Saturday, February 8, 2014

Saber-Series: Part 3--Pitching

On to my personal favorite, analyzing pitchers performance and possible future performance really gets my goat. It just so happens that it could be one of the more complex areas to look at it but I will guide you through. Unlike Part 1 and 2, pitching is unique because many of the stats used to evaluate pitchers come along with other stats that could help predict future performance. This is particularly intriguing during the off-season when fan optimism is at its peak. Let's get to work, shall we.

WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched): WHIP is much more mainstream in terms of pitching statistics but I want to make sure its included. Its only goal is to determine how many base runners a pitcher lets up and it does this by combining the hits and walks a pitcher allows and divides this by their innings pitched. 
Above Average1.25
Below Average1.40
This chart provided courtesy of FanGraphs shows the range of WHIP's although I would have to say the average seems a bit high here and probably falls closer to 1.15-1.25.

FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching): This stat is my favorite in this category and is widely used in the saber community. When analyzed correctly FIP does more to predict future performance. FIP, in the simplest terms is put into an ERA format and attempts to quantify what a pitcher SHOULD have done based on league average defense. Studies have shown that pitchers do not have very much control over balls in play so this stat was created to show how the pitcher should of performed based on the things they CAN control like strikeouts, hits, HBP and home runs. 
Above Average3.75
Below Average4.20

K/9 (Strikeouts per 9 Innings): This is pretty self explanatory but shouldn't be underrated. K/9 measures a pitchers strikeout totals and is a great tool to look at when evaluating a pitcher. Pitchers with higher K/9's usually have lower BABIP's because the hitters don't make as much contact.
Above Average7.520.0%
Below Average6.015.0%

BABIP (Batting Avg. On Balls In Play): I discussed this in Part 1--Offense but if you read it you would of seen that I said this stat is often  utilized when evaluating pitchers. BABIP will reveal how hard a pitcher gets hit and how much contact they make although luck and defense plays a big role in the number. It is not always reliable to look at a pitchers BABIP due to these reasons but it is still a solid stat. An average BABIP is about .290-.300 and if you see a pitcher with a BABIP that radically deviates from this expect a regression from them.

BB/9 (Walk Per 9): Like K/9 this is pretty easy to calculate, this is the number of batters faced that ended up in walks.
Above Average2.87.0%
Below Average4.09.0%
GB% (Ground Ball Rate): The number of hits that result in ground balls. Ground ball pitchers typically have lower BABIP's because ground balls typically result in more outs. Fan Graphs puts league average at around 44% for GB% and anything over 50% is considered above average.

FB% (Fly Ball Rate): The number of hits that result in fly balls. Pitchers with high FB rates tend to give up more long balls and have higher ERA's in hitter friendly parks. League average sits around 35%. Along with GB% these two stats are nice indicators of performance, specifically in certain ball parks.

LOB% (Left on Base Percentage): This looks out how many batters a pitcher strands on the bases over the course of the season. This number does not fluctuate much and most pitchers sit in the area of 70-72% LOB% and if you do see a deviation of significance then you can expect a regression or improvement.

O-Swing%: This stat measures how many pitchers a batter swings out outside the zone. This is a true talent for pitchers and average sits around 30%.

FRA (Fair Run Average--Exclusive to BP): FRA is BP's version of FIP but the philosophy behind its calculation is different. FRA also takes into account a pitchers HBP totals and gives credit to pitchers for good pitch sequencing who work their way out of jams or tough AB's. Excellent - Clayton Kershaw 2.90
Great - Brandon McCarthy 3.42
Average - Ivan Nova 4.36
Poor - Brett Cecil 5.14
Horrendous - Jake Arrieta 5.88
(Based on 2011 season)

OBP: OBP for pitchers is just the OBP allowed.

Continue to take notes and enjoy the info! Just a friendly reminder, I STRONGLY encourage you to respond with comments whether they be compliments or criticism. Ask questions and get a conversation going that is the purpose of this! Until next time- TC

All stats, charts and some dialogue provided courtesy of Fan Graphs and Baseball Prospectus.


  1. HOMER BAILEY :.....Cincinnati Reds Pitcher.....Revisited :
    Bailey is a favorite of mine. I've pushed for him, 3 or 4 times, over this winter.
    He is a very good pitcher, who has not yet reached his ceiling.
    So why bring him back up again ?.........In his arbitration process with the Reds, they are $3 million apart.
    Something like 8 1/2 vs 11 1/2 million apart.
    And, he will be a free agent at the end of the year. He, and the Reds can not come together.
    Let's try to help the Reds out.
    At least give it your best shot. Perhaps a three team trade, if it's not a perfect fit. But try !!

    Try these shoes on sir. How do they fit ?
    a) ....Sabathia
    c) ....Bailey
    d) ....Tanaka
    e) ....Nova

    Yes sir, Mr. Rosenbaum....these shoes fit fine. Splendid, actually !..See you in October.

  2. Tommy Culkin....Yes, I have attended all three classes...I can not thank you enough.
    I needed this information, and I had never found the time to secure it.
    Rocket Reed was drawing pictures during your class....I saw him !

  3. BABIP is one stat, and I meant to post this on the last post and never got around to it, that I never understood or gave any respect to.

    I know this is pitching but I cannot fathom inside my head why the stat is here, it doesn't show "luck" or any of those things. Sure it shows your ability to hit it where they ain't but how much of that is really skill or luck? I just don't get it and I really don't use it.


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)