Fun with small sample sizes: Matt Garza and Bud Norris

Fun with small sample sizes: Matt Garza and Bud Norris

Selective endpoints can be a dangerous thing. If you restrict the field of vision down enough you can trick yourself into seeing dragons where windmills stand. The true proof of a player's performance shows itself over the course of a full season's worth of work, and even then the results can trick you into believing false truths.

It is with this caveat that I revisit a somewhat controversial trade in the Cubs community; the Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers deal. Garza was the best pitcher on the Cubs staff at the time of his departure in spite of his injuries. He never cracked 200 IP as a Cub and he missed the first month of the season with arm issues. He came back and pitched well, putting together a 6-1 record with a 3.17 ERA in 71 innings of work.

This is a restricted view on my part, but a lot of our fans on the Facebook page disliked the move, believing Matt Garza to be an Ace pitcher.

I believe it's safe to say that I was (and am) lower on Garza than most Cubs fans were. The injuries and lack of innings mixed in with bouts of inconsistency cooled me on him overall. I think Garza is a fine pitcher when he's a) healthy and b) on. Those two paths, healthy and on, did not intersect enough for me and I was perfectly fine with how the Cubs handled the trade. They got back some quality players in the trade and if they were so inclined the Cubs could always sign Garza via free agency in 2014.

He was a rental, and the Cubs got back a decent return for a rental.

Since the trade Garza has been an up and down pitcher. Moving from the National to American League will do that to a player as the AL is still the superior league. To illustrate that point let's use selective endpoints and compare him to another pitcher that was traded near the deadline, Bud Norris (in a private conversation with another blogger I made the point that down the stretch Norris and Garza would perform more or less the same with Garza being only slightly ahead).

Let's look at the basic stats:

Garza in Texas: 62.2 IP - 4.31 ERA - 1.16 WHIP - 4.38 K/BB Ratio
Norris in Baltimore: 40 IP - 4.28 ERA - 1.52 WHIP - 2.26 K/BB Ratio

While the ERA has Norris slightly ahead it looks like Garza has been the better pitcher overall by a fairly clear margin. He's also provided the Rangers with an extra 22 innings which should not be overlooked.

These are simply the surface numbers however. The picture maybe a small one but it's important to explore all of the details within their frames.

Garza TEX Cont: 22.2 K% - 6.0 BB% - .285 BABIP - 22 LD% - 3.97 FIP

Norris BAL Cont: 24.4 K% - 10.8 BB% - .343 BABIP - 20.7 LD% - 4.02 FIP

Garza has shown superior control and maintained a good strikeout rate. His BABIP is usually low and his .284 clip is in line with his career numbers. Garza's line drive rate (LD%) is slightly elevated but it's negligible.

Norris has the better strikeout rate but Garza more than makes up for that small gap with control. Norris is a bit BABIP unlucky thus far in Baltimore, his career rate sits at .308. His line drive rate is in line with his career rate of 20.4

When it comes to FIP Garza and Norris are almost identical. Garza is the better pitcher and the Rangers have received an extra 20 innings from him, but looking deeper into the numbers we can see the difference between Matt Garza and Bud Norris is noticeable but it is not overwhelming in Garza's favor.

If we look back at the trade that brought in Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and eventually Neil Ramirez I think all fans can gain a different appreciation for the deal. The Rangers sent a lot of talent back for half a year of a simply above average starter.

A lot can change in this month and the trade has yet to be "won" by either side, but I think it's clear that the trade wasn't the death knell a section of fans thought it was.

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