With the Reds stated pursuit of starting pitching for the top of the rotation this off season and the recent acquisition of Mat Latos, there has been lots of discussion in regard to the slotting of pitchers in the starting rotation. Many like to tag starting pitchers as being a #1, #2, #3, #4, or #5 starter to describe their level of ability as a starting pitcher. The trouble is, most really don’t have a clear understanding what a pitcher in each of those rotation slots really looks like. I’ve devised a method of defining what a pitcher in each of these rotation slots looks like that may hopefully clear up some confusion in future discussions of starting pitchers and the rotation slots that they are capable of filling.

This is the method I used to define starting pitcher rotation slots. I first extracted all of the starting pitching statistics for the 2011 season. I then sorted the data for all pitchers in each league by ERA and then by XERA. Then, for each league, beginning at the top of the list, I totaled up enough IP to account for a #1 SP for each team in the league. I totaled the statistics for these pitchers and divided by the number of teams in the league to come up with the average #1 SP for the league. I repeated this process with the remaining pitchers for each of the remaining rotation slots, #2 – #5. I determined the number of innings pitched for each rotation slot, trying to come as close to the following as I could.

Slot IP
#1 220
#2 210
#3 200
#4 190
#5 The Rest

Continue reading to see the data for the 2011 season.

Here is the data for the 2011 season.

2011 ERA Rotation Slots

AL ERA Rot. Slots  W  L  ERA GS  IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP XERA
Avg AL #1 SP      15  9 2.90 33 222 188  79  72 19 61 187 1.12 3.03
Avg AL #2 SP      13 11 3.57 33 206 192  90  82 20 63 159 1.24 3.68
Avg AL #3 SP      12 12 4.25 32 199 205 103  94 24 56 141 1.31 4.30
Avg AL #4 SP      10 13 4.80 33 188 203 109 100 22 66 126 1.43 4.73
Avg AL #5 SP       8 14 6.03 32 167 202 121 112 26 64 108 1.59 5.83
Avg. AL SP        12 12 4.21 32 196 198 100  92 22 62 144 1.32 4.22

Rotation Slots ERA Range
AL #1 Starters 3.32 and under
AL #2 Starters 3.33 - 3.92
AL #3 Starters 3.93 - 4.45
AL #4 Starters 4.46 - 5.14
AL #5 Starters 5.15 and over

NL ERA Rot. Slots  W  L	 ERA GS    IP   H   R ER HR BB  SO WHIP XERA
Avg NL #1 SP      15 10	2.77 35	224.5 193  77 69 17 59 186 1.12 2.85
Avg NL #2 SP      13 11	3.51 34	210.6 200  92 82 21 62 170 1.24 3.59
Avg NL #3 SP      12 12	3.88 35	203.8 202  96 88 23 68 153 1.32 4.01
Avg NL #4 SP      10 12	4.55 32	187.9 201 103 95 22 63 137 1.41 4.46
Avg NL #5 SP       6 12	5.64 27	145.0 167  96 91 22 58  98 1.55 5.36
Avg. NL SP        11 11	3.94 32	194.3 193  93 85 21 62 149 1.31 3.94

Rotation Slots ERA Range
NL #1 Starters 3.29 and under
NL #2 Starters 3.30 - 3.67
NL #3 Starters 3.68 - 4.21
NL #4 Starters 4.22 - 4.82
NL #5 Starters 4.83 and over


2011 XERA Rotation Slots

AL XERA Rot. Slots  W  L  ERA GS  IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP XERA
Avg AL #1 SP       15 10 3.03 34 224 184  83  75 20 59 184 1.08 2.93
Avg AL #2 SP       14 10 3.67 33 210 196  94  86 20 66 172 1.25 3.69
Avg AL #3 SP       12 12 4.18 33 201 207 102  93 21 63 143 1.34 4.27
Avg AL #4 SP       10 13 4.82 32 190 207 112 102 25 60 126 1.40 4.78
Avg AL #5 SP        7 13 5.92 30 157 198 112 103 24 61  95 1.65 6.06
Avg. AL SP         12 12 4.21 32 196 198 100  92 22 62 144 1.32 4.22

Rotation Slots XERA Range
AL #1 Starters 3.37 and under
AL #2 Starters 3.38 - 4.05
AL #3 Starters 4.06 - 4.46
AL #4 Starters 4.47 - 5.34
AL #5 Starters 5.35 and over

NL XERA Rot. Slots  W  L  ERA GS    IP   H   R ER HR BB  SO WHIP XERA
Avg NL #1 SP       16 10 2.90 35 225.3 190  79 73 16 60 197 1.11 2.73
Avg NL #2 SP       13 12 3.51 35 215.7 202  93 84 22 63 177 1.23 3.55
Avg NL #3 SP       12 12 3.89 34 202.4 204  97 87 21 68 145 1.34 4.06
Avg NL #4 SP       10 13 4.57 33 191.9 208 106 97 22 66 133 1.42 4.53
Avg NL #5 SP        6 11 5.51 25 136.4 160  89 84 22 53  92 1.56 5.54
Avg. NL SP         11 11 3.94 32 194.3 193  93 85 21 62 149 1.31 3.94

Rotation Slots XERA Range
NL #1 Starters 3.30 and under
NL #2 Starters 3.31 - 3.75
NL #3 Starters 3.76 - 4.27
NL #4 Starters 4.28 - 4.74
NL #5 Starters 4.75 and over

Here is how each of the Reds starters from last season fared. I’ve also included Mat Latos, who the Reds added to the rotation over the winter.

Reds SP ERA

NL #1 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Cueto, J    CIN  9  5  2.31 24 156.0 123  51  40  8 47 104 1.09  2.39

NL #2 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Latos, M     SD  9 14  3.47 31 194.3 168  82  75 16 62 185 1.18  3.07

NL #3 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Leake, M    CIN 12  8  3.86 26 165.7 156  73  71 23 36 117 1.16  3.71

NL #4 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Bailey, H   CIN  9  7  4.43 22 132.0 136  68  65 18 33 106 1.28  4.22
LeCure, S   CIN  0  1  4.79  4  20.7  19  12  11  4  5  19 1.16  4.10

NL #5 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Willis, D   CIN  1  6  5.00 13  75.7  78  42  42  6 37  57 1.52  4.35
Arroyo, B   CIN  9 12  5.07 32 199.0 227 119 112 46 45 108 1.37  5.56
Wood, T     CIN  5  6  5.08 18 101.0 117  57  57 10 38  69 1.53  4.90
Volquez, E  CIN  5  7  5.71 20 108.7 106  72  69 19 65 104 1.57  5.13
Reineke, C  CIN  0  1  7.11  1   6.3   5   6   5  2  5   2 1.58  5.90
Maloney, M  CIN  0  2 22.09  2   3.7  17  10   9  2  1   1 4.91 26.42


Reds SP XERA

NL #1 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Cueto, J    CIN  9  5  2.31 24 156.0 123  51  40  8 47 104 1.09  2.39
Latos, M     SD  9 14  3.47 31 194.3 168  82  75 16 62 185 1.18  3.07

NL #2 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Leake, M    CIN 12  8  3.86 26 165.7 156  73  71 23 36 117 1.16  3.71

NL #3 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
LeCure, S   CIN  0  1  4.79  4  20.7  19  12  11  4  5  19 1.16  4.10
Bailey, H   CIN  9  7  4.43 22 132.0 136  68  65 18 33 106 1.28  4.22

NL #4 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Willis, D   CIN  1  6  5.00 13  75.7  78  42  42  6 37  57 1.52  4.35

NL #5 SP   Team  W  L   ERA GS    IP   H   R  ER HR BB  SO WHIP  XERA
Wood, T     CIN  5  6  5.08 18 101.0 117  57  57 10 38  69 1.53  4.90
Volquez, E  CIN  5  7  5.71 20 108.7 106  72  69 19 65 104 1.57  5.13
Arroyo, B   CIN  9 12  5.07 32 199.0 227 119 112 46 45 108 1.37  5.56
Reineke, C  CIN  0  1  7.11  1   6.3   5   6   5  2  5   2 1.58  5.90
Maloney, M  CIN  0  2 22.09  2   3.7  17  10   9  2  1   1 4.91 26.42

It’s pretty clear from the numbers above that Mat Latos is a big addition to the top of the starting rotation. The ERA rankings above listed him as a #2 starter, whereas the XERA data list him as a #1 starter due to his strong peripheral numbers.

I hope you find these rotation slot definitions informative and maybe they’ll help put some people on common ground in future discussions of starting pitchers.