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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

FG: Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Appreciating Greatness

Let’s go back to the qualified pitcher seasons since 1915, of which there are 7,464… Only 18 times — 0.002% — has a pitcher topped 25% in strikeouts and kept walks below five percent… Four of those seasons had more than one home run per nine innings. Ten of them were above 0.50/9. Still very good, and yet now out of the mix.

We’re left with four seasons… Let’s limit our pitchers to only seasons where the ground ball rate has been at least 50%; this, unfortunately, goes back only to 2002, when batted ball data was first available… We’re left with two guys. They’re both doing it right now. You probably already know who they are…

If you prefer this in a visual format, here’s a graph of every qualified starting pitcher season since 2002, all 1,136 of them…

 

 

 

[Kershaw and Hernandez are] doing things we’ve just about never seen before, ever. We should be thankful every single time they take the mound. This isn’t just “best pitcher in baseball” performance; this is “best you might see in your entire lifetime” kind of stuff.

The District Attorney Posted: August 12, 2014 at 04:57 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: clayton kershaw, dodgers, felix hernandez, history, mariners, sabermetrics

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   1. toratoratora Posted: August 12, 2014 at 05:45 PM (#4769749)
this is “best you might see in your entire lifetime” kind of stuff.

How soon they forget Pedro.
   2. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 12, 2014 at 05:59 PM (#4769758)
Let’s limit our pitchers to only seasons where the ground ball rate has been at least 50%; this, unfortunately, goes back only to 2002

...This isn’t just “best pitcher in baseball” performance; this is “best you might see in your entire lifetime” kind of stuff.


Especially if you're a toad or a wombat who's getting up in years (avg. lifespan for both: 15).
   3. SY Ruined School Lunches! Posted: August 12, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4769781)
How soon they forget Pedro.


they'd have to get a bigger chart, a few of his great seasons were over 30% K-BB rates.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4769786)
Who's that dot right below Kershaw?
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 12, 2014 at 06:49 PM (#4769789)
His lovely wife, Ellen.
   6. i'm only STEAGLES when it's complicated Posted: August 12, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4769792)
How soon they forget Pedro.
i was thinking randy johnson. pedro was great, but johnson's stuff was debilitating.
   7. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 06:58 PM (#4769793)
His lovely wife, Ellen.


I just snarfed beer. Thanks. Be less funny.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 07:12 PM (#4769798)

Kershaw is having an incredible season, but it's only 136 IP so far.
   9. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 12, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4769801)
touche, GB
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: August 12, 2014 at 07:28 PM (#4769803)
FIP? That’s better, though still imperfect. Martinez, again, and 1984 Dwight Gooden top the leaderboards there, followed by a pair of guys essentially playing a different sport, Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander in 1915.


I know I bag on fip, and it's a fine concept, but that leaderboard pretty much points to the problem with it, fip is not era adjusted in the slightest, ok, it's adjusted in that the multiplier is era adjusted, but it's not era adjusted by components. A k/9 of 7.5 in today's game is not the same thing of a k/9 of 7.5 in the 1970's. And as the article points out, the homerun rate in the 1910's is not the same as current day.

I think that if they came up with a formula that adjusts the components by era, that Pedro will look even more impressive, while a few other names at the top might have some jostling. (yes I know a nitpick, and I'm not really arguing against this article, just kinda free thinking right now while waiting for the game to start.)


Having said that, I'm still reading the article(Yes I read and comment so that I don't forget what is in my head) it's nice to see this acknowledgement, which makes me think there might be something more to this article than I first assumed.

There’s 149 seasons (0.019%) where a starter has struck out at least 25% of the hitters he faced. Of course, the sport is striking out so much more often now than it used to, making raw whiff numbers a bit skewed towards the present-day pitchers, something of the inverse of how WAR is going to work better for the older guys who pitched more often



But as I read the article, he ends up throwing that thought out the window for the most part, acknowledge the flaw and then soldiers on ignoring the flaw more or less.

And of course he double dips.... Arguing for a 'low homerun' stat, then arguing for high groundball rate because it keeps the low homeruns down. Ugh...you've already included it once, in fact, why argue for groundballs, when babip on ground balls is higher than it is on fly balls? wouldn't the perfect pitcher be a high k, low bb, low homerun fly ball pitcher?

Add in that the results produced two guys who pitch in pretty good pitchers park and all the concept of adjusting for park, eras etc just flew out of the window. I absolutely agree that Felix and Kershaw are the best pitchers in baseball(even in my Wainwright for all-star starter arguments, I've never said any different...there I was arguing ultimate results, not skill)

Kershaw is having a pretty great year(no reason to not compare it to a Pedro year, great rate numbers, missed a few starts) but I have a mild annoyance with this comment..

Kershaw could have been headed towards a streak of four in a row if not for the infatuation with R.A. Dickey‘s knuckler and story in 2012.

Ugh.... the difference between Kershaw, Dickey and Cueto was miniscule, no reason to be surprised with the voting, the fact that Cueto did as poorly as he did was something more to be upset about than Kershaw not winning. (Fangraphs typical fascination with fip)

The conclusion is pretty funny, again, not sure why the writer thinks double counting ground ball and low homerun totals is the way to go in this type of analysis.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 14, 2014 at 02:04 AM (#4770779)
fip is not era adjusted in the slightest, ok, it's adjusted in that the multiplier is era adjusted, but it's not era adjusted by components. A k/9 of 7.5 in today's game is not the same thing of a k/9 of 7.5 in the 1970's. And as the article points out, the homerun rate in the 1910's is not the same as current day.

it's not clear to me that it should be. FIP is an estimate for ERA or a "true ERA" or a "DIPs components ERA". It's basically:

a) you do not give up runs when you K batters, therefore, based on this pitcher's numbers of Ks (per IP really) ...
b) you do give up runs because of walks, therefore based on this pitchers number of BBs/IP ...
c) you do give up runs because of HRs, therefore ...
d) you do give up runs based on BIP but we assume everybody give those up at the same rate/BIP therefore ...
e) add that all up in a magic formula

The values attached to any specific event are generally pretty stable across time ... especially since the introduction of the live ball. The value varies a little bit based on general run context but that's not a substantial amount of variation. Striking out 8 guys in 1968 was probably every bit as good as striking out 8 guys in 1998. It's really no different than comparing two batters' RCs or RC/PA or similar.

To era-adjust though you do need FIP+. A straight comparison of a 1998 FIP to a 1968 FIP is as useless as comparing ERAs.

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