Over the All-Star break I took a look at the idea of the 5-Man rotation and where the Rays fit in with this concept. It seems that many have the idea that the Rays feature a starting pitching staff of four #2s and a #5. Well using xFIP I found this to not be the case at all. First a little background before delving into the results.
I looked at all pitchers that had at least 40 innings pitched as a starter. This gave me 157 pitchers, which is perfect since there are 30 teams hypothetically using 5 starters. I sorted by xFIP and then separated 30 names for each group with the remaining seven lumped in with the #5s. I then assigned each pitcher a rank from 1-5 depending on where they landed. From here we can look at this at the individual as well as team level. Click HERE to view the entire workbook as a Google Doc. Here’s the average xFIP for each grouping:
#1 – 3.47
#2 – 3.96
#3 – 4.31
#4 – 4.65
#5 – 5.26
How did the Rays as a team make out? I averaged each pitcher for each staff to get team rankings that look something like this:
This is not adjusted for league or park effects, but a quick look shows that the Rays staff is middle of the pack and tied with three other teams. Keep in mind that a ranking of 1.00 would mean that team has five aces, while a ranking of 5.00 would mean you have five #5s. You can go through and view other teams with the link provided above, but for the rest of this I just want to focus on the Rays staff as shown above. It happened to work out that the Rays had a guy for each slot after all. Whereas a team like the Yankees had three #2s and two #4s the Rays had a true guy for each slot. We can compare each guy to the average for each slot and see that Shields is a below average #1, Price is an above-average #2, Niemann is an above-average #3, Garza is an above-average #4, and Davis is an above-average #5. I was intrigued to find it shake out this way and even more excited to see that pretty much everybody is in the top-half of their slot. Bear in mind that this data only covers up to the All-Star Game so it does not include Price’s worst start of the year last night versus the New York Yankees.