Thursday, August 4, 2011

Home Sweet Home

When I snapped this picture of Ryan Vogelsong during spring training, who could have guessed how his 2011 season would play out?

In fact, I cropped the photo to remove the other guy with whom Vogelsong was competing for a chance to go to Fresno and hope for something to go wrong with one of the Giants' starting pitchers. That would have been Jeff Suppan, and Vogelsong outpitched Suppan in the spring, got the Fresno slot, and grabbed a spot in the big club's rotation when Barry Zito got hurt. The All Star Game slot, the 9-1 record, the league-leading ERA...all gravy.

It's the feel-good story of the season, a true riches-to-rags-to-riches story of a guy who was a Giants 1st-round draft choice, ended up in Japan, and gave the big leagues one last shot.

San Francisco fans have responded with full-throated love, cheering Vogelsong with a little extra energy at every opportunity. Vogelsong has responded in kind, tipping his cap to those thunderous ovations and telling interviewers how touched he is by the fans' support.

Which begs the question: is Vogelsong pitching so much better in San Francisco than on the road because of all that support, or is he getting it because he's been so spectacular at home?

The numbers are stark: At home, Vogelsong has a 1.33 ERA. On the road, it's 3.55. The road number isn't shabby, but the AT&T Park stats are crazy-good. The disparity between the two is eye-popping.

By comparison, Tim Lincecum's road numbers are better than his home numbers--but by a narrower margin. Lincecum at home: 3.36 ERA. Away: 2.26.

And Mr. Stoic, Matt Cain? Does it surprise you to learn that Cain's home/away numbers are virtually identical? This year, Cain's ERA at home is 3.11; on the road, 3.09.

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