Tonight, the Phillies face Scott Olsen, a highly-touted rookie for the Marlins. Coming into tonight's game, Olsen has a total of 25.67 major league innings under his belt. Conventional Phillies phan wisdom (not to be confused with any kind of higher intelligence or logical thought process) is that this new guy means trouble.
Conventional Phillies phan wisdom is wrong.
For years now, it's seemed that among phans and the Phillies media, there's been a sense that when the Phillies faced a novice pitcher, the team did horribly. I distinctly remember Trey Hodges owning the Phillies in April 2003, Kevin Correia doing the same in August of that year, and Zach Duke outdueling Brett Myers last July.
Theories why this was possibly so abounded: The Phillies' advance scouts were terrible and never prepared the team well for new guys. Or, the Phillies were made up of a bunch of unemotional automatons who couldn't match the emotion of a new pitcher in the beginning of his career. Or, the franchise is just cursed and all things bad that could possibly happen to it did. You get the point.
But, along with many other perceived inalienable truths about the Phillies specifically and baseball generally, this one just isn't true. And the Good Phight has the data from the past four years to back this assertion up.
Thanks to the Good Phight's tireless research crew of phatj, Don Carman, Alex Falzone, Ace, and j.karnoval, we have sorted through every starting pitcher the Phils have faced since the start of 2002 and found the new pitchers among them. ("New pitcher" was defined as someone who had thrown 50 major league innings or less before the start of that particular season.)
Over the course of the last 4 years, the Phils faced 59 different new pitchers a total of 82 times. Every way you slice the data, the Phils were much better off against new pitchers than experienced ones. Let's take a look:
|Novice Pitchers||Experienced Pitchers|
Against the new guys, the Phils scored more runs (both earned and total), had more baserunners, walked more, struckout less, and hit more home runs. And, in games started by new guys, the Phils won 54.9% of the contests, compared to only 52.2% of games started by experienced pitchers.
It's pretty much the same story if you take out repeat performances by the same new pitcher. Here are the stats for the first time the Phils faced each of the 59 new pitchers in the past four years:
|First-time Novices||Everyone Else|
It's the same story here as with the entire universe of times the Phillies faced a novice pitcher. The only difference is that against the new guys for the first time, the Phils had a slightly lower win percentage than against everyone else - 52.5% compared to 52.6%.
It's plain for anyone looking to see: against new pitchers, the Phillies have been a better hitting and more successful team. Bring 'em on!