On April 26th I wrote an article about why there was nothing wrong with Ryan Dempster despite his 7+ ERA. This was an article that I took a little heat for two days later after Dempster had the worst start of his career. Considering that I looked at the available information and compared it to league norms or his career level, I didn’t really care. I wasn’t making an opinion one way or the other. It was simply an article that painted a picture of what was most likely to happen going forward.
Not too surprisingly, Ryan Dempster has been his typical self since that article. Since the beginning of May, Dempster has thrown 75.1 innings and allowed a 3.11 ERA. He’s allowed only 5 home runs, walked 21 and struckout 69, which is good for a 2.96 FIP. He’s not just been his typical self, he’s been better. His xFIP still remains the best it’s been in his career as a starter as he’s been unlucky with the home run ball, but not nearly as unlucky as he was two months ago.
This post isn’t an I-told-yo-so post. It’s an example of why we need to be careful about drawing conclusions with small samples. It’s also an example of why we need to look much further than runs allowed and why that’s especially true in small samples. The signs of Dempster pitching as well as he had in the past were there. There weren’t any obvious signs of decline and everything pointed him to being the same pitcher he had been since 2008.
It’s just so easy for fans to draw unnecessary conclusions (myself included). Dempster didn’t pitch well in April, but much of it was bad luck. Whether that was bad luck due to the location of his pitches or something else isn’t something we know. We just know that based on his past and the league trends that he was highly unlikely to continue being as bad as he was. Pitchers that bad don’t pitch in Major League Baseball and most of his other stats were in line with the rest of his career.