Sunday, January 30, 2011

Matt Cain vs. Joe Blanton: Are they the same pitcher?


Is Matt Cain only as good as Joe Blanton? Nope not even close.
This link was sent to me on Friday asking me what my thoughts were, basically I agree with what the overall premise is, over the last 3 years the Phillies 1-4 have been better then the Giants top 4. Also like the fine print after mutual fund advertisement past performance is not a guarantee of future returns, the same is true here especially with all but 1 guy on the Phillies on the wrong side of 30.

That being said the reason that I am here tonight writing this is not because I disagree but some of the crazy Phillies partisan commenters brought up something that I think should be addressed. Here are the comments in question:

From the author Bill Baer:
If you put him [Matt Cain] in Citizens Bank Park for 17 starts, he’s nothing but a Joe Blanton.

Also echoing this thinking is commenter Greenman!:
A lot of Giants fans seem to be way too confident in Matt Cain. I agree that he’s nothing but a Joe Blanton. They can both produce some pretty good starts but neither are phenomenal pitchers.
So I have to ask is this really the case?

Click for larger view
This is a look at each's ERA by age, Blanton has had  season where his ERA was in the 3.5 range and for the rest has hovered in the low to mid 4s. Cain on the other hand has only had one season where his ERA was above 4 and for the rest of his six seasons he has been in the mid to low 3s.

If ERA isn't your cup of tea you can look at FIP Cain has a career mark of 3.84 vs. 4.21 for Blanton. If you look at ERA+ Cain has a career mark of 126 vs. 99 for Blanton.

Even if you think that Cain gets by on thriving in the spacious confines of AT&T park he still manages to have a 3.76 ERA and keeps the ball in the park with a HR/9 of 0.85. Blanton can not boast the same consistency with an ERA that is 4.82 and with a HR rate that is even higher away from the launching pad that is Citizen's Bank Park.

Matt Cain is a good pitcher and comparing him to Joe Blanton is not an especially close comparison, Cain is among the top 15 to 20 pitchers in the National League while Blanton is serviceable he much closer to a league average pitcher then a front line pitcher.

If you're on Twitter you should definitely follow the The Crazy Crabbers. If you're not you should really consider joining, lots of good stuff going on there.

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