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DERA Watch

Publication Date: January 4, 2005

The Opening Look Back

It's time for this year's look at Defense-Independent ERA, or DERA, an attempt to look at pitching performance independently of the factors of defense and luck that can distort a pitcher's record. Last year's report contains the formula that I'm using and links further back to introductory material.

Before I get into the overall picture for 2004, though, I want to see if one of my reasons for doing this paid off. The reason that I started last year delaying this report until the beginning of the next season is that I thought it might be useful in identifying pitchers who might have their results improve dramatically during the season. The following chart contains the pitchers that I identified as likely to break out, with another column added for their 2004 ERA:

Team                      Pitcher                    DERA  ERA    2004

Fairfield                 Pablo Tamayo               4.16 10.64   4.87
Norfolk State             Andrew Renshaw             3.78  8.71   4.35
Santa Clara               John Redmond               4.46  7.63   6.08
Quinnipiac                Dave Bennett               3.31  6.34   5.50
Southeastern Louisiana    Jeremy Mizell              4.26  7.06   5.43
Villanova                 Nick Allen                 4.40  7.15   4.55
Central Michigan          Ryan Cremeans              4.32  6.99   4.30
Duke                      Russell Durfee             4.35  6.85   15.43
California                Kyle Crist                 3.74  6.02   5.73

These are obviously encouraging results. Only Cremeans got his 2004 ERA to be better than his 2003 DERA, but everyone but Durfee improved (Durfee threw only 4 innings last year, all in relief), and half of them improved considerably.

Leader Board

The full reports for starters and relievers are online now; here are the top 25 for each group:

Team                      Pitcher                    DERA  ERA

Long Beach State          Jered Weaver               1.60  1.62
Wichita State             Mike Pelfrey               2.29  2.18
Illinois-Chicago          Ryan Zink                  2.44  2.07
Northeastern              Jordan Thomson             2.58  2.13
North Carolina A&T        Michael Hauff              2.61  3.30
Virginia Commonwealth     Justin Orenduff            2.65  2.43
Southern California       Ian Kennedy                2.66  2.91
Nebraska                  Justin Pekarek             2.70  3.16
Rice                      Philip Humber              2.76  2.27
Stony Brook               Jon Lewis                  2.81  3.06
Fairfield                 Tim Dugan                  2.83  3.56
Cal State Fullerton       Jason Windsor              2.86  1.72
Fairleigh Dickinson       Jesse Anziano              2.89  3.89
Mount St. Mary's          Dustin Pease               2.89  3.19
Memphis                   Jarrett Grube              2.90  2.82
Virginia                  Andrew Dobies              2.93  3.41
Minnesota                 Glen Perkins               2.93  2.83
Central Florida           Matt Fox                   2.93  1.85
South Carolina            Matt Campbell              2.94  3.05
Texas A&M                 Zach Jackson               2.95  3.58
Gardner-Webb              Zach Ward                  2.95  3.16
Princeton                 Ross Ohlendorf             3.01  3.46
Mercer                    J. R Mathes                3.04  3.64
Winthrop                  Kevin Slowey               3.06  3.23

Team                      Pitcher                    DERA  ERA

Army                      Milan Dinga                1.55  3.86
Auburn                    Chris Dennis               1.71  2.61
Wichita State             Tommy Hottovy              1.79  2.25
Southern Mississippi      Austin Tubb                1.84  0.93
Kent State                Ryan Davis                 1.95  6.43
Brigham Young             Kalen Parsons              2.00  6.10
Princeton                 Brian Kappel               2.10  3.19
Miami, Florida            Andrew Lane                2.13  2.84
Virginia Commonwealth     Cla Meredith               2.15  2.55
Nebraska                  Mike Sillman               2.19  2.86
Notre Dame                Ryan Doherty               2.26  2.38
North Carolina            Michael Gross              2.30  2.24
Southeast Missouri State  Brad Smith                 2.33  2.48
William and Mary          Bill Bray                  2.37  2.44
Winthrop                  Jon Wilson                 2.42  1.88
San Diego State           Ryan Schroyer              2.46  2.85
Santa Clara               Anthony Rea                2.47  1.68
Mississippi State         Saunders Ramsey            2.52  3.50
Wichita State             Danny Jackson              2.52  0.00
South Carolina            Chad Blackwell             2.56  2.57
Troy State                Nate Moore                 2.57  1.25
Birmingham-Southern       Connor Robertson           2.60  2.37
Texas A&M                 Kevin Whelan               2.61  4.15
Old Dominion              Jason Godin                2.62  5.87
Brigham Young             J. D Stambaugh             2.65  5.46

None of this is competition- or park-adjusted, so make your own mental adjustments there (the whole question of how to adjust pitching stats is one I've got to work on this year; the hard part is identifying where a pitcher makes his starts).

Guys to Watch

Since last year's crop did so well, I'm excited about this list, then. Here are the guys with the biggest gaps between their ERA and their DERA who should be returning this year:

Team                      Pitcher                    DERA  ERA

Air Force                 Paul Vignola               6.93 11.87
St. Joseph's              Al Braun                   4.68  8.50
Kentucky                  Craig Snipp                4.46  7.62
Murray State              Billy Fares                4.23  6.97
Old Dominion              Andrew Bucher              4.45  7.12
James Madison             Brian Leatherwood          5.16  7.73
Mount St. Mary's          Steve Stone                3.53  6.05
High Point                Josh Cotten                6.33  8.73
Hofstra                   David Huth                 6.35  8.66
Nevada-Las Vegas          Matt Luca                  3.71  5.99

Again, there's no reason to expect any of these guys to be All-World this year (although Stone and Luca were both good enough to have a chance), but given the value of an average pitcher to eat innings, they're all worth a shot. On the flip side, they'll both still be decent, but I wouldn't pick up Birmingham-Southern's Mac Godwin (5.95 DERA/3.03 ERA) or Lamar's Derrick Gordon (4.49/1.92) for your fantasy team just yet.

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