Cleat Geeks

Saber-Metrics Sunday: ERA? Flip to FIP

Pitching analysis goes in so many different directions, considering how baseball has evolved to the point where starters and bullpen arms have very specific and essential roles. The infamous win-loss record has for the most part been thrown out the window as an effective tool for pitching evaluation as ERA (earned run average) became a house-hold stat.

It may seem like a flawless stat at first glance; one sees how effective a pitcher is at preventing earned runs being scored by the opponent. However, there is indeed a flaw.

Baseball is a weird game. A pitcher can do his job by getting weak contact, yet allowing a hit. A hitter can crush a mistake on the pitcher’s part, yet the defense makes a great play to record an out. One also has to take into account that defenses are positioned differently in situations based on the batter and/or the amount of baserunners. Last, but not least there is no indication in ERA how a pitcher allows baserunners; is it a lot of hits? Is his BABIP (batting average of balls in play) high? Or is he allowing a lot of walks? Does he rely on strikeouts or defense to record outs?

The results in this can lead to an ERA that is either inflated or assisted, not truly showing how effective a pitcher is at making outs and preventing runs. This is where the statistic known as FIP comes in.

FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), uses a formula that adjusts a pitcher’s ERA to what it should look like. It uses both statistics a pitcher has more command over such as strikeouts, walks and home runs but also uses statistical league averages of balls in play to account for the inconsistency of balls put in play for outs or hits.

Not only does this give a better sense of what a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses are, but it also calculates the value of a pitcher more effectively because of how his personal statistics line up with league averages.

How is FIP calculated? It can be calculated using the following formula:

FIP = [13*HR + 3*(BB+HBP)-2*K/IP]+FIP constant


HR=Home runs

BB= Walks

HBP= Hit by pitch

K= Strikeouts

IP= Innings pitches

FIP Constant= The adjusted ERA for the entire league

As a group the New York have the best ERA in baseball since the All-Star Break.

Here are all the numbers for every pitcher on their staff.



NOTE: The FIP Constant must be calculated first before crunching the numbers to find the pitcher’s overall FIP. The formula to do that is as follows:

FIP Constant =  league ERA – (((13*leagueHR)+(3*(leagueBB+leagueHBP))-(2*leagueK))/leagueIP)


This all may seem overwhelming; however the concept is pretty simple. The formula is broken down using variables that contain a pitcher’s statistics and adds it to an adjusted league average (calculated in the same manner) to create one statistic that adjusts the pitcher’s ERA to a more accurate number of effectiveness.

So before you only judge a pitcher based on ERA, just remember that what you’re seeing is not all there. By looking at FIP you will have a better idea of how effective the pitcher is when facing MLB lineups.


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