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Cliff Lee's Dominance

I picked up Cliff Lee in three of my five leagues, as I liked his early K/BB and soft schedule.  I certainly didn't expect for him to go on a run unmatched in at least the last 50 years.  Let's look at the numbers:

31.2 innings
4 starts
7.92 IP/start
0.28 ERA
0.41 WHIP
8.24 K/9
0.57 BB/9
14.5 K/BB
3.13 H/9
.153 BABIP
0.00 HR/9
45.2% groundball rate

Sure, most of it's not sustainable, but let's just marvel in it for a moment. 

OK, let's talk reality.  Lee was nothing special in spring, but won the fifth starter battle.  Last year he posted an ERA over 6.00 amid an abdominal strain, earning a demotion in July.  Lee's career-best K/9: 8.09.  His best walk rate was 2.32.  It's not unfathomable he could combine those career-best rates into one dominant season.

How about the soft schedule?  For that we can use Baseball Prospectus' Opponent's Quality OPS.  That's the aggregate OPS of all batters faced by a pitcher.  Lee's opponents have the 17th-lowest OPS at .694.  By the way, Adam Wainwright has faced the easiest opponents based on this stat.

Obviously Lee can't keep it up, but if you own him you should probably just enjoy the ride.  If you're overflowing with pitching and you're offered a top-30 type hitter, make the trade.  Otherwise, enjoy what should be Lee's career year.




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