Between the preview piece and a few others, Scott Kazmir has been my most written about player this spring. Let's continue that, eh?
These comparisons are based using FanGraphs' Win Values for starting pitchers. What I did was take the last three years of data, sort it by pitchers with at least 500 innings - right around Scott Kazmir's total - and then divided their starting pitcher runs by their starting pitcher innings. Making it a per inning rate state rather than a counting stat. The innings limit was placed to filter out pitchers who did not pitch in each of the three years
That left us with a decent amount (53) of starters ranging from CC Sabathia and Roy Halladay to Jason Marquis and Scott Olsen. That suggests we have a nice spread in talent, both in numerical and perceptional senses. Before I present the data allow me to give you a set of baseline numbers to which you should compare these. Remember again that these are pitchers with at least 500 innings over the last three seasons, so there's a sufficient sample size.
The average runs saved per inning pitched of this collection is ~0.17. That would mean that every starting inning that pitcher has thrown over the last three years has averaged a result of 0.17 runs better than replacement. Over 100 innings that's 17 runs - or 1.7 wins - and over 200 innings that's 3.4 wins. Here's a graphical look:
Okay, now let's get to the Kazmir part.
Kazmir is the red bar and James Shields is the yellow bar. This is a rate stat, which means on a rate basis over the last three years, Kazmir has been a better pitcher per inning than Shields. It's worth noting that Shields has thrown about 50 additional innings than Kazmir and that's the flaw here. Being healthy, enough to pitch is an important characteristic. Unfortunately, some people take health to an extreme and assume Kazmir needs to throw 200 innings to be effective. That is simply untrue, 170 innings of 2006-2008 Kazmir is better than 200 of an average pitcher. Kaz again in red:
Kazmir has been extremely good over the past three seasons, people should stop thinking otherwise.
[H/T: PriceMultiCyYoungs for the inspirational quotes]
Table with all the chart data after the jump.