Diamondbacks' Starting Five Pitchers: 1998-2015

For a Major League Baseball team, a quality starting rotation goes a long ways towards making the playoffs. While that statement is rather obvious, what becomes less obvious is the way to construct a quality rotation. Our front office has bought the top-of-the-line free agent this winter, and traded for another high quality starting pitcher. Now, while Greinke and Miller might not become the next Johnson and Schilling, they might be able to lead this rotation to the playoffs. With these players and thoughts in mind, I decided to look and see how our starting rotations have stacked up throughout the 18 years of Diamondbacks existence.

I decided that I would take the five starting pitchers from each season with the most games started. While there might be a pitcher with more innings pitched, I figured for the sake of this exercise, games started would be a good way to organize the pitchers. From here on out, I will refer to these starting pitchers each season as the "starting five". The next section contains each season’s starting five in descending order of GS. Listed next to each year is the number of games started by all five pitchers combined. For example, last year’s starting five started 125 out of a possible 162 games. Next to each individual’s name is their respective bWAR for that season, and at the bottom is the total of all five pitcher’s bWAR’s. If you feel like saying tl;dr, you can skip down and there are some tid bits of interest afterwards, with some reflections and toughts.

2015: 125 starts

Rubby De La Rosa: - 0.0 bWAR

Chase Anderson: 0.8 bWAR

Jeremy Hellickson: 0.0 bWAR

Robbie Ray: 1.7 bWAR

Patrick Corbin: 1.3 bWAR


2014: 117 starts

Wade Miley: 0.8 bWAR

Josh Collmenter: 2.4 bWAR

Chase Anderson: 0.8 bWAR

Brandon McCarthy: - 0.5 bWAR

Trevor Cahill: - 1.5 bWAR


2013: 133 starts

Wade Miley: 1.3 bWAR

Patrick Corbin: 2.8 bWAR

Trevor Cahill: 0.7 bWAR

Brandon McCarthy: - 0.2 bWAR

Ian Kennedy: - 2.5 bWAR


2012: 132 starts

Ian Kennedy: 2.3 bWAR

Trevor Cahill: 2.6 bWAR

Wade Miley: 3.5 bWAR

Joe Saunders: 0.7 bWAR

Patrick Corbin: 0.7 bWAR


2011: 132 starts

Daniel Hudson: 1.5 bWAR

Ian Kennedy: 4.8 bWAR

Joe Saunders: 1.5 bWAR

Josh Collmenter: 1.9 bWAR

Zach Duke: - 0.3 bWAR


2010: 124 starts

Rodrigo Lopez: - 0.7 bWAR

Ian Kennedy: 2.9 bWAR

Dan Haren: 0.6 bWAR

Edwin Jackson: 0.1 bWAR

Barry Enright: 1.5 bWAR


2009: 141 starts

Doug Davis: 2.4 bWAR

Dan Haren: 6.5 bWAR

Max Scherzer: 1.3 bWAR

Jon Garland: 1.3 bWAR

Yusmeiro Petit: - 0.5 bWAR

TOTAL: 11.0 bWAR

2008: 141 starts

Brandon Webb: 5.8 bWAR

Dan Haren: 6.1 bWAR

Randy Johnson: 3.2 bWAR

Doug Davis: 2.4 bWAR

Micah Owings: - 0.4 bWAR

TOTAL: 17.1 bWAR

2007: 139 starts

Brandon Webb: 6.4 bWAR

Doug Davis: 2.5 bWAR

Livan Hernandez: 1.4 bWAR

Micah Owings: 1.6 bWAR

Edgar Gonzalez: 0.2 bWAR

TOTAL: 12.1 bWAR

2006: 129 starts

Brandon Webb: 7.0 bWAR

Miguel Batista: 2.3 bWAR

Claudio Vargas: 1.1 bWAR

Enrique Gonzalez: 0.0 bWAR

Juan Cruz: 1.7 bWAR

TOTAL: 12.1 bWAR

2005: 135 starts

Brandon Webb: 5.0 bWAR

Javier Vazquez: 2.1 bWAR

Brad Halsey: - 0.1 bWAR

Russ Ortiz: - 1.7 bWAR

Shawn Estes: 0.9 bWAR


2004: 125 starts

Randy Johnson: 8.5 bWAR

Brandon Webb: 3.2 bWAR

Casey Fossum: - 1.4 bWAR

Steve Sparks: -0.7 bWAR

Casey Daigle: -0.6 bWAR


2003: 129 starts

Elmer Dessens – 1.2 bWAR

Miguel Batista – 4.3 bWAR

Brandon Webb – 6.2 bWAR

Curt Schilling – 6.0 bWAR

Randy Johnson – 1.6 bWAR


2002: 153 starts

Randy Johnson: 10.9 bWAR

Curt Schilling: 8.7 bWAR

Rick Helling: 2.0 bWAR

Miguel Batista: 2.1 bWAR

Brian Anderson: 1.8 bWAR

TOTAL: 25.2 bWAR

2001: 126 starts

Curt Schilling: 8.8 bWAR

Randy Johnson: 10.0 bWAR

Brian Anderson: - 0.9 bWAR

Miguel Batista: 2.9 bWAR

Robert Ellis: - 0.3 bWAR

TOTAL: 20.5 bWAR

2000: 131 starts

Randy Johnson: 8.1 bWAR

Brian Anderson: 4.1 bWAR

Armando Reynoso: 1.4 bWAR

Todd Stottlemyre: 0.6 bWAR

Omar Daal: - 2.0 bWAR

TOTAL: 12.2 bWAR

1999: 145 starts

Randy Johnson: 9.2 bWAR

Andy Benes: 0.9 bWAR

Omar Daal: 4.7 bWAR

Armando Reynoso: 1.6 bWAR

Brian Anderson: 1.3 bWAR

TOTAL: 17.7 bWAR

1998: 130 starts

Andy Benes: 3.1 bWAR

Brian Anderson: 1.5 bWAR

Willie Blair: - 0.2 bWAR

Omar Daal: 4.2 bWAR

Amaury Telemaco: 0.9 bWAR


TOTAL bWAR: 203.4

The first thing that I noticed when setting up this data, was how bad our pitching has been the last three years. In fact, when analyzing pitchers using this method, we see that the worst three years out of all eighteen by total bWAR are 2015, 2014, and 2013, with 2014 being the worst of all (unsurprisingly). The front office has gone out and signed Zack Greinke and then traded for Shelby Miller who were worth 9.3 and 3.6 bWAR last year respectively. If we replace our two worst starters with Greinke and Miller with last year’s numbers, we would have had a starting five total bWAR of 16.7 bWAR. This total would have been good for sixth best in Dbacks’ history behind 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2008. However, we all know that it is not as simple as just adding last year’s totals for projections this year.

With all of the recent projections that have come out, it looks like most people are pegging Greinke with being worth around 5 WAR this year, with Miller coming around three. Three for Miller is already historically probable, so that much is acceptable. However, some people might be saying "Greinke was worth 9.3 bWAR last year, why would he only be worth 5 next year"? The answer is actually pretty simple. Greinke’s 2015 was epic… In fact, in his 12 major league seasons, he has only exceeded 4.3 bWAR three times. THREE! Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely excited to have Greinke and I think that he will do very well here. But with those three seasons being worth 10.4, 9.3, and 5.3 bWAR, it is easy to see that there are two outlier seasons on his resume. But even if he is "only" worth 5 bWAR this coming year, we could still be in line for over 15 total bWAR from our starting five in 2016.

Now, here is where things get kind of interesting. If we compare Randy Johnson’s first 12 years in the big leagues with Greinke’s, we see some scary similarities. Through Randy’s first 12 seasons, he had a total of 43.5 bWAR, compared to Greinke’s 48.6. Randy was three years older when starting his 13th season, but also got a major contract from the Arizona Diamondbacks. I’m not guaranteeing that Greinke will become the next Randy Johnson, but the track records are similar. Both even won one Cy Young before coming here. If Greinke can provide us with even half of what Johnson gave us, I think that we will be in really, really good shape. Speaking of Johnson, another thing of interest here is the fact that of the 90 individual seasons listed above, Randy had seven of them. Despite only having seven of the 90 aforementioned seasons, Johnson contributed over 25% of the total bWAR! And to further demonstrate how much of our pitching history is tied up in only a few players, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, and Brandon Webb combined to contribute 53.4% of our total bWAR for all starting fives, and in only 16 out of 90 individual seasons to boot!

What are your thoughts about how well our pitching staff will be in 2016?