the complete story. Yet, I hope you found this slice of data interesting.

To do your own research with the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, go here to order your own copy. You can also subscribe to daily updates during the season if you are really serious. Warning: It can be addictive!



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

© 2006 www.thestlcardinals.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.


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