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Who Is Your National League All Star Starter?

Posted by Matt on July 8, 2008

Editor’s Note: Discuss this article NOW over at ACC vs. SEC! – Who Is Your National League All Star Starter?

The start of the calendar week on Sunday marked the release of the 2008 MLB All Star game rosters and defensive starters. What was not announced, however, was the starting pitchers for each team — a decision to be made by the teams’ respective managers — and when it comes to the National League the decision is going to be tough.

Tim Lincecum of the Giants and the Reds’ Edinson Volquez are currently the clear-cut leaders to land the starting job with some distance between them and the rest of a pack that includes early favorite Brandon Webb, who has faltered as of late along with his Diamondbacks.

Volquez will presumably start one more game for the Reds before the All Star break while Lincecum will have two starts beginning with tonight’s game on the road against the New York Metropolitans, giving each pitcher 19 starts heading in to the Mid-Summer Classic and one last chance to state their case.

So who will it be, Tim Lincecum or Edinson Volquez?

Wins: Volquez (11)/Lincecum (10)

The Reds’ ace has one more win than does Lincecum but he also has one more start. If Volquez can win his next start with Lincecum splitting his next two, it is possible that the two pitchers head in to the All Star game with nearly identical records.

  • Advantage: Volquez

Losses: Lincecum (1)/Volquez (3)

Lincecum has two fewer losses in one less start while the San Francisco Giants have scored 17 fewer runs than the Reds on the season. It should be noted that both pitchers’ teams went 2-3 for the games Edinson and Tim pitched to no decisions.

  • Advantage: Lincecum

ERA: Volquez (2.36)/Lincecum (2.49)

Volquez has given up three fewer earned runs (29 to 32) in one more start and both pitchers have given up a total of 36 runs on the season, earned and otherwise.

  • Advantage: Volquez

WHIP: Lincecum (1.24)/Volquez (1.25)

Walks and hits per inning pitch is somewhat of pitching’s equivalent to Moneyball’s on-base percentage for hitters and is yet another remarkably close statistical category for these two pitchers. Though the numerical advantage may go to Lincecum, the numbers say Volquez is only giving up 1 more hit OR walk per 100 at bats. Astonishingly close.

  • Advantage: Lincecum

Strikeouts: Lincecum (122)/Volquez (116)

Lincecum obviously has more strikeouts in one less start than Edinson, although Volquez was shaping up to be the early favorite for the strikeout crown at the end of the season. The difference calculates out to nearly a full strikeout more per start for Lincecum.

  • Advantage: Lincecum

Division Strength (Combined Winning % Of Division): Volquez (.517)/Lincecum (.447)

The preseason lemon in the National League has quickly become the crown jewel on the backs of the Chicago Cubs, Saint Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers, three teams that also happen to have the top three records in the National League. The winning percentages were calculated taking in to account total wins and losses for each team in their respective divisions without strictly looking at total wins considering the West has one fewer team — skewing total wins perpetually in favor of the Central Division.

  • Advantage: Volquez

Overall: Volquez (3 advantages)/Lincecum (3 advantages)

Statistics aside, I believe Edinson may get the start by default considering Lincecum will start twice before the All Star game, with his second coming just a couple of days before the Mid-Summer Classic; however, statistically speaking the race to become the National League starter for the 2008 All Star game is still a dead heat.

Volquez’s ERA and WHIP is better overall when you consider he’s had to play an additional game but that fact also makes Lincecum’s wins and strikeouts stand out. Although Volquez clearly plays in a tougher division, not all of his starts came against divisional opponents and his team has also been privy to more run support than has Lincecum’s this season.

The advantages thus far are tied at three and it is virtually a statistical tie between the pitchers; however, to avoid taking the easy way out and calling it a tie overall or to avoid taking a wait-and-see approach I will man up and offer my opinion:

  • Advantage: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds — YOUR National League All Star starting pitcher

…and yes, I am a homer.

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