Mythical Pitching

 

May 27, 2014

 

 

 

Let me start by saying Iím willing to concede that my conclusions about George Springer might be wrong. From the evidence so far heís a much better player than Chris Heisey.That doesnít mean my observations about him were wrong. He still has huge holes in his swing which has led and will continue to lead to a lot of strikeouts: he is third in the majors behind Junior Lake and Mark Reynolds in strikeout rate at 32.7% of his at bats. He also tends to hit under the ball which leads to a lot of pop-ups: his rate is greater than that of BJ Upton. And even though he draws his share of walks, his strikeout/walk rate puts him in the same category as Josh Reddick and Marcel Ozuna as a hitter. But for whatever reason, itís working for him. I canít explain it. Just like I could not explain how Kirk Reuter got hitters out, nor how Jered Weaver continues to do so. Iíve heard all the explanations for their success but anytime those same parameters are applied to a general population, the explanation disintegrates. There are just some players who defy explanation and Springer appears to be one.

 

Speaking of defying explanation, and I hate to do this because no one wants to hear about someone elseís fantasy team, but I seem to have picked the perfect pitching staff for my XFL team. No, not perfect in a good way but perfect in a logic defying way. You see, my pitching staff is at or near the bottom in ERA and WHIP this season, which is a bit amazing since I have Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darivsh and Scott Kazmir on it. Whatís not surprising is that they are second in strikeouts. But in all other aspects they have been terrible. The curious part is that according to metrics like FIP and xFIP and SIERA, they shouldnít be. Drew Hutchinson, Brandon McCarthy, CC Sabathia, and Francisco Liriano have all been victimized by horrible luck. I have all of them. Dan Haren seems to one of the few guys I have who is doing as well as expected.

 

According to xFIP, I should have a team ERA from my starters around 3.24. According to SIERA it should be 3.25 and FIP indicates 3.38. My actual ERA from those guys is 3.82. Add in the strange year from Ernesto Frieri (SIERA of 2.02, xFIP of 2.80, actual ERA of 4.22), and I have the perfect cocktail for a frustrating spring. If either of the first two metrics were my actual ERA, the pitching staff would be in second place in ERA, just tenths of a point out of first. As it stands, however, they are the worst in the league in the category. So the question going forward is this: are these advanced metrics in any way predictive of what the next four months hold, or is this one of those years where reality and statistics donít tell the same story, where what happens on the field just isnít satisfactorily explained by the numbers? Itís still relatively early so sample size is still a mitigating factor and I have to believe that talent and previous performance will eventually reveal itself in this yearís performance. They have a little over four months to prove it.

 

 

Name†††††††††††††††††††††††††† Team††††††††††††††† K/9††††† BB/9††† K/BB††† HR/9††† K%††††† BB%†††† K-BB% AVG††††† WHIP†† BABIP††††††††††† LOB%†† ERA-††† FIP-††††† xFIP-††† ERA††††† FIP†††††† E-F†††††† xFIP†††† SIERA

Jose Fernandez††††††††††††† Marlins††††††††††††† 12.19††† 2.26††††† 5.38††††† 0.70††††† 34.2 %6.3 %††† 27.8 %.188††††† 0.95††††† .271††††† 69.1 %†††††††† 68†††††††† 54†††††††† 56†††††††† 2.44††††† 2.10††††† 0.34††††† 2.15††††† 2.17

Masahiro Tanaka††††††††††† Yankees††††††††††† 10.06††† 1.27††††† 7.90††††† 0.89††††† 28.5 %3.6 %††† 24.9 %.223††††† 0.98††††† .291††††† 83.3 %†††††††† 56†††††††† 67†††††††† 61†††††††† 2.29††††† 2.61††††† -0.32†††† 2.30††††† 2.38

David Price††††††††††††††††††† Rays†††††††††††††††† 9.78††††† 0.93††††† 10.50††† 1.40††††† 26.3 %2.5 %††† 23.8 %.268††††† 1.18††††† .332††††† 68.2 %†††††††† 117†††††† 90†††††††† 70†††††††† 4.42††††† 3.28††††† 1.14††††† 2.64††††† 2.61

Johnny Cueto†††††††††††††††† Reds†††††††††††††††† 9.54††††† 2.09††††† 4.56††††† 0.81††††† 28.4 %6.2 %††† 22.2 %.145††††† 0.74††††† .178††††† 83.3 %†††††††† 51†††††††† 75†††††††† 70†††††††† 1.86††††† 2.88††††† -1.02†††† 2.66††††† 2.63

Stephen Strasburg†††††† Nationals†††††††††† 10.67††† 2.37††††† 4.50††††† 0.66††††† 27.9 %6.2 %††† 21.7 %.261††††† 1.29†††† .357†††† 70.6 %†††††††† 96†††††††† 68†††††††† 70†††††††† 3.42†††† 2.59†††† 0.83†††† 2.65†††† 2.71

Zack Greinke†††††††††††††††† Dodgers††††††††††† 10.03††† 2.16††††† 4.64††††† 1.08††††† 27.4 %5.9 %††† 21.5 %.234††††† 1.13††††† .300††††† 89.2 %†††††††† 59†††††††† 88†††††††† 73†††††††† 2.01††††† 3.15††††† -1.14†††† 2.77††††† 2.76

Corey Kluber†††††††††††††††† Indians††††††††††††† 10.28††† 2.11††††† 4.88††††† 0.50††††† 27.0 %5.5 %††† 21.4 %.259††††† 1.27††††† .350††††† 74.4 %†††††††† 81†††††††† 62†††††††† 72†††††††† 3.10††††† 2.22††††† 0.88††††† 2.70††††† 2.78

Jon Lester††††††††††††††††††††† Red Sox††††††††††† 10.21††† 2.42††††† 4.22††††† 0.67††††† 27.8 %6.6 %††† 21.3 %.239††††† 1.18††††† .322††††† 65.3 %†††††††† 81†††††††† 65†††††††† 74†††††††† 3.36††††† 2.55††††† 0.80††††† 2.81††††† 2.88

Max Scherzer†††††††††††††††† Tigers†††††††††††††† 10.64††† 3.00††††† 3.55††††† 0.82††††† 29.3 %8.3 %††† 21.1 %.218††††† 1.14††††† .296††††† 84.3 %†††††††† 64†††††††† 75†††††††† 80†††††††† 2.59††††† 2.91††††† -0.32†††† 3.05††††† 2.93

Yu Darvish†††††† ††††††††††† Rangers††††††††††† 10.42††† 2.79††††† 3.74††††† 0.44††††† 28.4 %7.6 %††† 20.8 %.214††††† 1.11†††† .297†††† 82.1 %†††††††† 56†††††††† 60†††††††† 84†††††††† 2.35†††† 2.39†††† -0.05††† 3.20†††† 2.99

Madison Bumgarner††††††† Giants†††††††††††††† 10.28††† 2.33††††† 4.41††††† 0.82††††† 26.3 %6.0 %††† 20.4 %.263††††† 1.32††††† .346††††† 74.4 %†††††††† 94†††††††† 79†††††††† 80†††††††† 3.15††††† 2.82††††† 0.33††††† 3.00††††† 2.95

Ian Kennedy††††††††††††††††† Padres††††††††††††† 9.58††††† 2.13††††† 4.50††††† 0.80††††† 26.0 %5.8 %††† 20.2 %.236††††† 1.14††††† .304††††† 73.7 %†††††††† 105†††††† 80†††††††† 78†††††††† 3.59††††† 2.87††††† 0.72††††† 2.93††††† 2.94

Alex Wood†††††††††††††††††††† Braves††††††††††††† 9.35††††† 1.90††††† 4.91††††† 1.04††††† 25.1 %5.1 %††† 20.0 %.271††††† 1.27††††† .343††††† 81.9 %†††††††† 93†††††††† 85†††††††† 76†††††††† 3.29††††† 3.16††††† 0.13††††† 2.89††††† 2.92

Adam Wainwright†††††††††† Cardinals†††††††††† 8.56††††† 1.78††††† 4.81††††† 0.33††††† 25.2 %5.2 %††† 19.9 %.183††††† 0.85††††† .239††††† 83.6 %†††††††† 48†††††††† 61†††††††† 77†††††††† 1.67††††† 2.26††††† -0.59†††† 2.92††††† 2.98

Felix Hernandez†††††††††††† Mariners††††††††††† 8.84††††† 1.67††††† 5.29††††† 0.36††††† 24.3 %4.6 %††† 19.7 %.229††††† 1.06††††† .299††††† 67.3 %†††††††† 69†††††††† 61†††††††† 71†††††††† 2.75††††† 2.28††††† 0.47††††† 2.69††††† 2.76

Michael Wacha†††††††††††††† Cardinals†††††††††† 9.85††††† 2.54††††† 3.88††††† 0.60††††† 26.4 %6.8 %††† 19.6 %.227††††† 1.14††††† .302††††† 80.1 %†††††††† 73†††††††† 75†††††††† 81†††††††† 2.54††††† 2.77††††† -0.23†††† 3.05††††† 3.03

Aaron Harang††††††††††††††† Braves††††††††††††† 9.65††††† 2.72††††† 3.56††††† 0.30††††† 25.9 %7.3 %††† 18.6 %.241††††† 1.22††††† .327††††† 68.8 %†††††††† 94†††††††† 61†††††††† 86†††††††† 3.32††††† 2.29††††† 1.03††††† 3.23††††† 3.19

Phil Hughes††††††††††††††††††† Twins††††††††††††††† 7.79††††† 0.99††††† 7.83††††† 0.66††††† 20.9 %2.7 %††† 18.2 %.271††††† 1.20††††† .329††††† 76.2 %†††††††† 79†††††††† 71†††††††† 93†††††††† 3.15††††† 2.66††††† 0.49††††† 3.55††††† 3.43

Dallas Keuchel†††††††††††††† Astros†††††††††††††† 7.77††††† 1.53††††† 5.08††††† 0.51††††† 22.4 %4.4 %††† 18.0 %.221††††† 0.98††††† .275††††† 76.5 %†††††††† 64†††††††† 71†††††††† 69†††††††† 2.55††††† 2.65††††† -0.10†††† 2.60††††† 2.42

Cliff Lee†††††††††††††††††††††††† Phillies††††††††††††† 8.07††††† 1.19††††† 6.78††††† 0.66††††† 21.1 %3.1 %††† 18.0 %.279††††† 1.28††††† .341††††† 70.0 %†††††††† 88†††††††† 68†††††††† 76†††††††† 3.18††††† 2.61††††† 0.57††††† 2.85††††† 3.05

Yordano Ventura††††††††††† Royals†††††††††††††† 9.22††††† 2.63††††† 3.50††††† 0.99††††† 24.9 %7.1 %††† 17.8 %.221††††† 1.13††††† .274††††† 82.4 %†††††††† 69†††††††† 86†††††††† 80†††††††† 2.80††††† 3.36††††† -0.56†††† 3.05††††† 3.07

Jesse Chavez†††††††††††††††† Athletics††††††††††† 8.85††††† 2.32††††† 3.81††††† 1.16††††† 23.9 %6.3 %††† 17.7 %.227††††† 1.13††††† .272††††† 80.3 %†††††††† 67†††††††† 96†††††††† 81†††††††† 2.61††††† 3.58††††† -0.97†††† 3.10††††† 3.16

Marco Estrada††††††††††††††† Brewers††††††††††† 8.41††††† 2.36††††† 3.56††††† 2.36††††† 23.4 %6.6 %††† 16.8 %.233††††† 1.13††††† .240††††† 88.2 %†††††††† 110†††††† 145†††††† 100†††††† 3.98††††† 5.42††††† -1.44†††† 3.74††††† 3.46

Drew Hutchison†††††††††† Blue Jays†††††††††† 8.85††††† 2.70††††† 3.28††††† 0.75††††† 23.9 %7.3 %††† 16.6 %.232††††† 1.18†††† .293†††† 75.4 %†††††††† 85†††††††† 80†††††††† 93†††††††† 3.88†††† 3.11†††† 0.34†††† 3.55†††† 3.44

Brandon McCarthy†††††† Diamondbacks†† 8.03††††† 1.75††††† 4.58††††† 1.31††††† 21.2 %4.6 %††† 16.5 %.263††††† 1.25†††† .306†††† 64.2 %†††††††† 125†††††† 98†††††††† 76†††††††† 4.87†††† 3.79†††† 0.88†††† 2.87†††† 2.97

 

CC Sabathia††††††††††††††††† Yankees††††††††††† 9.39††††† 1.96††††† 4.80††††† 1.96††††† 23.0 %4.8 %††† 18.2 %.297††††† 1.48†††† .350†††† 70.7 %†††††††† 129†††††† 118†††††† 81†††††††† 5.28†††† 4.70†††† 0.58†††† 3.09†††† 3.05

Dan Haren††††††††††††††††††† Dodgers††††††††††† 6.89††††† 1.58††††† 4.36††††† 0.86††††† 18.1 %4.2 %††† 14.0 %.265††††† 1.24†††† .307†††† 65.2 %†††††††† 92†††††††† 93†††††††† 89†††††††† 3.16†††† 3.33†††† -0.17††† 3.33†††† 3.52

Scott Kazmir††† ††††††††††† Athletics††††††††††† 6.79††††† 1.96††††† 3.46††††† 0.45††††† 19.0 %5.5 %††† 13.5 %.214††††† 1.01†††† .256†††† 76.9 %†††††††† 66†††††††† 83†††††††† 96†††††††† 2.56†††† 3.05†††† -0.48††† 3.68†††† 3.58

Francisco Liriano†††††††† Pirates††††††††††††† 8.90††††† 4.30††††† 2.07††††† 1.07††††† 22.1 %10.7 %11.4 %.256††††† 1.50†††† .314†††† 68.2 %†††††††† 146†††††† 114†††††† 96†††††††† 5.06†††† 4.10†††† 0.96†††† 3.57†††† 3.77