Buchholz and strength of schedule (SOS)
September 21st, 2009 by czar

His last eight starts have been against Baltimore (2x), Tampa (2x), Toronto (2x), Detroit and Chicago. I think it’s fair to ask whether he can do it against a good lineup, on the road against a team like New York.

I know you’re just trying to cover all the bases, but it’s really not.

There are good lineups in the AL and there are bad lineups. No one is claiming any of the above offenses are 2009 version of Murderer’s Row. That said, the if you throw out the Yankees (who are far and away outclassing the league) every other team is within (plus/minus) .050 of the league average in OPS. It is a statistical improbability that Buchholz’s recent run of extraordinary starts (since early August) are purely a function of opposition. In fact, I’m certain that if the only difference between his actual previous starts and hypothetical ones against NYY, DET, LAA, etc. was merely the opposing lineup, he’d still have excellent peripherals. Ironically, if he were to play NYY and LAA a couple times during this stretch, everyone would be tripping over themselves overrating Buchholz’s rates because he was still “so good against great opponents!”

Buchholz doesn’t pick the schedule; he merely pitches when his turn comes up. It’s not his fault that him flipping the switch happens to correspond with him facing “subpar” teams, which is causing people to confuse a great deal correlation with causation (i.e., Buchholz’s good rates are a function of his quality of opposition).

Posted in Message Board Ramblings

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