Double-D Fully Loaded

On November 25, 2006 the Arizona Diamondbacks traded disgruntled catcher Johnny Estrada to the Milwaukee Brewers for starting pitcher Doug Davis. At this time the big name on the free agent market was Oakland Athletics pitcher Barry Zito. Diamondbacks fans were calling into local radio stations in droves begging the DBacks to make a run at Zito to bring him to the desert. Club officials were perfectly content with adding Doug Davis instead. Their confidence was expressed in January 2007 when they signed Davis to an extension that would keep him with the Diamondbacks through 2009. I remember at the time looking at the statistical career numbers comparing Davis and Zito and how surprised I was at how similar they were. I wrote about this in the From “Z” to “D” post on this very blog. With the Diamondbacks playing the San Francisco Giants I thought it might be interesting to look at how the statistics stack up now.

After the game today I went and pulled the statistics from each player and compared them.

Doug Davis 82 85 1449.1 1515 752 694 639 1078 4.31
Barry Zito 123 95 1816.0 1607 850 776 751 1355 3.85

Zito still holds a good margin in wins over Doug Davis but the winning percentage margin is dropping. Zito has thrown more innings and has extended his margin in ERA. Davis is giving up less hits and runs keeping base runners off the base paths. At the time of the Davis trade I honestly thought this was a statistical anomaly and that Zito was the victim of some mathematical sleight of hand. But nearly two years later the statistics comparing these two pitchers are still relatively even.

In today’s game Doug Davis was not facing Barry Zito. That would have been a great story line. Instead Double-D drew the unenviable assignment of facing Tim Lincecum; the reigning Cy Young Award winner and Giants ace. Lincecum had an amazing season last year that resulted in him winning the Cy Young in impressive fashion. I personally still feel like Brandon Webb was the better overall pitcher but outside of Arizona no one wants to listen or agree with that assessment.

For all intents and purposes this game should have been over before it started. Outside of a couple of games the Arizona Diamondbacks look completely anemic. Add to the fact that Lincecum is a strike-out artist cut from the same mold as Randy Johnson and this game had debacle written all over it.

The interesting thing is that in times like this is when the Diamondbacks somehow manage to put together a team effort that makes you stop and take notice and consider how good this team really could be. Over eight innings Doug Davis made a believer of fans in Arizona and San Francisco. Watching him through you could make an argument that it was Davis who was the biggest signing in the class of 2006. Doug matched Lincecum pitch for pitch and over eight innings they battled to a 0-0 tie. Lincecum was masterful striking out 13 Diamondbacks hitters. Davis too was amazing amassing 6 strikeouts of his own.

Given the complete breakdown of offense by the Diamondbacks it looked as though this great pitching performance would be wasted. In the top of the ninth inning the Diamondbacks were able to string together a couple of hits and a walk to push 2 runs across the plate and give Davis his first win of the season. That win is one more than Barry Zito has so far this year and the outing dropped Davis’ ERA to 2.57 nearly 1.5 runs lower than Zito. It was a great pitching performance by Doug Davis and will hopefully propel the Diamondbacks out of the funk they have been in over the first weeks of the season.

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