I got my third baseball preview magazine today. I started out with Lindy’s, got Rotowire’s, and today I got Athlon Sports. Athlon Sports is the best one of this year – except for their Red Sox prediction (wild card, do not advance to ALCS). They came up with a new statistic called Consistency Index. What they wrote in the magazine follows. Please pick up your copy of Athlon Sports Baseball Preview Magazine today – you won’t regret it! I included the rankings that they provided, the link is below.

*You send two pitchers out for ten starts apiece. Each gives you 70 innings. Pitcher No. 1 allows earned runs in this sequence: 7, 2, 8, 3, 0, 1, 3, 2, 2, 3. Pitcher No. 2 allows them in this one: 5, 0, 6, 1, 1, 3, 5, 6, 0, 5. Both have compiled ERAs of 4.11. But which of the two would you rather go to war with? *

*Starter #1 offers you the greater comfort zone, and he’s given his team a realistic chance to win eight of his starts. The unpredictability of Starter #2 gives you heartburn before the game even starts; he’s burning to the bullpen early and making winning iffy half the time he goes out there.*

*The riddle exposes the fragility of the ERA as the definitive measure of a pitcher’s worth, since it underrates the imperative factor of consistency. Face it: It’s not much easier to win a game when your starter permits six runs than when he coughs up 16. The latter would deceptively destroy his ERA, but the net effect on success is almost negligible. So in an attempt to measure objectively what we recognize empirically, we have created a number called the Consistency Index (CI). It works like this:*

*A pitcher gets a point every time he allows zero-to-three earned runs in a start – but commencing only with the third successive time he has done this. If he yields four runs, that breaks the string, and he needs to begin a new series of three starts with three or fewer earnies to get points. In the example above, No. 1’s total points would be 5 – one point for each outing beginning with his sixth. No. 2’s would be 1; he tallies only for his 1-1-3 sequence.*

*Below, we charted the points for all pitchers who have started at least 60 games over the last three seasons. Then we divided these points by his number of starts to get his CI. The guys at the top of this list are the ones you want in your foxhole. Those results can be found here.*

This is a great way to objectively view pitchers. There are a couple of weaknesses, but every statistic has one. For example, Derek Lowe’s CI is a little low because he was a reliever in 2001, so he earned only 1 CI for 2001, as compared to 15 in 2002 and 2 (2!) in 2003. Also, rookies get shafted a little, like Vincente Padilla, who could be better than the CI suggests, for he is improving each year (2001 – 0; 2002 – 8; 2003 – 9) and also Colorado’s pitchers just skew the whole thing – but what other stat does Colorado not skew? Also another skewering is Chan Ho Park – a great season but then got injured and pitched horrible the last two seasons. Due to injury? Who knows. Flash in the pan? Possible. Those are some weaknesses, but that does not detract from the strength of the statistic as a whole. Surprise of the year – Jarrod Washburn ranks #3 total! We have to get Washburn. Holy mackerel of the year – Dan Wright’s CI over the last three years is 5.0 – and he had 60 starts! Do NOT draft this person if you are playing fantasy baseball.

the Red Sox rankings. Pedro is #1, Schilling #6, Wakefield #19, Lowe #40. Honorable mention – John Burkett #27!

As for the Yankees rankings… Brown #3, Mussina #50, Vazquez # 56. Honorable mention – Roger Clemens #42.