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Thursday, July 2, 2009
Don't be fooled by Millwood's ERA

Kevin Millwood: All-Star? Yeah, probably.

Kevin Millwood: deserving All-Star? No, probably not. As FanGraphs' R.J. Anderson notes, Millwood has been exceptionally lucky:

I cut the part where Anderson gives some credit to the defense behind Millwood, but he dispenses that nugget and then sort of forgets about it, and I wonder if he should. He doesn't mention Millwood's batting average (allowed) on balls in play, and I wonder if he should. In 2007, Millwood gave up an astronomical .340 BABiP ... and last year it was even higher (.358!).

And this year?

.261, the lowest of his Millwood's career.

I'm sure someone's pointed this out before, but a high strand rate isn't completely about good relievers and effective clutch pitching; it's also about BABiP. If you have a low BABiP you're going to have a low BA, and a low BA is going to result in more runners being stranded. Oh, and of course the defense contributes to a low BABiP ... but not nearly enough to explain an 80- (or 100-) point drop in BABiP from one season to the next.

Millwood has been incredibly lucky this season. There's just no way around it. If he's on your fantasy team, you should trade him to someone who doesn't read FanGraphs (or SweetSpot!). In the real world, though, the Rangers are basically stuck with a guy who's going to post an ERA well above 4.00 in the second half of the season.