• What’s The Difference Between Cliff Lee & Mark Buehrle?

    Posted by on December 10th, 2010 · Comments (20)

    To be candid, really not that much at all.

    Comments on What’s The Difference Between Cliff Lee & Mark Buehrle?

    1. clintfsu813
      December 10th, 2010 | 2:54 pm

      Wow…the ’10 Yanks had 4 in the top 25.

    2. MJ Recanati
      December 10th, 2010 | 3:18 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Not all pitchers get off to the good start that Mark Buehrle did. Thus looking at Cliff Lee from 2005-2007 doesn’t really tell us the pitcher he’s become since re-emerging from the minor leagues during that ’07 season.

      That isn’t to say that the data is wrong, merely that you’re trying to frame the argument that Mark Buehrle and Cliff Lee are similar pitchers today because of how similar they’ve been since 2005. While they might be similar since 2005, they’re clearly not similar any longer. Cliff Lee is obviously better.

    3. December 10th, 2010 | 3:23 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Cliff Lee is obviously better.

      What was Lee’s W-L record and ERA last season?

    4. Scout
      December 10th, 2010 | 3:25 pm

      Well, let’s put it this way: which one would you rather have starting for you twice in a best-of-five series next October? Because that’s why the Yankees are willing to pay Lee $23 million-plus per year.

    5. Jake1
      December 10th, 2010 | 3:29 pm

      when Mark B does what Lee has done the last 2 Oct’s u can compare them.

      Until then u sound stupid even mentioning them in the same sentence.

    6. MJ Recanati
      December 10th, 2010 | 3:38 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      What was Lee’s W-L record and ERA last season?

      Cliff Lee was 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA last season. Mark Buehrle was 13-13 with a 4.28 ERA last season.

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re trying to get at. First, you know well enough that W/L and ERA are not the only way to measure pitchers (and they’re certainly not the best way to measure pitchers, in any case). Second, even by your own query, Lee was a full run better than Buehrle.

    7. Rich M
      December 10th, 2010 | 3:39 pm

      Since Lee returned from the minors; 2008-2010
      W-L 48-28 ERA 2.98 ERA+ 142

      Mark Buehrle same time frame:
      W-L 41-35 ERA 3.97 ERA+ 115

      and just 2010
      Lee: 12-9 ERA 3.18 ERA+ 130
      Buehrle: 13-13 ERA 4.28 ERA+ 102

    8. MJ Recanati
      December 10th, 2010 | 3:47 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Two points:

      1) Would the White Sox trade Mark Buehrle straight up for Cliff Lee if the Mariners (or Rangers) had come calling last year? I say yes, absolutely. Would the Mariners (or Rangers) have traded for Mark Buehrle and sent Cliff Lee in exchange? I say no.

      Obviously this is a stupid hypothetical but I think you’d be the only one to argue that Buehrle and Lee are close at this point in time. I reiterate my first comment that what seems like a relatively even competition since ’05 doesn’t fully capture who the better pitcher is right now.

      Cliff Lee, past three seasons: 142 ERA+, 1.12 WHIP, 5.64 K/BB, 7.2 K/9
      Mark Buehrle, past three seasons: 115 ERA+, 1.33 WHIP, 2.36 K/BB, 4.8 K/9

      2) I see a recurring pattern forming here. You either don’t like someone outright or you don’t like the contract that person may be paid so you begin to create false equivalencies as a means to argue your position. You did it with Sabathia back in the winter of ’08, for instance. Fortunately Sabathia has grown on you. Perhaps Lee will too, I don’t know. But it’s definitely one of your characteristics to get it into your head that Lee=Buehrle and to argue on that basis without capturing the nuance between “since ’05″ and what’s happened since ’08 when one pitcher began trending sharply upwards and the other stayed about the same (with a bad regression in 2010, I might add).

    9. December 10th, 2010 | 4:05 pm

      Jake1 wrote:

      when Mark B does what Lee has done the last 2 Oct’s u can compare them. Until then u sound stupid even mentioning them in the same sentence.

      How many times did Lee face the Giants in the WS this year and how many times did he beat them?

    10. Corey Italiano
      December 10th, 2010 | 4:11 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      So all things equal, you wouldn’t care if it was Buehrle or Lee signing?

    11. December 10th, 2010 | 4:35 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      So all things equal, you wouldn’t care if it was Buehrle or Lee signing?

      Nope. I’m saying that, if you want to compare Jeter to other SS to make him a contract offer at a certain salary level, then perhaps we should look at pitchers like Lee, and what they’re worth/being paid, before he is signed at $150 million.

      Lee is a solid pitcher. I’ve said this before. He reminds me of Boomer Wells at his peak – minus the weight and the baggage. I’ve said this before too.

      But, I think it’s getting out of hand with the years and the money. He’s not Halladay. Heck, he’s not even CC.

    12. MJ Recanati
      December 10th, 2010 | 4:49 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      He’s not Halladay. Heck, he’s not even CC

      Using the same criteria you used to run your initial search except changing the start from 2005 to 2008 instead (with min. 600 IP (since 1000 IP would be impossible)):

      By ERA+:
      Roy Halladay 157
      Feliz Hernandez 155
      Tim Lincecum 152
      Johan Santana 143
      Cliff Lee 142
      CC Sabathia 139

      Actually, it looks to me like he is just like CC, and a touch better, even.

      Of the six people on this list, two (Hernandez/Lincecum) have never hit free agency, thus their market value has never been truly tested. Two others (Santana/Sabathia) signed the richest pitching contracts in history. The fifth (Halladay) took a slightly below-market contract extension as part of his exclusive negotiating window with the team that acquired him in a trade and the sixth (Lee) is likely to cash in as Santana/Sabathia did before him.

      If you ask me, what’s happening with Lee makes perfect sense. He’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball the past three seasons and he’s going to get paid the way other, similar pitchers got paid when they had the market power to negotiate their true value.

    13. clintfsu813
      December 10th, 2010 | 4:50 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      How many times did Lee face the Giants in the WS this year and how many times did he beat them?

      Well..Lee beat us twice in ’09 and still didnt win a title :D

    14. MJ Recanati
      December 10th, 2010 | 4:51 pm

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      As a follow-up to my search directly above, Buehrle ranked 18th, with an ERA+ of 114 over that 2008-2010 timeframe. That’s not shabby but it’s nowhere close to the top six pitchers I listed.

    15. MJ Recanati
      December 10th, 2010 | 4:56 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      How many times did Lee face the Giants in the WS this year and how many times did he beat them?

      Not sure exactly what your point is here.

      In 76 career playoff innings, Lee is 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and an absurd 10.0 K/BB ratio.

      He’s one of the best playoff pitchers out there right now. You’re going to knock Cliff Lee for not beating the Giants in two starts this year but compare him to a guy with a career 4.11 ERA in the playoffs in 31 innings?

    16. Raf
      December 10th, 2010 | 6:58 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      What was Lee’s W-L record and ERA last season?

      There are better metrics to understand the value of these two pitchers.

    17. Evan3457
      December 10th, 2010 | 8:20 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      MJ Recanati wrote:
      Cliff Lee is obviously better.
      What was Lee’s W-L record and ERA last season?

      Considerably better than Buerhle’s especially considering that he spent the first half the season with the worst team in the league, and then endured a bad month because of an injury.

      There’s no comparison, Lee was significantly better than Buerhle, even last year. Plus, Lee can be had for just money, whereas the White Sox will demand multiple good young players/prospects for Buerhle.

    18. Evan3457
      December 10th, 2010 | 8:23 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Jake1 wrote:
      when Mark B does what Lee has done the last 2 Oct’s u can compare them. Until then u sound stupid even mentioning them in the same sentence.

      Steve Lombardi wrote:
      How many times did Lee face the Giants in the WS this year and how many times did he beat them?

      How many times did he face the Yanks and Rays last season, and how many times did he shut them down cold? Lee got beat up in game 1 of the Series, and then made 1 bad pitch to Renteria in a game where he could not afford 1 bad pitch.

    19. Evan3457
      December 10th, 2010 | 8:40 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:
      Lee is a solid pitcher. I’ve said this before. He reminds me of Boomer Wells at his peak – minus the weight and the baggage. I’ve said this before too.

      Lee is better than Wells at his peak in any category except gross wins and losses. His last 3 years are significantly better than any 3 year period of Wells career in ANY of the following categories:

      ERA, Adjusted ERA, K/BB, WAR, and FIP.

      Their styles are slightly similar. Right now, Lee is considerably better at it than Wells ever was, over any 3 year period of their careers. Acccording to Fangraphs WAR, Lee has three straight seasons of being worth about 7 wins to his team: 7.2 in 2008, 6.6 in 2009, and 7.1 (INCLUDING the injury) last year. Wells had one season in that range in his career, 6.8 in 2000 for the Jays, and nothing else over 5.

      If Wells, at his peak (1997-2000), were available on today’s free agent market, he’d be worth, roughly, $16-18 million a season. Tack on another $4-6 million for the extra 2 WAR a year (and that’s conservative), and you’ve got Lee right around what the Yanks are offering.

      Fangraphs’ “Values” for Cliff Lee for 2008, 2009, 2010: $32.4 million, $29.6 million, and $28.3 million.

    20. Evan3457
      December 10th, 2010 | 8:45 pm

      A different comparison:

      Fangraphs WAR for Roy Halladay, 2008, 2009, 2010: 7.5 in 2008, 7.3 in 2009, 6.6 in 2010.

      That’s 21.4 WAR for Halladay in 2008-2010, and 21.1 for Lee.

      He may not be Halladay (durability, long-term), but performance-wise, he’s been just about as good the last 3 years. He got beat in his 1st start vs. the Giants, and won his 2nd because the Phils got to Lincecum for 3 runs, and another off their pen.

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