• Looking Deeper At Chris Britton

    Posted by on February 25th, 2008 · Comments (23)

    You don’t hear Chris Britton’s name all that much – in terms of being in the mix for the Yankees bullpen this season. While this blog was once optimistic about Chris Britton, the thought here (now) is that it’s a good thing the Yanks may have cooled on Britton.

    Yes, it’s true that Britton had an ERA of 2.51 and a WHIP of 1.13 in Triple-A last season. However, just because a guy pitches well at Triple-A doesn’t mean he can carry that success to the majors – see Sean Henn and Jim Brower last season as an example. While pitching for the same team as Britton (in Triple-A), Henn had a WHIP of 1.14 and Brower had an ERA of 2.27 last year.

    Basically, to know about Britton, you just have to look at his big league numbers from 2006. His first half ERA was 2.20 and his second half ERA was 5.14. Brass tacks, he snuck up on some people, early, that season, and, once the league got the book on him, then it became clobbering time. Lefties especially killed Britton in 2006 – they posted an OPS of .762 against him with a BABIP of .379 (in 82 PA).

    There’s a reason why the O’s gave up on Britton so quickly – and the reason is that he’s just not that good.

    Comments on Looking Deeper At Chris Britton

    1. MJ
      February 25th, 2008 | 1:15 pm

      There’s a reason why the O’s gave up on Britton so quickly – and the reason is that he’s just not that good.
      ===============================================
      1) Maybe the O’s wanted to get Jaret Wright back with Leo Mazzone? After all, didn’t the Yanks agree to pick up a portion of Wright’s contract? Maybe that’s why the O’s gave up on Britton — because they were getting a reasonably-priced starter for the back end of their rotation who had a past history of success with a member of their coaching staff?

      2) Also, I’m no stats geek but an opponent OPS of .762 sounds like it would be below league average. I’m not going to get into the minutiae of why you might be right or wrong about Britton but citing OOPS of .762 vs. lefties doesn’t sound like it would fit into a “he’s just not that good” assessment.

    2. Rich
      February 25th, 2008 | 1:31 pm

      Given the Yankees limited available options in the pen for much of last season, there was no reason not to give Britton a longer look.

      btw, Brower is 36, while Britton just turned 25, so the comparison is inapt.

    3. February 25th, 2008 | 1:51 pm

      And how old was Henn last year?

    4. February 25th, 2008 | 2:06 pm

      Let’s judge Chris Britton on what he did in 21 innings two years ago without noting that 4 of the 12 ER he gave up in that second half came in one appearance. Remove that 0.2 IP and his 2006 second half ERA is 3.54. That’s quite good.

    5. MJ
      February 25th, 2008 | 2:09 pm

      And how old was Henn last year?
      =========================================
      I’m not sure I even see why it matters what Brower/Henn did when talking about Britton. If we’re going to judge Britton on his merits, it wouldn’t make sense to either kiss his ass or rule him out based on what two of his Triple-A teammates did.

    6. Raf
      February 25th, 2008 | 2:26 pm

      Basically, to know about Britton, you just have to look at his big league numbers from 2006. His first half ERA was 2.20 and his second half ERA was 5.14.
      ——————-
      ERA, Month by month

      Mar/Apr: 5.79
      May: 0.00
      Jun: 3.29
      Jul: 2.57
      Aug: 11.12
      Sep/Oct: 1.42

      Anyway, my take on Britton is that he’s just another RHRP, a dime a dozen in MLB.

    7. February 25th, 2008 | 2:30 pm

      “Remove that 0.2 IP and his 2006 second half ERA is 3.54.”

      Are we allowed to just cherrypick the stats that we want to include and ignore? If so, let’s ignore all the ER that Igawa has given up too and give him the Cy Young.

    8. February 25th, 2008 | 2:55 pm

      “Are we allowed to just cherrypick the stats that we want to include and ignore?”

      Sure. That’s what you did when picking just his second half stats. So I responded in turn. Who knows if Britton will ever be a good Major League reliever? But we can’t write him off because of 21 innings just like we can’t pencil him in by subtracting the 0.2 innings I proposed taking away.

    9. baileywalk
      February 25th, 2008 | 3:04 pm

      Hasn’t Britton always been thought of as a big guy with a good fastball but not much else? Or, as Raf accurately describes him, a generic RHRP? But even if he is, there’s no reason to throw him away. At worst he’s an emergency callup who can pitch a few innings out of the ‘pen — one thing he has shown is that he can throw multiple innings in a game. More than likely he doesn’t make an impact with the team, but he COULD (even in some small way) and that’s a lot more than we can say about Jaret Wright, who he was traded for. Whatever they get out of Britton is a plus.

    10. singledd
      February 25th, 2008 | 3:17 pm

      Cherry picking stats isn’t fair, but when you have a small sample size, and someone has one really bad outing, the resulting ERA might not tell the story. If he can pitch 3 or 4 innings at a shot with an era that’s league average or better, he makes a decent long man.

    11. February 25th, 2008 | 3:19 pm

      “Sure. That’s what you did when picking just his second half stats.”

      Not true. I showed the 1st and 2nd half stats – and the trend between the two. That’s the point here – the longer he pitched, the worse he got.

    12. February 25th, 2008 | 3:20 pm

      “I’m not sure I even see why it matters what Brower/Henn did when talking about Britton. ”

      It shows you that guys who don’t pitch well also put up good numbers with the same team.

    13. Sherard
      February 25th, 2008 | 3:35 pm

      Come on. Trend ? That’s not a trend. The deepest statistical analysis in this thread is by raf, who clearly show that your conclusion that he was not good in the second half, was flat out wrong. He had a bad August. His second half ERA numbers in July and September were 2.57 and 1.42.

      Cherry picking is EXACTLY what it is when you throw out a 3 month average and make conclusions based on that 3 month average, and entirely ignore 2/3 of those three months. The fact that he posted monthly ERAs under 3 only three times, and two of them were in the second half – THAT is significant and would not suggest your conclusion at all.

      I would also point out that his August 2006 ERA was a result, not of one, but two outings against the Red Sox on August 12 and the Yankees on August 15. It would certainly be a nice luxury to have a guy that can always get outs against the top teams in the league, but you will have a hard time finding many pitchers with consistently good numbers against the Sox and Yankees. He did strike out David Ortiz to start his bad inning against Boston, though, so he’s got that going for him.

    14. MJ
      February 25th, 2008 | 4:21 pm

      It shows you that guys who don’t pitch well also put up good numbers with the same team.
      =========================================
      New idea for scouting? Watch one pitcher and make judgements on all others based on what that template pitcher does. Good idea, WWStaff, I’ll see if the Pirates will take you up on your idea. They’re known for being “smart” like that.

    15. Sonny M
      February 25th, 2008 | 4:53 pm

      The Orioles actually said at the time of the trade (and repeated it later on) why they got rid of Britton.

      It wasn’t because they believed he was bad or he sucked.

      It was because, in the words of the previous GM, he was to “fat”.

      They had serious issues with his weight, they thought (or at least they said) that due to his conditioning he would “gas out”.

      They also mocked him by implying that he might die of a heart attack from jogging from the bullpen to the mound. Which was totally classless and unnecessary.

    16. Ben K.
      February 25th, 2008 | 5:18 pm

      “Not true. I showed the 1st and 2nd half stats – and the trend between the two. That’s the point here – the longer he pitched, the worse he got.”

      Not true. The so-called trend is skewed by one bad outing. You ignored one bad outing in order to prove a trend that simply doesn’t exist to the degree you claim. Otherwise, his second half ERA is slightly higher than his first half ERA, but I’d gladly take a reliever with a 3.54 ERA as would anyone in baseball.

    17. February 25th, 2008 | 7:39 pm

      OK, I have to jump in with this – since I notice that many of the pro-Britton camp here are posters who are also, in the past, F.O.C…..

      No, not “Full of….” but, “Friends of Cashman.” [wink]

      If Britton was doing as well as you say, down in Triple-A, then why did Brian Cashman – clearly the best G.M. in baseball – allow him to sit down there for 3 months (June, July and August) while the Yankees could have used another quality arm in the pen? Three months, mind you!

      Either the smartest G.M. in baseball didn’t think too highly of Britton’s Triple-A performance, or, he’s not the smartest G.M. in baseball, right?

      So, here, you have to pick: Was Britton good, and Cashman dumb? Or, was Cashman smart and Britton not that good?

      And, don’t say “Cashman didn’t call him up because he knew Torre wouldn’t use him” – because, by saying that you’re saying that Torre wore the pants in the Yankees family and not Cashman. And, if that’s true, then Cashman should have been fired for allowing his subordinate to dictate terms to him on player personnel moves.

    18. Sherard
      February 25th, 2008 | 7:56 pm

      Steve said: “So, here, you have to pick: Was Britton good, and Cashman dumb? Or, was Cashman smart and Britton not that good?”
      ————————————————-

      Unreal. The point of the post was, hey, I thought Britton had a great 2006, why didn’t he help the 2007 bullpen – oh, wait, his second half numbers in 2006 weren’t that good – CONCLUSION: He actually isn’t that good.

      And unless you are flat out BLIND, the commenters here have utterly shattered that conclusion.

      Frosting on the cake, though, Steve’s contribution is….

      So does Cashman SUCK or Britton SUCK ?

      Wow, geez, thanks for the heady input.

    19. Sherard
      February 25th, 2008 | 8:04 pm

      As far as a snark-free response…

      There is most definitely some truth to the notion that Joe Torre was sometimes unwilling to use younger players. Should Cashman have been fired for allowing such insubordination ? Well, something close to that did happen. One of the 2 guys is working elsewhere, now isn’t he.

      Britton might have helped more last season than Brower and others. Maybe. Didn’t happen so any argument pro or con is moot. There is no denying that he pitched well for Baltimore and again in Scranton last year. Maybe you can show us the error of our ways, but “WW Staff” has failed miserably in that capacity.

    20. Rich
      February 25th, 2008 | 9:50 pm

      And, don’t say “Cashman didn’t call him up because he knew Torre wouldn’t use him” – because, by saying that you’re saying that Torre wore the pants in the Yankees family and not Cashman. And, if that’s true, then Cashman should have been fired for allowing his subordinate to dictate terms to him on player personnel moves.
      __

      In theory, it makes a lot sense for a GM to fill the 25 man roster with players that the manager wants. The problem is that Torre’s use of players, particularly relievers, became more and more inflexible.

      Cash did force Ramirez on the roster the second time he was called up, and he traded Proctor so that Torre wouldn’t rely on him to the exclusion of others.

      But I think your post lacks a little realism. It wouldn’t make sense for Cash to totally alienate his manager as the team battled for a playoff spot. So he chose to pick his battles more judiciously.

      As for who is the subordinate, Cash makes $2 mil per; Torre made over $7 mil per. Is Torre really the subordinate?

    21. February 25th, 2008 | 10:17 pm

      I’ll make a deal with ya’ll. I’ll gladly stop advancing my point on this, and, we’ll watch and see how Britton does in 2008.

      If he’s good to great, I’ll eat my hat. If he’s not, will you promise to do the same?

    22. Yu Hsing Chen
      February 25th, 2008 | 10:25 pm

      He’s a generic RP. and there’s nothing really wrong with that.

      Sean Henn is a headcase. he may or may not show something.

      A guy having success in AAA doesnt necceasirly equate to him haivng success in the majors. but on the other hand a guy sucking the first few times around doesn’t equate to them having nothing either.

    23. Raf
      February 25th, 2008 | 10:33 pm

      If Britton was doing as well as you say, down in Triple-A, then why did Brian Cashman – clearly the best G.M. in baseball – allow him to sit down there for 3 months (June, July and August) while the Yankees could have used another quality arm in the pen? Three months, mind you!
      ===========
      FWIW, he spent time on the DL with an abdominal strain.

      As for why he didn’t get the call, who knows? But Britton’s numbers are there for everyone to see. He was effective in his limited time in NY, he was effective in Scranton.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.