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Guest Article: First Half Pitching Leaders

The following is a guest article by Paul McCord of Tomahawk, an Atlanta Braves blog. I found it interesting and trust you will, too. Without further ado:

Here are the first half pitching leaders for some really useful but relatively unknown statistics. They are separated by relievers and starters. That is, numbers for starters including only appearances as a starter, and numbers for relievers include only appearances as a reliever. So some pitchers could appear on both lists.

50 innings for starters (142 of 219) or 24 innings for relievers (167 of 361) are required to qualify for rate stats, except the Saves/Holds number requires 14 or more Save/Hold opportunities. Formulas I've derived on my own are marked by asterisks and explained briefly below.

Starting Pitchers:
2.56 Pedro Martinez
2.74 Jake Peavy
2.76 Roger Clemens
2.85 Dontrelle Willis
2.90 Chris Carpenter
2.97 Erik Bedard
3.00 Johan Santana
3.09 AJ Burnett
3.13 Josh Beckett
3.15 Andy Pettitte
3.18 Roy Halladay
3.18 Matt Morris
OPS Against
.509 Roger Clemens
.519 Pedro Martinez
.574 Erik Bedard
.585 Roy Halladay
.596 Rich Harden
.609 Chris Carpenter
.612 John Patterson
.618 Mike Hampton
.625 Mark Buehrle
.631 Roy Oswalt
.632 AJ Burnett
.634 Mark Prior
Contact Percentage*
.696 Johan Santana
.703 Pedro Martinez
.704 Jake Peavy
.723 Mark Prior
.732 Chris Carpenter
.738 Brett Myers
.738 Carlos Zambrano
.739 AJ Burnett
.747 Roger Clemens
.748 Oliver Perez
.749 Josh Beckett
.751 John Lackey
Adjusted WHIP**
0.860 Pedro Martinez
0.959 Roger Clemens
1.009 Roy Halladay
1.030 Jake Peavy
1.054 Johan Santana
1.068 Mark Prior
1.068 Mike Hampton
1.071 Erik Bedard
1.075 Chris Carpenter
1.106 Roy Oswalt
1.108 Matt Morris
1.110 Mark Buehrle
Raw Efficiency***
.788 Pedro Martinez
.783 Mike Hampton
.769 Roy Halladay
.767 Roger Clemens
.761 Chris Carpenter
.758 Erik Bedard
.758 Carlos Silva
.756 Jon Garland
.756 Mark Buehrle
.755 Jake Peavy
.751 Johan Santana
.748 Matt Morris
.084 Carlos Silva
.247 Brad Radke
.289 Mark Buehrle
.328 Paul Byrd
.339 David Wells
.347 Brad Penny
.352 Josh Towers
.364 Andy Pettitte
.374 Roy Halladay
.375 Javier Vazquez
.392 Matt Morris
.421 Dontrelle Willis
  Relief Pitchers:
2.05 Rudy Seanez
2.12 Aaron Heilman
2.33 Cliff Politte
2.37 Brad Lidge
2.45 Kyle Farnsworth
2.46 Mariano Rivera
2.50 BJ Ryan
2.56 Huston Street
2.62 Francisco Rodriguez
2.64 Arthur Rhodes
2.69 Justin Duchscherer
2.69 Juan Rincon
OPS Against
.421 Cliff Politte
.430 Mariano Rivera
.500 Matt Wise
.515 Todd Jones
.518 Francisco Rodriguez
.523 Roberto Hernandez
.531 Dan Wheeler
.535 Eddie Guardado
.535 Kyle Farnsworth
.537 Chad Cordero
.537 Al Reyes
.540 Jesse Crain
Contact Percentage*
.589 Rudy Seanez
.601 BJ Ryan
.601 Brad Lidge
.615 Francisco Rodriguez
.659 Kyle Farnsworth
.660 Joe Nathan
.662 Ugueth Urbina
.678 Francisco Cordero
.679 Scot Shields
.685 Brian Fuentes
.685 Juan Rincon
.689 Al Reyes
Adjusted WHIP**
0.764 Cliff Politte
0.828 David Riske
0.871 Eddie Guardado
0.897 Mariano Rivera
0.913 Dan Wheeler
0.923 Chris Hammond
0.935 Matt Wise
0.949 Francisco Rodriguez
0.990 Justin Speier
0.992 Billy Wagner
1.000 Al Reyes
1.000 Brendan Donnelly
Raw Efficiency***
.815 Cliff Politte
.784 Al Reyes
.779 David Riske
.777 Dan Wheeler
.774 Chris Hammond
.770 Billy Wagner
.770 Justin Speier
.769 Eddie Guardado
.765 Brendan Donnelly
.763 Huston Street
.761 Tanyon Sturtz
.761 Matt Miller
.275 Luis Ayala
.289 Travis Harper
.320 Chris Reitsma
.343 Paul Quantrill
.352 Scott Munter
.378 Todd Coffey
.380 Justin Speier
.400 Arthur Rhodes
.402 Tanyon Sturtze
.405 Eddie Guardado
.410 Justin Duchscherer
.425 Heath Bell
Save+Hold Percentage
1.00 Julian Tavarez
1.00 Scott Eyre
.963 Dustin Hermanson
.955 Eddie Guardado
.938 Kelly Wunsch
.929 Jason Isringhausen
.929 Ryan Dempster
.929 Brandon Lyon
.926 Trevor Hoffman
.912 Chad Cordero
.909 Billy Wagner
.909 Mariano Rivera
* Contact Percentage = (AB+SF+SH-K)/(AB+SF+SH)

** aWHIP = (H+BB+HBP)/IP

*** EFF = 3*TBF/IP

**** Wildness = 10*(BB+HBP+WP+BK)/(TBF+BR)

Contact percentage measures how often hitters make contact in plate appearances that do not result in walks, HBP, or catcher's interference -- that is, only when they hit or miss, not when they don't have to due to a walk. A lower percentage therefore is better for the pitcher.

Adjusted WHIP is exactly like regular WHIP, except I include HBP to make the number slightly more meaningful. Multiply by nine, and this number equals baserunners allowed per nine innings.

Raw Effectiveness measures how quickly a pitcher gets through each inning. The closer to 1.000, the closer to perfection. If a pitcher achieves perfection, then he faces exactly three batters per inning. This is possible with double plays to erase hits and walks, so in this case the tendency to get baserunners as well as batters out helps the pitcher. This also means adjustments need to be made to normalize the numbers for different defensive arrangements and ballpark dimensions (as with most stats).

The Wildness formula adds baserunners and total batters faced together, and walks, HBP, wild pitches, and balks together. This is not sabermetrically correct by any means, but the result is a very accurate list of the pitchers with the best control.

The reasoning behind the Save+Hold Percentage is also simple: Holds and Saves are defined exactly the same, with one distinction: a pitcher leaves a game in progress with the lead intact to earn the Hold, or a pitcher ends the game with the lead intact to earn the Save. Therefore, if you add Holds to Save Opportunities, you get a larger of sum of both Hold and Save Opportunities. Then consider either a Hold or a Save as success, and calculate the percentage. The resulting leaderboard includes the games best closers and middle relievers!

Some of these stats make better sense than others. I'll let you be the judge. Enjoy or ignore them as you will!