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Just The Sports: 2007-05-27

Just The Sports

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tyrus Thomas and Stromile Swift

At the tail end of a post about Ben Wallace duping the Chicago Bulls into overpaying him for his declining services, I semi-jokingly said that if I had been John Paxson then I would not have traded for Tyrus Thomas, who I pretended to mix up with Stromile Swift. Besides the fact that both players played college basketball at the same university, Louisiana State University, Thomas and Swift are both 6'9, between 215 and 225 pounds, were one of the top four draft picks in their respective drafts, possess the same physical skill set, and were both drafted because of their perceived potential and upside, dangerous attributes for additions to a team that wants to become a champion. If Thomas does end up following the same career path as Stromile Swift then the Bulls should be disappointed at wasting such a high draft pick and after Thomas's rookie season, the danger of that happening is clear and present and once again, a lot of truth is to be found in a jest.

Although Thomas did end his season with better final shooting statistics than Swift did in Swift's rookie season, the advantage Thomas seemingly has is not statistically significant because the range of his numbers is very wide. In other words, Thomas had a very high standard deviation for his shooting percentages and points per shot attempt. Swift had a lower standard deviation for his corresponding statistics, making his 48.7 TS% and .97 PSA compare less unfavorably to Thomas's rookie 52.1 TS% and 1.04 PSA.

As for taking care of the ball, neither Thomas nor Swift was particularly adept during their rookie campaigns so in that category we can call another draw with no clear leader.

Where Thomas did prove himself to be a significantly better player is when it came to rebounding. Thomas's 15.9 rebound rate easily trumped Swift's 12.4 rebound rate during the 2000-01 season.

Despite his lackluster rookie shooting numbers, Swift did make a big leap in his second NBA season, raising his true shooting percentage from 48.7% to 53.9 TS%. If Thomas can duplicate that improvement, he will most likely still be a player with an offensive rating still below league average. The good thing is that he plays good defense, which means the Bulls trading for him in the draft was only about 65%-75% of a waste.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Too Hyped Up?

Even when the former Oakland A's pitching trio of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder were largely dominating hitters across the major leagues, there was still a consensus which they themselves espoused multiple times that the best A's pitcher was someone named Rich Harden. Apparently, this opinion was a result of Harden possessing the nastiest and filthiest pitches among the four.

Yet, Harden has had a bit of trouble living up to the praise heaped upon him when he was still an untested player, largely due to the fact his body keeps betraying him and landing him on the disabled list. It has taken Harden a little over four seasons to amass seventy-five regular season starts; Tim Hudson, who I will compare Harden to for the purpose of this article, made the same amount of starts in only two and one-half seasons.

If Harden was indeed the best pitcher, then it stands to reason he would have a significantly better career, but actually, he and Hudson have had virtually mirror image careers with a few minor discrepancies. In Hudson's first seventy-five starts of his career, he allowed hitters a batting line of .228 BA/.302 OBP/.348 SLG with a .223 GPA. Harden's corresponding numbers allowed are .228 BA/.307 OBP/.341 SLG with a .224 GPA. With the pitchers' fielding-independent ERA, Harden has a slight lead due to the fact he has given up .70 HR/9 IP to Hudson's .81 HR/9 IP and also has a higher strikeout rate than Hudson (8.31 K/9 IP to 7.81 K/9 IP). Therefore, Harden's fielding-independent ERA is 3.70 and Hudson's is 3.89. Unfortunately for Harden, any slight advantage he may seem to possess goes up in smoke since he has not been healthy enough to help out the A's as much as Tim Hudson did and so while inning for inning he may look to be better, Hudson still had a more cumulative positive impact because he was not always injured.

Due to Harden's past ailments, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be able to sustain healthiness so he will probably never turn out to be the best of the four pitchers in reality.