Carp & Rocket – Trading Places – What if? - Part 2

If Chris Carpenter had been an Astro and Roger Clemens had been a Cardinal this season, what would it have meant to their seasons and that of their teams?

Yesterday's Part One of this article projected what Roger Clemens' game-by-game results and corresponding won-loss record would have been had he been pitching for the Redbirds instead of the ‘Stros.

Today's installment drops Chris Carpenter behind enemy lines and onto the 2005 Houston Astros, looking at the same types of individual and team results as we did for Clemens and the Cardinals.

Before ending this, I will draw some conclusions from a different angle about which may be the stronger Cy Young candidate and why.

Today's questions: What if Carpenter had been pitching for Houston instead of St. Louis for the 2005 season? How different would his record be? And, how much better would the Astros be?

Remember, enjoy this for what it is – some lighthearted fun. It is not a scientifically pure, precise analysis. But, the results are quite interesting.

Next, some assumptions. Through August 15, Carpenter has had 24 starts this season. I have kept those exact dates pitching and Carp's results on the mound on those same days constant. Among other things that implies is that his ERA is fixed for this analysis.

I assumed that the Astros' offensive output on those same days also remained constant, meaning the assumption is that they would have scored the same no matter who was on the mound.

Then, I paired the two. I took Carpenter's pitching line from those games and looked at what his Astros offensive support would have been each time out.

Another disclaimer. In actuality, Carpenter and the Astros were facing different opponents in different stadiums in different conditions on the days in question. The managerial decisions would have been different had they been together. And, there are a bunch of other objections I could raise. But remember, this is for fun.

Here is the base case:

Through August 15, Carpenter had a 17-4 record and three no-decisions in those 24 starts for the Cards. For this analysis, I held constant the two games Carpenter pitched against the Astros, in which he posted a pair of wins, even though it would be impossible to post a record against his own team. Still, I thought it fairer to give Carp the benefit of every start as I did with Clemens.

On those 22 other days Carpenter pitched, the Astros posted a 13-9 record. The ‘Stros are 0-2 on days Carpenter started against them, which again, I held constant.

For those who can't wait any more, here are the conclusions.

Had Carpenter been an Astro all season long, he would have had a poorer record than 17-4. That is not surprising, given the weaker Houston offense. Specifically, in this analysis, Carp would have had two fewer wins and three more losses while pitching for Houston.

As expected, the Astros would have benefited from Carpenter much more than he would have from them, as they would have been three games better, based on this study. Interestingly enough, that was the same advantage in wins that the Cardinals would have gained behind Clemens.

2005 thru 8/15

Actual record

"If Carp was an Astro" record

 

Won

Loss

No decision

Won

Loss

No decision

Carpenter

17

4

3

15

7

2

Astros team

13

11

-

16

8

-

As noted above, the Astros could have posted a better record with Carpenter starting every fifth day, but just a bit. Certainly, it wouldn't be enough to make any difference in the division standings, but in all fairness, it would be a factor in the Wild Card. Houston's record for those 24 games could have improved from 13-11 to 16-8.

However, looking at both analyses together, the net difference in the standings between the two teams would be a wash. The Cardinals would be three games better with Clemens, while the Astros would also have three more team wins with Carpenter this season.

2005 thru 8/15

Days Carpenter pitched

Days Clemens pitched

Astros record – actual

13-11

 

Astros record – with Carpenter

16-8

 

Cards record - actual

 

18-6

Cards record – with Clemens

 

21-3

Result in standings

+3 games

+3 games

I also looked at bullpen usage and despite what some have said, I do not see any advantage that Brad Lidge and the Houston pen provided either Clemens (in real life) or Carpenter (theoretical) over Jason Isringhausen and the rest of the Cardinals pen.

As a Astros starter this season instead of a Cardinal and with the Houston offense behind him, Carpenter could have won two fewer games and lost three more. That would have slipped his season record to a still-strong 15-7 with two no-decisions.

That's right. Using these assumptions, pitching the exact same way he has for the Cardinals, but with the Houston team behind him instead, Carpenter could be going into the second half of August two wins behind Clemens, the NL leader, along with still having a higher ERA.

2005 through August 15

Actual results

If Carpenter and Clemens were on opposite teams

 

Won-Loss

ERA

Won-Loss

ERA

Carpenter

17-4

2.25

15-7

2.25

Clemens

11-4

1.32

17-2

1.32

The conclusion to be drawn from this is that if Clemens had been a Cardinal and Carpenter had been an Astro, Clemens would be the clear front-runner in the Cy Young race due to better won-loss record and lower ERA. The fact that he would be the leading pitcher on a Cardinals team with a double-digit lead would only be the frosting on the cake.

For Carpenter, despite the Cy Young Award's target being the best pitcher in the league, this study shows that factors not under the pitcher's control, such as the offensive and defensive skills of his own team and that of his opposition can end up swaying the results.

Does all this have any effect on reality? Of course not. Still, I hope it was thought-provoking.

For reference purposes, here is Carpenter's and the Astros' game-by-game detail:

April 5
Carpenter @ Houston: One run in seven innings and a win.
Astros vs. Cards: 7-3 loss.
Carp's Astro Conclusion (CAC): Not applicable.

April 10
Carpenter vs. Phillies: Eight runs in 3-1/3 innings. Loss.
Astros vs. Reds: 5-2 win.
CAC: No change.

April 16
Carpenter @ Milwaukee: Three runs in 6-2/3 innings. Win.
Astros @ Cincinnati: 3-2 loss.
CAC: Minus one win and plus one loss for Carpenter.

April 21
Carpenter vs. Cubs: No runs in nine innings. Win.
Astros vs. Milwaukee: 8-7 win.
CAC: No change.

April 27
Carpenter vs. Milwaukee: Three runs in 7-2/3 innings. Win.
Astros @ Pittsburgh: 2-0 loss.
CAC: Minus one win and plus one loss for Carpenter.

May 2
Carpenter @ Cincinnati: Two earned runs in six innings. No decision.
Astros vs. Pittsburgh: 11-4 win. Led 8-0 after four innings.
CAC: Plus one win for Carpenter.

May 7
Carpenter vs. San Diego: Five runs in seven innings. Loss.
Astros @ Atlanta: 4-1 loss.
CAC: No change.

May 12
Carpenter vs. Dodgers: Two earned runs in seven innings. Win.
Astros vs. San Francisco: 6-3 loss. Scored three runs through five. Astros pen allowed two in ninth.
CAC: Minus one win for Carpenter.

May 18
Carpenter @ Philadelphia: Three runs in six innings. Win.
Astros vs. Arizona: 7-6 loss. All Arizona runs scored before seventh.
CAC: Plus one win for Astros.

May 23
Carpenter vs. Pittsburgh: One run in seven innings. Win.
Astros @ Cubs: 4-1 loss. Astros scored in second.
CAC: Minus one win for Carpenter.

May 29
Carpenter vs. Washington: Three runs in eight innings. Loss.
Astros @ Milwaukee: 2-1 win.
CAC: No change.

June 3
Carpenter @ Houston: No runs in eight innings. Win.
Astros vs. Cardinals: 2-0 loss.
CAC: Not applicable.

June 8
Carpenter vs. Boston: Three runs in six innings. Loss.
Astros @ Mets: 4-1 win. Astros scored fourth run in top of seventh.
CAC: Plus one win for Carpenter.

June 14
Carpenter @ Toronto: No runs in nine innings. Win.
Astros @ Baltimore: 6-1 loss.
CAC: Plus one win for Astros.

June 20
Carpenter @ Cincinnati: One run in eight innings. Win.
Astros vs. Colorado: 7-0 win.
CAC: No change.

June 25
Carpenter vs. Pittsburgh: No runs in nine innings. Win.
Astros vs. Texas: 6-5 loss.
CAC: Plus one win for Astros.

July 1
Carpenter vs. Colorado: No runs in 7-2/3 innings. Win.
Astros @ Cincinnati: 10-7 win.
CAC: No change.

July 6
Carpenter @ Arizona: One run in eight innings. Win.
Astros vs. San Diego: 5-4 win.
CAC: No change.

July 17
Carpenter vs. Houston: No runs in nine innings. Win.
Astros @ St. Louis: 3-0 loss.
CAC: Not applicable.

July 22
Carpenter vs. Cubs: One run in nine innings. No decision.
Astros @ Washington: 14-1 win
CAC: Plus one win for Carpenter.

July 28
Carpenter @ San Diego: Three runs in seven innings. Win.
Astros vs. Mets: 3-2 win. Astros scored two runs through seven.
CAC: Minus one win and plus one loss for Carpenter.

August 2
Carpenter vs. Florida: One run in nine innings. Win.
Astros @ Arizona: 3-1 win.
CAC: No change.

August 7
Carpenter vs. Atlanta: Two runs in eight innings. No decision.
Astros @ San Francisco: 8-1 win.
CAC: Plus one win for Carpenter.

August 13
Carpenter @ Cubs: Two runs in nine innings. Win.
Astros vs Pittsburgh: 1-0 loss.
CAC: Minus one win and plus one loss for Carpenter.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.


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