Sunday, April 03, 2011

Matt Cain Continues to Confuse the System

Matt Cain got the Giants going yesterday with a flawless performance while the Giants' bats came alive to put together a 10-0 win over the Dodgers. It's not surprising that Cain is the guy who gets the Giants on the board this year. He'll never get the love that Tim Lincecum gets with all those strikeouts. Cain only struck out three batters in his six innings of scoreless work. But he only gave up five hits too. He walked none. The performance continued his excellence through last season's playoffs and World Series when he didn't give up a run.

Cain continues to confound the analysts. This guy over at said not to draft him in your fantasy league. They are starting to catch on a bit though. But it's been slow in coming. Here are some interesting tidbits concerning Cain:

  • Cain has had only one season where his FIP was lower than his actual ERA. He's never had a season where his xFIP has been lower than his actual ERA.
  • Cains wins above replacement (WAR) only ranked him 30th in the majors last years. Guys who finished ahead of him with no where near as good a record and ERA were: Greinke, Gavin Floyd, Anibal Sanchez, Chad Billingsley, Colby Lewis and Hiroki Kuroda. Would you rather have any of those guys on your team over Cain? Well, maybe Greinke.
  • Matt Cain's BABIP for his career is .266. Can anyone be that lucky for that long?
  • Matt Cain's Home run to Fly ball percentage for his career is only 7 percent. He has the 11th best stat in that category over the last three years.

There is no doubt that analysts are trying to figure out what makes Cain so successful. A good example is this Fangraphs article found here. The Fan isn't smart enough to lead the way in telling you why Cain does so well. The only point of this post is to tell you that this guy has put up over 1,000 quality innings in the last five years and there is no way the Giants win the World Series without him. After a spring concern with a sore elbow, Cain has come out in 2011 and has thrown another gem. And his big win got the Giants off the bubble.

The Fan can't tell you why Cain is so good. But the Fan can tell you that the guy is money.


Lewie Pollis said...

I don't think anyone is saying that Cain isn't good, just that he's not as good as his ERA suggests. I think Carruth's argument about Cain's ballpark, defense, and competition explaining most of the gap between his ERA and xFIP is convincing. And the first article you linked to didn't say Cain wouldn't help your fantasy team, it just said that the 8th round is far too early to take a guy with a history of injury problems who threw nearly 250 innings with a 4.00 xFIP. Why is that wrong?

William J. Tasker said...

I am never confident or smart enough to ever say anything is wrong. The one possibility I'm suggesting is that Cain just well be as good as his ERA suggest. Don't have any definitive answers. I appreciate the comeback and comment.