Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bonderman Among FIP Leaders Again

In past posts, I have talked about Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP or FIP ERA) which is a measure of how well a pitcher performs in events which he can control without the influence of fielders - home runs, strikeouts, walks and hit batsmen, The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor added to make it equivalent to a real ERA. While real ERA is affected by fielding, FIP gives you an idea of how well a pitcher performed regardless of how much fielding support he received. FIP was invented by Tangotiger.

The Table below indicates how Tigers starters rank among 45 American League starters with 60 or more innings pitched so far this year. The data were extracted from the Hardball Times site. In this table, ERA represents the pitcher’s actual ERA. FIP represents the pitcher’s equivalent ERA based on fielding independent statistics. DER is the Defensive Efficiency Ratio (proportion of balls in play converted into outs) of the team when the given pitcher is on the mound. FIP-ERA is the difference between the pitcher’s FIP and ERA. It tells how much the actual ERA is being helped or hurt by non-FIP factors. A negative number indicates that the pitcher probably is probably pitching better than his actual ERA. A positive number says that he is probably pitching worse than his actual ERA. LOB% is the percentage of runners put on base which have been left stranded.

The table shows that Jeremy Bonderman is second in the league in FIP at 3.06. Last year, he finished in second behind Johan Santana. Since FIP tends to be a better indicator of future success than ERA, this bodes well for Bonderman. While Justin Verlander ranks 10th in ERA (3.12), he is 25th with a FIP of4.25. This tells us that he may not be pitching as well as his real ERA indicates. He is not doing particularly well in the FIP components - 28th in BB, 17th in home runs and 17th in strikeouts. He is 10th in DER which indicates he is probably getting above average fielding support. He is also 7th in LOB%. LOB% is largely although not entirely based on luck. In his case, I do get the sense that he dials it up with men on base. He ranked second in the league in that category last year as well so there may be some skill involved here. Still, his ERA will go likely go up somewhat if he does not improve his FIP components.

The rest of the Tigers starters are near the bottom of the league in FIP. Nate Robetrtson is 38th in the league with a 5.06 FIP and is now on the disabled list with a "tired arm". Chad Durbin has pitched better since his slow start but is 43rd in the league overall at 5.87. His 4.59 ERA seems to be largely a product of his very high DER (5th in the league). Mike Maroth is last in the league with a 6.85 FIP and only his 78.0 LOB% keeps his ERA at 5.29. He did very well in that category last year as well but not so well in previous years so I suspect it is random fluctuation.

In conclusion, the Tiger starters beyond Bonderman and Verlander are struggling this year. The return of Kenny Rogers near the end of the month should help. Even if he is not the same as last year, he should be an improvement over whomever he replaces in the rotation. A return of Robertson to his old form would also help although it's not clear what his problem is right now. The quick development of Andrew Miller would also be a plus.

Table: FIP for Tiger Starters (June 8, 2007)

Rank

pitcher

IP

ERA

FIP

DER

FIP-ERA

LOB%

2

Bonderman

66

3.26

3.06

.715

-0.21

71.0

25

Verlander

75

3.12

4.25

.738

1.13

78.7

38

Robertson

65.7

5.07

5.06

.668

-0.02

72.6

43

Durbin

68.7

4.59

5.87

.745

1.24

75.4

45

Maroth

66.3

5.29

6.85

.705

1.56

78.0

3 comments:

  1. This is starting to become a pattern for Bonderman, though. Seems tied to his tendency to struggle in the 1st inning. Instead of spreading out hits/walks, he bunches them in the first inning--leading to the higher-than-projected ERA.

    I have a bad feeling about what the next few weeks hold for Maroth; I think he could be the odd man out pretty soon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kyle, I think you are right that the first inning has something to do with his higher than projected ERA. However, there is another important trend. As the table below shows, both his FIP and ERA have improved each year.

    Also, as you read the table you might notice one more trend: His FIP in one year has done a remarkable job of predicting ERA the following year. A fluke? Perhaps but still worth watching.

    Year FIP ERA
    2003 4.88 5.56
    2004 4.29 4.89
    2005 3.92 4.57
    2006 3.31 4.08
    2007 2.96 3.63

    ReplyDelete
  3. Also, the gap between his FIP and ERA is remarkably consistent--almost exactly 0.70 each year. Could be the first inning thing? Don't know if that can be easily quantified.

    ReplyDelete

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