February 27, 2015

Phillies Top 20 Individual Seasons,#16:
Brad Lidge, 2008

I’ve already gotten started on 2 of the 3 off-season features on ReclinerGM – the all-time tournament, and the top-20 prospects. The third is a continuation of a project I started earlier this season, rankings the top-20 individual seasons in Phillies history. We continue on with #16, Brad Lidge in 2008.

Lidge 2008

Stats and Ranks

Lidge 2008 Stats

*65+ IP Required

Some Interesting Stats and Facts

  • 11.94 K/9 is the highest rate in Phillies history among pitchers with 60+ IP
  • Gave up 0 runs in 62 of his 72 appearances
  • Did not blow a save the entire season, including the post-season (48 total saves)
  • Lowest ERA among relievers in the NL with 65+ IP (1.95)
  • One of 9 pitchers in MLB history to have a sub-2 ERA, 40+ saves and 90+ strikeouts in a season
  • Finished 4th in the Cy Young voting and 8th in the MVP voting despite throwing only 69.1 innings
  • On July 25th against Atlanta, Lidge gave up 5 runs in 0 IP. In his other 71 appearances, he had a 1.30 ERA.
  • Right handed hitters had only 12 hits against Lidge the entire season, for a .105 average

Why He’s Here

It’s very strange to write this post now, after a 2009 where Lidge had one of the worst seasons by any reliever, on any team, in MLB history, but this exercise isn’t about a career, it’s about one season in a vacuum.

Lidge’s 2008 was the best season of any Phillies reliever in team history. He was the 5th Phillies closer to record 40+ saves. He had the 5th lowest ERA of a Phillies reliever with 65+ IP since 1920. He had the most strikeouts by a Phillies reliever since Jeff Parrett’s 98 in 1989 (he needed 106 IP). As already mentioned, he had the best K/9 rate in team history.

But as we all know, what set this season apart from all the others was that it was indeed perfect. In a sport that is dominated by failure, Brad Lidge saved 41 games without blowing one, he won 2 games without losing one, and in the playoffs, he saved seven games, without blowing one, or even giving up a single run in the NLCS or World Series.

Previous ‘Top-20 Seasons’ Entries

17.  Chris Short, 1964
18.  John Denny, 1983
19.  Tug McGraw, 1980
20.  Greg Luzinski, 1977
21.  Gavvy Cravath, 1913
22.  Lenny Dykstra, 1993

Five pitchers that just missed (and criteria for rankings)

Five hitters that just missed

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  1. Ken Bland says:

    Right handed hitters had only 12 hits against Lidge the entire season, for a .105 average>>

    That means he got about 90 right hand hitters out.  That is one fine ratio.  Reminds me Ichiro Suzuki’s first year over here.  At the all star break, he had swung and missed at 7 pitches all season.

  2. bski says:

    It goes without saying that we need Lidge to be a lot closer to his 2008 self than to his 2009 self over the next 2 years.
    Gotta hope that his miserable 2009 was predominantly the result of physical problems (knee) that have been corrected and injuries (loose bodies in elbow & flexor tendon) that off-season surgery will repair, and that it will not take him too long to get back into shape, to find his delivery, and to once again be “lights out”.

  3. jjg says:

    “Perfect” ’08 Lidge (4th in CY voting) is bested by ’83 Al Holland (6th in CY voting) in a number of categories:

    BL  72 g/41 s/2-0 w-l/ 1.95 era/ 69.1ip/ 50 h/ 17 r/ 35 bb/ 92 k/ h/9 6.5/whip 1.226
    AH 68 g/25 s/8-4 w-l/ 2.26 era/ 91 ip/ 63 h/ 26 r/ 30 bb/100 k/ h/9 6.2/whip 1.015 

    Personally, I had more confidence in peak Holland than peak Lidge (numbers are incontestable and indicate merit, but lady luck was on Lidge’s shoulder in ’08 too … many ‘hair of chinny chin chin’ resolutions.              

  4. Pete says:

    all good points jjg, but one other category you didn’t mention is ERA+, which factors in both the era of play and the ballparks.

    Lidge’s ERA+ : 225 (4th best in Phillies history)

    Holland’s ERA +: 159 (29th best in Phillies history)

    By comparison, the Phillies leader in ERA+ this season was JA Happ, at 145.

  5. jjg says:

    Pete, I don’t comprehend the finer logic behind ERA+ number, therefore, it lacks a certain credibilty with me and I retain skepticism as to its measuring of performance integrity.  I appreciate your offering of the details regarding the 3 pitchers though.  
    Two questions ERA+ spurs immediately are, by what objective basis are ballparks compared beyond plate to wall dimensions and wall height? and how does a save in spacious Citi Field differ in value from one in spacious Petco Park or cozy CBP or unpredictable Wrigley?  Seems as though the number of variables in applying stadium sites to comparitive performance measure – including weather conditions, attendance, game import, time of day, which inning(s) pitched, batter visual backdrop, row or section distance between wife and regional paramour, et al. - would thin the formulated number’s reliabilty some.          

  6. Pete says:

    The basic idea behind ERA+ is that a 3.00 ERA by a pitcher in Coors Field during the steroid era is not the same as a 3.oo ERA by a pitcher in a pitchers park during the dead ball era.

    ballpark factor has nothing to do with the size of the field, just the runs scored there (which many times, obviously, is influenced by field size). Here is the formula commonly used for “Park Factor.”

    There is another part to the ERA+ formula which is how many runs were scored during a certain year vs. other years. Obviously there is more sophistication to that as well.

    This is a decent explanation of the ERA+ stat

  7. jjg says:

    Thanks for primer, Pete.  Don’t have time to digest all facets but looks interesting.

  8. GARGS says:

    Only 14th best?  It’s gotta be better than that!


  1. [...]  Curt Schilling, 1997 15.  Lefty O’Doul, 1929 16.  Brad Lidge, 2008 17.  Chris Short, 1964 18.  John Denny, 1983 19.  Tug McGraw, 1980 20.  Greg Luzinski, 1977 21. [...]

  2. [...] ’08 Brad Lidge on his knees. Some dipsiht on a street light in the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia. WE WON.  [...]