I am eye-gougingly bored today, and it occurred to me that it is but a matter of weeks before Eric Milton arrives to haunt my nightmares again. I had high hopes when that photo of Danny Graves turned up that he might have eaten Eric Milton, but I must prepare myself for the possibility that he is still alive and on the Reds' pitching staff so I decided to use my time to determine whether there's any hope of significant improvement for Milton this year. And maybe I'm blinded by my newfound Castellini-borne optimism, but I think perhaps there is.

So my friend looked at DIPS and got these numbers for me since I'm not so good with statistics, also he pays for this kind of information. And this is what happened with pitchers' ERAs this past season compared to their DIPS from 2004. The ones in bold are the ones for whom the DIPS correctly predicted an improvement or decline for 2005 ERA:

(I copied and pasted these numbers and cannot get them to line up no matter how many spaces I put in, can someone help me with this? But I tried to fix it with slashes, anyway you get the point.)

Pitcher / 2004 ERA / 2004 DIPS ERA / 2005 ERA
Al Leiter / 3.21 / 4.84 / 6.13
Jake Peavy / 2.27 / 3.21 / 2.88
Carlos Zambrano / 2.75 / 3.68 / 3.26
Odalis Perez / 3.25 / 4.24 / 4.56
Jason Marquis / 3.71 / 4.61 / 4.13
Jake Westbrook / 3.38 / 4.19 / 4.49
Jose Lima / 4.07 / 5.03 / 6.99

Brandon Webb / 3.59 / 4.40 / 3.54
Steve Trachsel / 4.00 / 4.79 / 4.14
Carl Pavano / 3.00 / 3.56 / 4.77

Tom Glavine / 3.60 / 4.28 / 3.53
Oliver Perez / 2.98 / 3.50 / 5.85
Russ Ortiz / 4.13 / 4.84 / 6.89

Jeff Suppan / 4.16 / 4.86 / 3.57
Kaz Ishii / 4.71 / 5.44 / 5.14
Underperformers
Mark Hendrickson / 4.81 / 4.49 / 5.90
Corey Lidle / 4.90 / 4.55 / 4.53
Adam Eaton / 4.61 / 4.27 / 4.27
Nate Robertson / 4.90 / 4.53 / 4.48
Brett Myers / 5.52 / 5.10 / 3.72

Darrell May / 5.61 / 5.17 / 6.78
Cliff Lee / 5.43 / 4.91 / 3.79
Esteban Loaiza / 5.70 / 5.16 / 3.77
Jason Jennings / 5.51 / 4.91 / 5.02
Kris Benson / 4.31 / 3.80 / 4.13
John Lackey / 4.67 / 4.11 / 3.44
Jon Lieber / 4.33 / 3.79 / 4.20
Jeremy Bonderman / 4.89 / 4.24 / 4.57

Sidney Ponson / 5.30 / 4.52 / 6.21
Jason Johnson / 5.13 / 4.28 / 4.54
Derek Lowe / 5.42 / 4.36 / 3.61


My first thought in looking at this is that Oliver Perez is not nearly as good as I expected him to be by now, though he's still a young sprite. My second thought is that I'm totally blanking on who Cliff Lee is. BUT my third thought is that DIPS did pretty well in predicting improvement or decline in these pitchers. 24 out of 30. And, as my friend pointed out, a couple of the inaccuracies can be attributed to random things -- Ponson being crazy, for example.

So here are the DIPS based on 2005 ERAs for the top 15 overperformers and underperformers (of which, shockingly, Eric Milton is one) last season:

Overperformers
Pitcher / 2005 ERA / 2005 DIPS ERA
Roger Clemens / 1.87 / 3.02
Jarrod Washburn / 3.20 / 4.55
Andy Pettitte / 2.39 / 3.27
Kevin Millwood / 2.86 / 3.88
Bruce Chen / 3.83 / 5.03
Jeff Suppan / 3.57 / 4.66
Joe Blanton / 3.53 / 4.58
Tim Hudson / 3.52 / 4.44
Carlos Silva / 3.44 / 4.33
Jon Garland / 3.50 / 4.39
Kenny Rogers / 3.46 / 4.30
Jason Marquis / 4.13 / 5.12
Mark Mulder / 3.64 / 4.50
Dontrelle Willis / 2.63 / 3.20
Jose Contreras / 3.61 / 4.34
Underperformers
Zach Greinke / 5.80 / 4.52
Mark Hendrickson / 5.90 / 4.69
Joel Pineiro / 5.62 / 4.52
Jose Lima / 6.99 / 5.65
Eric Milton / 6.47 / 5.26
Jeff Francis / 5.68 / 4.70
Corey Lidle / 4.53 / 3.80
Brian Lawrence / 4.83 / 4.22
Jeremy Bonderman / 4.57 / 4.03
Mark Redman / 4.90 / 4.32
David Wells / 4.45 / 3.96
Jason Schmidt / 4.40 / 3.95
Chris Young / 4.26 / 3.88
Javier Vasquez / 4.42 / 4.03
Matt Clement / 4.57 / 4.17

The first thing I notice here is that my true love Javier Vazquez may finally have the season I have been waiting for him to have. The second is that Eric Milton is pretty high on that list of pitchers whose 2006 ERAs may significantly improve if we use their 2005 DIPS as a barometer for potential improvement.

So my question is: how accurate do you think all of this is? I always put forth the argument that a DIPS is all well and good in taking into account factors of a ballpark, but the fact remains that Eric Milton will be pitching half his games at GABP for as long as he is haunting my nightmares. My friend argues that it's not just park factors that affect DIPS but other things as well, such as accidents of defense. To which I respond, I don't know that the Reds' defense will help Eric Milton improve (although I see his point -- I expect FeLo, for example, to improve this year. But then we have Womack and Aurilia to worry about, and the fact that misplayed groundballs don't tend to be Milton's biggest problem.)

So I basically just did all that work to not feel any better or worse off than I did when I started. I'm looking for something, anything, to make me feel better about Milton...I swear the man has caused me more wasted time in my life than anyone I know personally. I can't completely give up hope, because he CAN throw a ball well occasionally...I've seen him do it...so I thought maybe DIPS would be a good thing to look at for him. But I don't know. What do you guys think? If this has been covered in depth before, I'm sorry, see above re: very very bored.