I promise this one's actually fun. All of them, actually. This post includes many facts, and all of them are fun.
I know this is a lousy presentation, and for that I apologize, but my brain's still working itself back into shape after a long busy weekend and loquacity is usually the last thing to return. So what are we looking at here?
- Across the league, the pitching lines are essentially equivalent in high-, medium-, and low-leverage situations, and the pitching line with runners on is a little worse than the pitching line with the bases empty
- Felix Hernandez has been amazing in run-scoring situations
Look at Felix's baserunner splits, then look at his leverage splits. The OPS is heavily influenced by BABIP swings, but the K/BB ratios and home run rates are not, and based on the numbers we're looking at, Felix has been at his most effective when he's had to be. Put another way, if you've watched Felix put guys on and then pitch his way out of it, and you came away wondering if he did that on purpose just to make the game more interesting, the numbers suggest that, sure, maybe.
This isn't an argument for Felix over CC Sabathia for the Cy Young. Sabathia has also pitched well in pressure situations. Rather, this is an observation that Felix has been tremendous when he's had to be tremendous, and it's also something to keep in mind when you use FIP or tRA or what have you in discussing Cy Young candidates. Sabermetric stats are important and useful, but by ignoring context, they fail to paint a full picture. If a guy pitches better with men on or when the game's really close, I feel like he should get credit for that.