Thursday, November 10, 2011

Verlander Saved Lots of Runs in 2011

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Earlier in the week, I ranked American League pitching staffs based on Pitching Runs Saved (PRS).  The PRS statistic is designed to measure the number of runs a pitching staff saved a team compared to an average staff after taking fielding and ballpark factors into account.  It was found that the Tigers were fourth in the American League with 38 PRS in 2011.  

Today, I'm going to do a similar analysis for individual starting pitchers using Tigers ace Justin Verlander as an example.  Verlander had a 2.62 Run Average or RA (same as ERA but runs replaces earned runs)  in 2011.  Table 1 below shows that the Tigers fire baller was second in the AL to Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (2.49).

Table 1: AL Run Average Leaders, 2011

Player
Team
IP
ERA
RA
Jered Weaver
LAA
235.2
2.41
2.49
Justin Verlander
DET
251.0
2.40
2.62
James Shields
TBR
249.1
2.82
3.00
Josh Beckett
BOS
193.0
2.89
3.03
Jeremy Hellickson
TBR
189.0
2.95
3.05
Doug Fister
DET/SEA
216.1
2.83
3.17
CC Sabathia*
NYY
237.1
3.00
3.30
Ricky Romero*
TOR
225.0
2.92
3.40
Dan Haren
LAA
238.1
3.18
3.44
C.J. Wilson*
TEX
223.1
2.94
3.59


Weaver may have led in RA, but Verlander pitched 15 1/3 more innings, so let's give him credit for that.  First, the average AL starter had an RA of 4.60 in 2011.  Based on that, we can estimate that an average starter would have allowed (4.60 x 251)/9 = 128.3 runs in 251 innings.  Verlander allowed 73 runs, so he was 128.3-73 = 55.3 Runs Saved Above Average (RSAA).  Table 2 shows that Verlander now has a small lead over Weaver  (55.2)

Table 2: AL Runs Saved Above Average Leaders, 2011

Player
Team
RSAA
Justin Verlander
DET
55.3
Jered Weaver
LAA
55.2
James Shields
TBR
44.3
Doug Fister
DET/SEA
34.5
CC Sabathia*
NYY
34.2
Josh Beckett
BOS
33.6
Jeremy Hellickson
TBR
32.6
Dan Haren
LAA
30.7
Ricky Romero*
TOR
30.0
C.J. Wilson*
TEX
25.0

Next, we'll take ballpark effects into account.  Comerica Park has a ballpark effect of 1.015 (US Patriot ballpark factors) which means that Tigers pitchers have their runs allowed total inflated by an estimated 1.5% on average. 

It was shown above that the average pitcher in an average park would allow 128.3 runs in 251 IP, so an average pitcher who calls Comerica his home should allow 128.3 x 1.015 = 130.2 runs.  Thus, Comerica Park cost Verlander an estimated 128.3 - 130.2 = -1.9 BallPark Runs (BPR).  So, Verlander had a 55.3 - (-1.9) = 57.2 ballpark adjusted RSAA.  Table 3 illustrates that Verlander now moves ahead of Weaver (53.4)  by almost four runs by virtue of the ballpark adjustment.  

 Table 3: AL Adjusted RSAA Leaders, 2011

Player
Team
RSAA
BPR
Adj. RSAA
Justin Verlander
DET
55.3
-1.9
57.2
Jered Weaver
LAA
55.2
1.8
53.4
James Shields
TBR
44.3
5.0
39.3
Josh Beckett
BOS
33.6
-4.9
38.6
CC Sabathia*
NYY
34.2
-3.7
37.9
Doug Fister
DET/SEA
34.5
2.0
32.5
C.J. Wilson*
TEX
25.0
-5.5
30.5
Ricky Romero*
TOR
30.0
-0.1
30.1
Dan Haren
LAA
30.7
1.9
28.8
Jeremy Hellickson
TBR
32.6
3.8
28.8

Finally, we need to separate pitching from fielding.  In an earlier post, it was estimated that the Tigers fielders cost the team 21 runs.  If we assume that each pitcher was helped equally (probably not the greatest assumption but there aren't enough innings to get reasonable estimates for individuals),  we can distribute these runs across individual pitchers based on innings pitched.

Verlander pitched 17.4% of the Tigers 1,440 innings, so we estimate that his teammates cost him -21 x .174 = -3.7 Fielding Runs (FRS).   Subtracting  BPR and FSR from RSAA yields 55.3 - (-1.9) - (-3.7) = 60.8 PRS. So, Verlander saved the Tigers an estimated 61 runs over an average pitcher pitching the same number of innings.

Table 4 shows that this final adjustment gives Verlander a lead of about 16 runs over runner-up Weaver.  This statistic suggests that Verlander was the best in the league at saving his team runs.  For those who don't trust a statistic involving fielding runs, there is more to come.     

Table 4: AL Pitching Runs Saved Leaders, 2011

Player
Team
IP
RSAA
BPR
FRS
PRS
Justin Verlander
DET
251.0
55.3
-1.9
-3.7
60.8
Jered Weaver
LAA
235.2
55.2
1.8
8.7
44.7
Josh Beckett
BOS
193.0
33.6
-4.9
-0.1
38.7
CC Sabathia*
NYY
237.1
34.2
-3.7
-0.3
38.2
Doug Fister
DET/SEA
216.1
34.5
2.0
-1.1
33.6
James Shields
TBR
249.1
44.3
5.0
10.3
29.0
Ricky Romero*
TOR
225.0
30.0
-0.1
2.5
27.6
Jon Lester*
BOS
191.2
20.7
-4.9
-0.1
25.7
C.J. Wilson*
TEX
223.1
25.0
-5.5
5.3
25.2
Gio Gonzalez*
OAK
202.0
22.2
2.7
-2.4
21.9

Note: Some of the statistics for this post were abstracted from Baseball-Reference.com

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