Cleat Geeks

Sabermetric Sunday BONUS; Do Wins in Baseball Lie to Us?

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I hate wins.seattle116

Wanna know why?

They don’t tell the truth about a pitcher’s true performance.

Yes, they may tell you that their team won so many contests. After you pitched 5 innings of course. Or come in as a reliever. Do I really have to explain what a win is?

A win is when

1. A player pitches at least 5 innings.

2. Their team takes the lead while he is in the game, or during the inning on offense in which he is taken out from the game.

3. His team never loses the lead after he is taken out.

4. And finally, his team wins the game.

5. Or when a relief pitcher comes into pitch in a tied game, and if they give up fewer runs than their team scores, they also qualify to receive a win.

Here’s the big issue – the pitcher, other than their measly couple of at bats a game (unless you’re in the American League in which a DH takes your place and you don’t hit at all), pitchers tend to not contribute and drive in runs for their team.

Unless your Carlos Zambrano or Micah Owings.

 

Moving on, pitchers are, for a lack of a better word, screwed, for their own cause.

If they pitch very well, but their team can’t score very well behind them, then they’ll take a big fat L. For loss.

Which looks terrible on any baseball card, I do tell you. More importantly, teams still value Wins and Losses very high, so even if you pitched considerably well during a season, but you have a bad record, front offices and fans alike hold players accountable.

For example, most recently a pitcher named Felix Hernandez.seatle-mariners-hernandez-perfect-game

In 2010, this man won the American League Cy Young. He had a 2.27 ERA, in 249.2 innings with 232 strike outs. You would think “King Felix” would have at least 20 or so wins, right?

Wrong – he went 13-12 – a record that would be considered barely adequate without looking at his other numbers.

So what metrics in baseball are useful for correctly describing a pitchers performance?

Here’s a couple to chew on –

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) –

This metric is pretty easy to understand, but many different sabermetric companies have their own twist on it.

You take 3 main stats (walks, home runs given up, and strike outs), and divide them into a constant number, to get a more accurate ERA.

Anything under a 4.00 is considered above average, and anything under a 3 is superb.

Right now, baseball’s FIP leaders are –kershaw_mound_1000

1.) Clayton Kershaw at 1.46

2.) Noah Syndergaard at 1.82

3.) Jose Quintana at 2.22

QS (Quality Starts) –

Quality starts has creeped onto the baseball scene. zIt’s quite common to see it in place of the win nowadays.SyndergaardWorldSeries

A quality start is when a pitcher throws 6 or more innings and gives up 3 or less earned runs.

Quite simple, quality starts are an outline of what a pitcher should do in a successful start.

Right Now, league leaders in QSs are –

Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner, J.A. Happ, Chris Sale. Colby Lewis, and Clayton Kershaw all tied with 8.

15 other starters are tied with 7.

BABIP (Batting Average of Baseball’s in Play) –

This is a sabermetric’s attempt to consider the luck in the game of baseball – BABIP measures how many of a pitcher’s batted balls go in play for hits (and vice versa for hitters but we’ll discuss that some other time).

This stat can be looked at just like batting average is.

All this stat shows is whether or not a pitchers batted balls are turning into outs or hits more often – which could tell us whether a pitcher might be getting “lucky outs,” per sae.

Sometimes, pitchers are just so dominant that their BABIP’s are extremely low.

BABIPS that are under .300 are considered to be lucky – getting batters out more than league average is a sign for a regression.

BABIPS that are over .300 are considered to be inflamed – a pitcher is deemed unfortunate – balls seem to fall where fielders aren’t.JakeArrieta

Right now, league leaders in BABIP include –

1.) Chris Sale – .206

2.) Jake Arrieta – .213

3.) Dan Straily – .239

WAR (Wins Above Replacement) – 

Wins Above Replacement for pitchers is based on defense (or fielding) independent pitching and the effect of leverage on relievers.

Wins are expressed relative to the hypothetical “average” replacement player.

Imagine, a Fielding Independent Pitching stat, but that is a plus or minus score that shows how much better you are than the average replacement.

That’s exactly what WAR is. Oh yeah, and that plus or minus score? It refers to how many wins or losses you’re worth to your team.

This is very confusing stat to equate and solidify in concreteness, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference each use a different equation to figure out WAR.

Right now, league leaders for pitcher’s WAR include (according to Baseball-Reference’s WAR) –ChrisSale2

1.) Chris Sale – 3.0

2.) Clayton Kershaw – 2.9

3.) Jake Arrieta – 2.7

 

Well folks, that’s all for this week.

Tune in next week when I discuss how batting average is also a faulty statistic. High batting averages have always been a coveted stat by all.

But that is not the only way a man gets on base, by hits, right?

 

Quote of the week –

“Pitching is 80% of the game and the other half is hitting and fielding.” – Mickey Rivers

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