I was just looking at some of Roger Clemens’ numbers from last year in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 – being curious since The Rocket may be on the Yankees Free Agent radar now – with the confirmation that they are shopping Randy Johnson.
In his 113.3 IP last year, Clemens faced 451 batters and had an ERA of 2.30 – which is a nifty figure, at face value.
However, in addition to that ERA stat, here are some other numbers on Roger from last year: his DER was .722 and his FIP was 3.07 – which tell part of an interesting story.
DER is the percent of times that a batted ball is turned into an out – not including homers. FIP is a measure, expressed sort of like ERA, of all things a pitcher is responsible for regardless of how well his fielders did.
For a compare on the Astros, Roy Oswalt had a DER of .692 and Andy Pettitte had a DER of .664. This tells you that Clemens was pretty lucky with getting batted balls turned into outs. And, this could explain the difference between his ERA and FIP.
Further, last year, 49% of the batted balls against Clemens last year were grounders. While that’s just a few ticks above major league average, it’s still above average. This suggests that Roger took advantage of having a good fielding infield at Houston last season. (According to the “Team Defense” feature in THT 2007, the Astros had the 5th best overall team defense in the N.L. in 2006. The Yankees, last year, for what it’s worth, had the 27th worst team defense in all of baseball by the same measures.)
Seeing all this, if anyone is expecting Clemens to join the Yankees, at age 44, next season, and post an ERA under three, well, that would be a mistake.
In fact, Roger Clemens’ lifetime Yankees ERA is 3.99 – and that was posted during his ages 36-40.
Given the time that has passed, it’s reasonable to figure that Roger Clemens, if a member of the Yankees in 2007, will fashion an ERA in the fours – rather than one in the threes (or below).
I hope the Yankees realize this reasonable expectation, and the price-tag for Rocket next year, and proceed as warranted.