Sunday, September 15, 2013

Another Stat to Make Scherzer and Sanchez Look Good

In earlier posts, I introduced statistics estimating the numbers of runs saved by pitchers from three different angles:
  • Pitching Runs -  Runs Saved Above Average based on innings and runs allowed.
  • Base Runs -  Runs Saved Above Average based on batters faced and hits, walks, total bases and home runs allowed.
In this post, I'm adding a fourth perspective based on the increasingly popular Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) statistic.  I'm going to calculate FIP Runs which is similar to Pitching Runs except it uses FIP instead of ERA (or RA).  The FIP Runs metric is also like Fan Graphs WAR except it is in runs instead of  wins and uses average instead of replacement as the baseline.  

Using Tigers right hander Max Scherzer as an example, FIP Runs is calculated as follows:
  • Scherzer has a FIP ERA of 2.68 in 201 1/3 innings.  I want to use the runs scale instead of earned runs, so I divide by .92 (about 92% of runs are earned):  2.68/.92 = 2.91 FIP RA .
  • The Park Factor for Comerica is 1.02 (pitching in Detroit inflates runs allowed by an average 2% for a pitcher pitching half his games there).  So, 2.91/1.02 = 2.85.
  • Convert FIP RA to Runs allowed = (2.85/9) x 201.33 IP = 63.8.
  • The average pitcher has a FIP ERA of 4.01 which translates to a FIP RA of 4.36.
  • Convert FIP RA to runs allowed in 201 1/3 IP for the average pitcher = (4.36/9) x 201.33 = 97.5
  • Calculate FIP Runs as the difference between steps 3 and 5 above: 97.5 - 63.8 = 33.7.  So, based on his innings, walks, hit batsmen, strikeouts and home runs, Scherzer has saved an estimated 33.7 runs compared to the average pitcher.
Table 1 below shows that Scherzer leads the American League in FIP Runs by a small margin over Felix Hernandez of the Mariners (33.3). The Tigers do amazingly well on this metric with four pitchers in the top ten including Anibal Sanchez (31.7), Doug Fister (18.1) and Justin Verlander (16.0).

So, according to this statistic, not only do the Tigers have two strong Cy Young candidates in Scherzer and Sanchez, but they have one of the best rotations in baseball in recent history.  I will be updating FIP Runs and the other three statistics mentioned above between the end of the season and the AL Cy Young Award voting.

Table 1: American League FIP Runs Leaders

Pitcher
Team
IP
FIP
FIP Runs
Max Scherzer
Tigers
201.1
2.68
33.7
Felix Hernandez
Mariners
194.1
2.59
33.3
Anibal Sanchez
Tigers
165.2
2.47
31.7
Yu Darvish
Rangers
193.2
3.18
23.6
Chris Sale
White Sox
201.1
3.24
21.7
Doug Fister
Tigers
193.2
3.30
18.1
Justin Verlander
Tigers
199.1
3.41
16.0
Derek Holland
Rangers
193.1
3.53
15.9
David Price
Rays
165.2
3.10
14.9
Bartolo Colon
Athletics
178.1
3.24
14.4
Hiroki Kuroda
Yankees
189.2
3.49
14.2
Jon Lester
Red Sox
201.1
3.61
13.9
James Shields
Royals
207.2
3.54
13.5
Justin Masterson
Indians
189.1
3.40
10.7
Hisashi Iwakuma
Mariners
203.2
3.58
10.6

Data Source: FanGraphs.com

4 comments:

  1. Hi Lee: Kind of strange to see JV listed number four amongst Tigers starters, but I guess that just shows what a good rotation they have. For a while it looked like the Tigers were on pace to have the best 1-5 starting rotation *ever* in baseball. They've since come down to earth somewhat and are merely very, very good. Anyhow, if it was up to me Max Scherzer would get the Cy Young no doubt. But what does he have to do to get win number 20? Cheers, Kevin

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  3. Kevin, as I'm sure you know, FIP is limited in that it doesn't take hits into account. The question is whether Verlander's BABIP is up this year due to luck or because he's being hit harder. I would guess it's a combination of the two. He does not rank as high on the earlier measures I talked about. After the season is over, I'm going calculate all four stats again ans put them side by side for all the top pitchers.

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  4. Interesting that just one Bosox starter is on this, and only one A's starter, all behind our top four.. And yet I would favor either of those teams against our guys. When I look at the teams in my lifetime that had really impressive, deep rotations--the Orioles of '69-'71, and the Braves for most of the 90s, for example--I see teams that lost more than their share of World Series. I don't know why that is, but it would be interesting to go beyond my anecdotal evidence and see how often the really great starting rotations win the Series.

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