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# High Cheese

A look at the Kendrick situation, including his arbitration status

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# A look at the Kendrick situation, including his arbitration status

POSTED: Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 4:21 PM

(Updated below)

Take a set of numbers. Add them together to determine their sum. Then, divide that sum by the number of digits in the set. Voila. You just learned how to calculate an average. High schoolers can do it. Middle schoolers can do it. Even sports writers and New Yorkers can do it, provided they have enough fingers and toes.

But while an average may be simple and practical, it doesn't tell you a heck of a lot. If Jane has 50 bacon double cheeseburgers and 10 days until her vegan parents return home from vacation and she wants to eat an equal amount of bacon double cheeseburgers each day, then her elementary school math will work just fine. But if Jane's parents come home from vacation and learn that Jane has eaten 50 bacon double cheeseburgers in the 10 days they were gone, knowing that she ate an average of five per day really doesn't do much good, since she might have eaten all of them on the first day, making her a practicing vegan for the previous nine.

It's probably not a very good analogy, but I'm hungry, so it is the first one that popped into my mind.

Regardless, there are some inherent flaws when it comes to using averages for anything more than a cursory understanding of a situation at hand. This is especially true when it comes to sports. A guy can go 3-for-3 with three home runs one game, and then finish out the week 6-for-24 with no home runs, and you can say that he's averaging a home run every nine at-bats, or that he's been homerless in his last 24. Depends on how you feel about the guy (And, at times, what media outlet you work for).

Which brings us to the Phillies' decision to option Kyle Kendrick to the minor leagues.

In his last 18 games, 16 of them starts, Kendrick has a 4.12 ERA. Not a sparkling number, but lower than Joe Blanton's or Jamie Moyer's over that period of time.

But average doesn't tell you much about consistency, and consistency is one of the reasons Kendrick didn't have a longer leash.

His average says that he gave up about 4 runs every nine innings in his last 16 starts. And he averaged roughly 6 innings per start during that stretch.

But in how many of those 16 starts did he actually pitch at least 6 innings and hold an opponent to 4 runs-or-less per nine? Eight.

So in 1 out of every 2 starts, Kendrick allowed the equivalent of 5 runs-or-more per nine innings. The Phillies are 13-28 in games in which an opponent scores at least 5 runs. That's a winning percentage of about .317.

Pretty much it boils down to this: A pitcher who throws a complete game shut-out one night and then allows 6 runs in 5 innings the next night has an ERA of 3.86. But he only put his team in position to win 50 percent of his starts.

There are other factors that Earned Run Average negates. Like, well, runs that aren't earned.

During the aforementioned 16-start stretch, Kendrick allowed six unearned runs.

There are two possible explanations:

1) He was unlucky.

2) At 4.19 K/9, he has the second-lowest strikeout rate of any NL starter with at least 80 innings pitched (Aaron Cook checks in at 4.13). More balls in play = more balls to mis-play = a proclivity for unearned runs.

Speaking of Aaron Cook, the Rockies' sinkerballer helps off-set his paltry K rate with a 1.47 groundball to flyball average. Kendrick's is 0.79, which is marginally worse than the 0.87 mark he posted during his successful rookie season.

And speaking of balls in play, Kendrick's opponents are hitting just .269 on balls in play this season. That's 15 points lower than his BABIP in 2007, and 23 points lower than his career average.

I don't really look at BABIP as anything more than a small wisp of smoke that bears investigating.

But when you consider that Kendrick is striking out roughly the same amount of batters, and coaxing roughly the same amount of groundballs, and allowing roughly the same amount of home runs, as he has during his career, and his ERA is already high and his BABIP is already low, and he hasn't strung more than two quality starts together in a row, you can see why the Phillies decided to send him back to Lehigh Valley to continue to work on his game.

Kendrick has allowed at least 5 runs in 8 starts this season, which is tied for the most in the National League (with Bud Norris and Rodrigo Lopez). Furthermore, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton are both tied for fourth with 7 starts of 5 runs or more. A contending rotation can afford to have one such pitcher. Certainly not three.

Kendrick has options and has a change-up and slider that the Phillies feel he still needs to improve on in order to lower his .975 OPS against left-handed hitters. The club still feels like Blanton is destined to find himself. And Moyer is Moyer.

That's not to say that Andrew Carpenter is the answer, or that Kendrick didn't have his moments. Really, you had to be impressed with the way Kendrick handled himself after initially losing out on a spot in the rotation back in spring training.

But it's getting down to a certain time for the Phillies.

^

UPDATE. . .

Here's one other thing to take into consideration. . .

If Kendrick remained on the active roster all season, he almost certainly would have qualified for salary arbitration as a Super Two, which would have meant a healthy raise for next season. Most players are eligible for arbitration after their third full season. But players who are close to three full years of service can qualify if they are among the 17 percent of players with the most service time in their class.

Historically, if a player reaches 2 years and 130 days of service time, he is a pretty good bet to be a Super Two.

Right now, Kendrick is right around 2 years and 100 days of service time.

Right now, he is highly unlikely to qualify as a Super Two. A month from now, he would have been a good bet to qualify.

The difference could be at least a million bucks.

• Comment removed.
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 4:55 PM, 07/20/2010
Wow, so THAT comment makes it in, but my rhyme of "gut-putting" was considered censorable? Good job.
fizzbin
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 4:56 PM, 07/20/2010
In reference to Jay Grace's comment: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 5:17 PM, 07/20/2010
Murph, you should credit the Good Phight blog with this concept called kERA, which stands for kendrick era....a beautiful piece was written on kendrick's inconsistencies and jeckyll and hyde performance.
djacobs5582
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 5:31 PM, 07/20/2010
great job Murph. Doesn't it always seem to come down to money most of the time??
Bob65S
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 5:39 PM, 07/20/2010
Something else should factor into the decision: It shows his teammates that the brass can do SOMETHING to try and yank this team out of the quicksand! I doubt that thought will ever fly though.....this mess was created by The Baseball gods, and will either suddenly go away, or will linger the balance of the season. My money is on the latter. What a damn shame! We looked like the best team in the NL when training camp broke. Welcome to Baseball.
TBear
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 5:43 PM, 07/20/2010
Kendrick will never be more than a mediocre major league pitcher. The Phillies should package him in a trade and ship him out of town for good.
SteveS11
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 5:56 PM, 07/20/2010
statistics, schmatistics. what are the statistical odds of the team sinking below 500 by end of month?
barrywil
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 6:09 PM, 07/20/2010
This is what happens when the Phillies' GM went on the cheap and expected Mercedes results from a Chevy player. Now, you reap what you sow.
jibberjabber
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 6:29 PM, 07/20/2010
jibberjabber: Not Chevy.... Yugo.
Vituperator
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 6:29 PM, 07/20/2010
yeah, okay, lay it on poor kendrick the schmendrick, but yo, we're gonna win 98 games and beat the red sox in the ws, right?! so doesn't matter who pitches, does it?
kiwi
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 6:31 PM, 07/20/2010
He only got sent down because of the guaranteed money to Blanton and Moyer. He's not great, but if you go on performance, he is sill in Philidelphia. The Phils gambled this year with a bunch of mediocre and "too-old" guys who had a great years in the past, just like Atlanta has been doing....they gambled and lost! They need to get younger, get rid of the tired old has beens.
chucksf
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 6:43 PM, 07/20/2010
With equal batting averages and statistically better pitching the answer for the struggles comes down to getting into a position to score. Extra base hits and stolen bases are down so far this year. Other than the consistency aspect of the team this year I believe the answer falls in the base running and aggressiveness on the base paths. 48 stolen bags in 58 attempts through more than half a season is uncharacteristic for this team. Last season they stole 119 bases in 147 attempts. This put pressure on the other team and gave the Phillies extra chances to score runs and in my opinion is the biggest problem this year. Everyone talks about a swagger and stealing a base sets that sort of tone. This is just my rambling thoughts but I hadn't heard many of people saying that baserunning and stolen bases to be one of the concerns this season.
hit n run
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 7:51 PM, 07/20/2010
Because Kendrick was the issue? Well, now that he's gone, the deadly offense wont have anymore leads blow by him. The unbelievable bullpen wont get overused in Kendrick starts and all those gems Blanton and Moyer pitch wont go to waste during a series win. It also opens up space for Happ to return to since, of course, here's blowing them away in his Iron Pigs uniform. Lookout Atalanta Kendrick's out and here come the Phillies.
SFPhillyphan
• 0 like this / 0 don't   •   Posted 8:40 PM, 07/20/2010
Moyer is out tonight in the 2nd, so what is up??? Trade or sick or hurt? Kyle will be back tomorrow!
KGKoons