As I perused my three daily baseball sites (The Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus, and Baseball America), I found some interesting content which I thought would be interesting to share.
First, their 'Daily Graphing' feature focused on Rays second baseman Jorge Cantu. They essentially pointed out what we already know. He doesn't walk a lot, his power climbed later in the year, although the one thing I thought was interesting was that towards the end of the year, Cantu swung at 37% of all pitches out of the strike zone. I knew his plate paitence was deteriorating, but I didn't realize it had become that bad. Overall, the article presents nothing else new factually, but does present the old information in a very helpful graphic form which is worth a look at, so I reccomend at least glancing over it.
The other interesting thing I found did not directly involve the Rays, but did present a new statistic in the mold of DIPS (Defense Independant Pitching Statistics), and is a modification of DIPS 3.0. It involves a bunch of factors listed in the article, including BABIP, Balls in Play, line drive persentage, and so on and so forth, but it does create a new statistic on top of an established old one, so I thought I should inform you guys, and present the Devil Rays' pitchers, and their DIPS 3.0. I would suggest reading the article so you can understand how the came to the final stat, although I have read it already and still don't quite completely understand it. Still, here are the Rays pitchers' DIPS 3.0 from 2005 and 2004. The results for 2005 are not good, as the top Rays pitcher, Scott Kazmir, is 116th overall, and that is just in the American League.
Rays Pitching DIPS 3.0-2005
So what does this tell us? Well, a lot of the Rays' staff was not as bad as they appeared, although the top end guys like Kazmir and Orvella were lower than they appeared. Overall, the pitching staff was probably a little bit better than they appeared, but they were still pretty awful. Yes, Braz was as awful as he looked, as were Bell and Nomo, Trever Miller was a good amount worse than his ERA would suggest, McClung was better, and Lee Garnder was surprisingly decent when compared to the rest of the pitching staff. No, here are the 2004 numbers, when the staff was better by the stats.
Rays Pitching DIPS 3.0-2004
So what do these numbers mean? Well, the Rays weren't as good as their 2004 numbers suggested. In and out journeymen like Fortunato and Gonzalez had surprisingly good numbers, while Trever Miller had the best DIPS 3.0 on the entire staff. The Rays had a lot of mediocre releivers, and a lot of journeymen pitchers whose contributions were very flukey. The only real difference between 2004 and 05 is luck. There is just no real differece. The Rays didn't overhaul their pitching staff, it just happened that a lot of things clicked in '04. That is, if you read anything into the stat. THT appears to be onto something with this, as it does reflect my perceptions watching this team, so it does have its use, and more data can never be bad. I would never exclusively base my opinions on this or any other stat, but it is useful and interesting.