Friday, September 19, 2008

Offense as important as pitching in making playoffs

A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the relative importance of offense and defense (pitching/fielding) for getting into the playoffs. I concluded that good defense is somewhat more important than good offense. However, good defense is not absolutely required if you have strong offense.

Today, I'll do the same analysis except that I'll break defense into pitching and fielding. Pitching is measured by Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). FIP is a gauge of how well a pitcher performs in events which he can control without the influence of fielders - home runs, strikeouts, walks and hit batsmen. Fielding will be measured by Defensive Efficiency Ratio(DER). DER is the percentage of times batted balls are turned into outs by the team's fielders, not including home runs. Offense is again defined by runs scored.

As before, each facet of the game is divided into three categories according to how teams rank on the appropriate statistic. Teams which finish in the top third of the league in FIP are classified as good pitching teams. Teams in the middle third are ok pitching teams and teams in the bottom third are bad pitching teams. The same was done for offense and Fielding. It gets a little messy processing all three parts of the game together so I'll present them separately in Tables1, 2 and 3 for the 128 playoff teams between 1988-2007.

Tables 1 and 2 show that offense and pitching are equally important with 61% of playoff teams having good offense and 62% having good pitching. It's important to be at least OK in both categories because only 8% of playoff teams had bad offense and 6% had bad pitching.

Table 3 indicates that fielding is not quite as important as offense and pitching: 46% had good fielding and 25% had bad fielding.

Table 1 - Offensive classification of playoff teams from 1988-2007

Offense

N

%

Good

78

60.9

OK

42

32.8

Bad

8

6.2


Table 2 - Pitching classification of playoff teams from 1988-2007

Pitching

N

%

Good

79

61.7

OK

42

32.8

Bad

7

5.5


Table 3 - Fielding classification of playoff teams from 1988-2007

Fielding

N

%

Good

59

46.1

OK

37

28.9

Bad

32

25.0


Now, let's look at the 38 World Series teams teams between 1988-2007. The data for offense, pitching and fielding are contained in Tables 4, 5 and 6 respectively. Pitching becomes a little more important than offense for World series teams: 74% had good pitching and 60% had good offense. Both are vital as no team with bad pitching or bad offense made the World Series during that period.

Fielding increased in importance for World Series teams as 58% of the teams had good fielding and only 16% had bad fielding.

Overall, I would conclude that offense and pitching are both key components of most winning teams and neither should be emphasized more than the other in building a playoff team. The better pitching teams might have a slight edge in reaching the World Series but the advantage is not striking. Fielding is less important but also can not be ignored.

Table 4 - Offensive classification of World Series teams from 1988-2007

Offense

N

%

Good

23

60.5

OK

15

39.5

Bad

0

0.0


Table 5 - Pitching classification of World Series teams from 1988-2007

Pitching

N

%

Good

28

73.7

OK

8

21.1

Bad

2

5.3


Table 6 - Fielding classification of World Series teams from 1988-2007

Fielding

N

%

Good

22

57.9

OK

10

26.3

Bad

6

15.8

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