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Eulogizing The 2007 Mets: Tom Glavine

With each passing day, 2007 is looking more like Tom Glavine's last as a Met. He was the only Met starter to reach 200 innings pitched this year, but the lasting image of Glavine is of the southpaw surrendering seven runs in just a third of an inning on this season's final day. The mighty baseball gods handed the Mets an opportunity to punch their own ticket to the postseason and it was whisked away before thousands of fans could even descend the railway stairs.

For the second time in five years with the Mets Glavine notched an ERA worse than the league average (incidentally, 2003 and 2007 were the only seasons since 1990 in which Glavine accomplished that particular ignominious feat). His 4.45 ERA was the worst on the club for anyone throwing more than 140 innings (a group that included John Maine, Oliver Perez and Orlando Hernandez). Glavine managed to just barely edge out Jorge Sosa and his 4.47 ERA.

To make matters worse, Glavine actually outperformed his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that suggests a variant of ERA without the distortions that luck and defense can introduce). His 2007 FIP was 4.82, his highest since 2003. This is nothing new for Glavine, who has posted an ERA lower than his FIP every season since 1990 and has a career ERA more than a half run (3.51 vs 4.10) lower than his career FIP.

Tommy Tepid's biggest problem this past season was consistency. A nice quick-and-dirty way of breaking down a pitcher's breadth of competency over a period of time is via game scores. Game scores aren't terribly precise, but they give you a snapshot of a pitcher's relative dependability. Here are Glavine's game scores for 2007 broken down into four buckets:

GmSc # Times
<20 5
21-40 3
41-60 17
61-80 9

The bottom two bands on the chart above look good. Twenty-six of Glavine's starts fell in the 41-80 range of game scores, meaning that in 76% of his starts he gave his team a good-to-great chance of winning. I'm willing to forgive the three starts in the 21-40 belt; even Johan Santana is sub-par from time to time, so expecting Glavine's 41-year-old joints and whatnot to be the goods every time out is probably too much to ask.

The top rung (or bottom rung, depending on your vantage) is where things fall apart. Five times this season (15%) Glavine took to the hill and bestowed on his team a vanishingly small opportunity for victory. Amazingly, the Mets' offense managed to get Glavine off the hook in one of those five starts, a 13-9 victory in Los Angeles on July 19.

To put these forgettable five into perspective, in 128 non-Glavine starts this year, Met starters accrued just six total starts of sub-20 game scores. Count 'em out: One each for John Maine, Orlando Hernandez, Jorge Sosa, Mike Pelfrey, Jason Vargas and Dave Williams, and four of those guys can only be considered starters in the most basic sense of the word (that is, they started games, hence they were starters).

Having already declined his $13 million player option to return to the team next year, it seems increasingly unlikely that Tom Glavine will call Flushing his home in 2008. Though a number of teams would be interested in his services, and a return to the Mets isn't completely out of the question, smart money is on the Braves at a hometown discount. If this is the end for Glavine in orange-and-blue, it hasn't been so bad. It ended as poorly as anyone could've written it, but Glavine was very good from 2004-2006 and was, at worst, a league-average innings muncher in 2003 and 2007.