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Friday, February 24, 2012

Einfeldt: A Pitcher’s MVS (Most Valuable Stat)

Baseball can be compared to boxing; it is a constant one-on-one slugfest between the pitcher and batter.  They trade jabs, crosses, and then a batter might hook one out to left field.  The constant struggle between these players makes me wonder what the true value of a pitcher is.  He is the one who makes the initial move in this fight.  However, what makes a pitcher great?  How are pitchers valued in MLB?  While consistency is important, what single statistic can explain how teams value a pitcher?

...This data shows that the WHIP is the most important factor in determining a player’s salary.  A player’s ERA is excluded in these models, because it is so highly correlated to WHIP and this creates a problem of almost two identical terms.  I ran the regression with ERA instead of WHIP, because ERA was never as significant as WHIP is in the Full Regression.  One can use these numbers to determine a pitcher’s salary depending how well he does.  All the other statistics are, relatively speaking, considered insignificant, so it does not matter as much about any statistic other than WHIP.  It makes sense, because some of these terms are influential to WHIP (as a strikeout, for example, would help contribute to a lower WHIP).

In conclusion, teams care about the pitcher’s ability to limit base runners.  It is not necessarily the amount of runs, which may seem against common logic.  I was limited in my search due to the lack of information of salaries on certain players.  There are definitely intangibles that a player can offer his team, but a General Manager would best find a pitcher with the lowest WHIP to maximize the efficiency (win percentage) of their ball club.  That is what the data proves.

Thanks to Pete.

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2012 at 09:35 AM | 3 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Skloot Insurance Posted: February 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4067877)
I am a proponent of WHIP as a quick-and-dirty measure of pitcher effectiveness. When you think about it, WHIP essentially measures on-base percentage for pitchers -- off-base percentage, if you will. Now, why aren't HBPs factored into WHIP, I've always wondered?
   2. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: February 24, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4068006)
This reads like something out of a proto-sabermetrics website in 2001.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: February 24, 2012 at 03:16 PM (#4068033)
Not gonna bother reading the article and I'd guess the regression is not brilliantly specified or interpreted but ...

(a) like #1, I've never had a problem using WHIP as quick and dirty. Obviously the bigger the sample, the more reliable it is (i.e. less susceptible to BABIP fluctuation).
(b) component ERA (or DIPS/FIP) probably does better than ERA and that one advantage WHIP would have over ERA is it is less forgiving of unearned runs, many of which are the pitcher's "fault."
(c) of course what WHIP is mainly missing is HR rate.

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