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Monday, December 24, 2012

Francisco Liriano and the Slow Death of ERA | FanGraphs Baseball

The tease of potential.

This is the kind of track record that gets a pitcher described as an outlier. For whatever reason, Liriano has been consistently terrible at stranding runners, and while it’s easy to write that off as a fluke over a year or even two, it gets a bit tougher to believe that this is all just random variance in sequencing when he’s at 840 innings pitched and has a career LOB% under 70%.

But yet, here are the Pirates, paying Liriano for a performance that requires his FIP to be the more predictive aspect, not his his strand rate and ERA. This deal follows on the heels of the Angels giving Joe Blanton essentially the same contract for the same kind of paradox. And it follows Zack Greinke getting paid like an ace, even though you have to disbelieve in the predictive power of ERA to believe that Zack Greinke is an ace. And it follows Anibal Sanchez signing an $80 million contract coming off a couple of seasons where his ERA- (96) had him as a decent starter but his FIP (87) had him as one of the better starters in baseball. Toss in Scott Feldman getting $6 million from the Cubs, and this has been a pretty profitable winter for starting pitchers who posted much better FIPs than ERAs over the last few years.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: francisco liriano, pirates, sabermetrics

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   1. DL from MN Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4331873)
For whatever reason, Liriano has been consistently terrible at stranding runners


It's not "whatever reason". He can't locate the slider out of the stretch. Without the slider he's a mediocre pitcher at best.

I am guessing Liriano ends his career as a reliever who can be brought in at the start of an inning with the bases empty and pulled as soon as they get someone on.
   2. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4331876)
FIP is what the actually pitcher did. ERA is what the pitcher, the team defense, and the team bullpen all did together, as substantially modified by the personal interpretation of not-necessarily-impartial-nor-competent observers.

ERA is like RBI: a pointless dinosaur stat that needs to be quietly buried. Even if people are too set in their ways to adopt FIP, which is a far better measure of pitching performance, they should at least drop ERA for R/9, which is at least an honest stat.
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4331884)
FIP is what the actually pitcher did. ERA is what the pitcher, the team defense, and the team bullpen all did together, as substantially modified by the personal interpretation of not-necessarily-impartial-nor-competent observers.

ERA is like RBI: a pointless dinosaur stat that needs to be quietly buried. Even if people are too set in their ways to adopt FIP, which is a far better measure of pitching performance, they should at least drop ERA for R/9, which is at least an honest stat.


Huge overstatement. FIP has its uses, but it definitely does NOT represent "what the pitcher actually did".

FIP has no idea if the guy is giving up line drives or pop-ups. It has no idea if a pitcher is good at inducing DPs and controlling the running game. It has no idea if the guy can't pitch out of the stretch. It has no idea a guy is a knuckleballer, or someone like Tom Glavine who can suppress BABIP.

The truth is partially contained in a bunch of stats (RA, ERA, FIP, xFIP, etc.) There is no magic pitching stat.
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM (#4331885)
FIP is what the actually pitcher did.


Fip is a theoretical construction, which attempts to pretend that the world is a theoretical place, and what a pitchers performance would be if he had a league average defense behind him, and a universe where unearned runs do not exist, along with a universe where pitchers pitch with the same strategy regardless of situation. It assumes everyone in the majors is a major league quality pitcher, which is a big ass assumption.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4331887)
The truth is partially contained in a bunch of stats (RA, ERA, FIP, xFIP, etc.) There is no magic pitching stat.


Agreed. ERA+ definitely _does_ measure something very useful, unlike, say, Wins. There's no reason not to look at ERA.

And pitchers with different profiles will strand runners differently.
   6. bookbook Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4331895)
If this is the problem, why not just have him throw out of a windup with runners on? Sure, you give away some bases, but getting more outs doesn't outweigh that?
   7. DL from MN Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4331897)
Having a runner on first turn into a runner on third after the batter takes two pitches doesn't seem like a good tradeoff.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2012 at 12:54 PM (#4331898)
Fip is a theoretical construction, which attempts to pretend that the world is a theoretical place, and what a pitchers performance would be if he had a league average defense behind him, and a universe where unearned runs do not exist, along with a universe where pitchers pitch with the same strategy regardless of situation. It assumes everyone in the majors is a major league quality pitcher, which is a big ass assumption.

And a league avg. GB%, FB%, pop-up%, LD%.
   9. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 24, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4331900)
I'll be waiting anxiously for my commissions. 1% on all of these deals is all I ask.
   10. greenback calls it soccer Posted: December 24, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4331901)
I'll be waiting anxiously for my commissions. 1% on all of these deals is all I ask.

Maybe you should've hired Scott Boras before publishing.
   11. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 24, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4331903)
Maybe you should've hired Scott Boras before publishing.

C'mon, it's the Christmas season! Surely Jon Niese can get in the spirit and donate to his benefactor.
   12. Don Malcolm Posted: December 24, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4331904)
I'll be waiting anxiously for my commissions. 1% on all of these deals is all I ask.

Selling out for pennies on the dollar, my friend. Calculate retroactive royalties, plus damages for all the pain and suffering from seeing your concepts pretzel-twisted by that cadre of vigilante sabermetricans...

...and you'll wind up with a seven-figure nest egg, a signing bonus, plus hot and cold running supermodels. Il sorpasso, mi amici...!!!
   13. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 24, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4331918)
I never said FIP was magic or comprehensive or any of the things some of you seem to think that I wrote. I said that FIP is what the pitcher actually did. True statement.

"Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number." -HT

The league-specific factor is just for scaling for those who still have their heads stuck in their ERA's.
   14. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 24, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4331922)
FIP is what the actually pitcher did.


Fip is a theoretical construction, which attempts to pretend that the world is a theoretical place, and what a pitchers performance would be if he had a league average defense behind him, and a universe where unearned runs do not exist, along with a universe where pitchers pitch with the same strategy regardless of situation.


"Can I predict ze horze-raze?" asked the German physicist. "Certainly, give me 2 days".

Two days later:
"I have pozitive proof that ze horze-raze can be predicted. Here you are. Azzuming ze horze is spherical, ..."
   15. PreservedFish Posted: December 24, 2012 at 02:16 PM (#4331924)
ERA is still the first stat I look at for pitchers, and I have yet to be convinced that I should do otherwise.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 24, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4331935)
I never said FIP was magic or comprehensive or any of the things some of you seem to think that I wrote. I said that FIP is what the pitcher actually did. True statement.

No. It's some of the stuff the pitcher actually did.

For example, throwing an 86 MPH meatball over the middle of the plate, that gets ripped in the gap for a triple is omitted.
   17. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: December 24, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4331956)
It's not "whatever reason". He can't locate the slider out of the stretch. Without the slider he's a mediocre pitcher at best.

I am guessing Liriano ends his career as a reliever who can be brought in at the start of an inning with the bases empty and pulled as soon as they get someone on.

With the White Sox, he looked scared of allowing a crooked number. If the leadoff man reached, he'd rather nibble and throw 30-40 pitches to get three outs rather than take a lump or two and live to last six innings.

That's not particularly helpful as a starter. The K rate is superficially nice, but a lot of the strikeouts weren't in good faith.
   18. Bug Selig Posted: December 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4331996)
Is there a setting that allows you to ignore any thread in which a specific person has participated?
   19. Zach Posted: December 24, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4332008)
FIP is what the pitcher actually did.

That's an odd way to look at it. ERA measures what actually happens (RA measures it better). FIP measures what one would expect to happen, given the same inputs. You might as well argue that the Pythagorean W/L measures what a team actually did.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 05:54 PM (#4332015)
ERA is still the first stat I look at for pitchers, and I have yet to be convinced that I should do otherwise.


Era+ for me with an eye at the number of unearned runs they allowed.
   21. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 24, 2012 at 06:24 PM (#4332022)
ERA is the last stat anyone should look at for pitchers. It's a pitcher+defense+bullpen, as randomly modified by a scorer.

Two identical pitchers. Pitcher A has a great defense and a solid bullpen behind him. Plays are made, inherited runners don't score. Plus he gets friendly error calls from the scorer. He has a dandy ERA.

His clone Pitcher B plays for a club with a crappy defense and a shoddy bullpen. Fielders don't get to balls, inherited runners score, he get shafted by the scorer. His ERA sucks.

This is a pitching perormance metric? NOT. Two guys who are exactly the same can appear to be miles apart. FIP adjusts for luck, fielding talent, and things a pitcher can't control. ERA doesn't.

You don't like modern stats? Then at least use R/9, which takes SOME of the extraneous nonsense out of ERA.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 07:05 PM (#4332028)
You don't like modern stats? Then at least use R/9, which takes SOME of the extraneous nonsense out of ERA.


No problem with modern stats around here, no problem with fip, dips or any of that ####, the problem is that there is too many assumptions being made with fip and dips. As mentioned, the initial studies which developed the theories of fip, dips etc, was based upon established major league pitchers. When you start to give the same benefit of the doubt to talent level to every pitcher, you are doing the research a disservice.

On top of that, again, it's been proven many times, even by the developer of Dips(see the guy in post 11) that there are enough exceptions to the rules, that it's a general rule, and not hard and fast definite for everybody for every situation. You are going to have your Javier Vazquez, Liriano's, Maddux, and Glavine like outliers. And those outliers are explainable by scouting, and era, and pretty much by knowing something about the game.

And of course Fip isn't park adjusted, so you need to look at Fip-(which I've yet to see anyone use) I mean if you are going to throw out some random ass stat that isn't completely accepted,(see the idiots that were in love with wpa for about a year before sanity reign in the absurdity) you might as well throw out the best version of the stat. If you aren't using Fip-, then you really shouldn't be quoting fip.

This is a pitching perormance metric? NOT. Two guys who are exactly the same can appear to be miles apart. FIP adjusts for luck, fielding talent, and things a pitcher can't control. ERA doesn't.


Pitchers control a lot more than dips and fip account for. Fip assumes that the distribution of strikeouts, walks and homeruns is 100% random, and the reality is that some pitchers do a better job of timing of those events with runners on base than when they are not on base.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:08 PM (#4332051)
ERA is the last stat anyone should look at for pitchers. It's a pitcher+defense+bullpen, as randomly modified by a scorer.

Do you realize the fit criteria used for FIP?

FIP is considered superior to ERA because it does a better job of predicting ... future ERA.

If ERA is the last stat anyone should look at, why do we want a stat that is good at predicting ERA?

FIP has utility because FIP takes HR and K/BB and gives you a rough translation of those two into runs. That's useful for punters on the web. Any team should be using a more complex model -- I'm pretty sure ZiPS does better than FIP for example.

As to the article ... is this actually any different than before? Isn't giving out contracts based on FIP the same as giving out contracts based on "stuff" and isn't that what teams have almost always done?

2006-8, AJ Burnett had 522 IP, 1 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 9 K/9. He got 5/$82.5 4 years ago. (ERA+ 112)
2010-12, Sanchez had 587 IP, .8 HR/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 8 K/9. He got 5/$80. (ERA+ 109)

This is a victory for FIP?

2006-8, Ollie Perez had 484 IP, 1.2 HR/9, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.5 K/9 (95 ERA+). He got 3/$36 4 years ago.
2010-12, Liriano had 483 IP, .8 HR/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 9 K/9 (89 ERA+). He got 2/$14.

FIP again ruling the day.

2002-4, Brad Radke had 550 IP, 1.1 HR/9, 1.2 BB/9 and 5.3 K/9 (111 ERA+). He got 2/$18 (maybe more, he got hurt)
2010-12, Blanton had 408 IP, 1.3 HR/9, 1.9 BB/9 and 7.4 K/9 (83 ERA+). He got 2/$15 ... 8 years later

Well done FIP lovers!

The best you can say is that teams are getting much better deals on non-elite pitchers than they did in the past.

   24. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:08 PM (#4332052)
Snapper 3 wins the thread, no need to continue, which is a shame because cardsfanboy 4 makes my ass hurt.

We know that pitchers have more control over K and BB than they do other things. We also know that they have some control over other things. Any model that gives BABIP the same weight as K and BB is wrong, and any model that gives BABIP zero weight is wrong. My preference would be to weigh xFIP and RA - in a small sample size, xFIP gets more weight, in a large sample size RA gets more weight. This is pretty simple people, stop talking dogmatically.
   25. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4332053)
It assumes everyone in the majors is a major league quality pitcher, which is a big ass assumption.


Sure, FIP might not work for PJ Walters, but Liriano is clearly a major league quality pitcher. At times in his career he's been an absolutely elite major league pitcher. Generally, there are no pitchers with great K and BB rates who also have super high BABIP's and strand rates. The converse is not true as there are many mediocre K and BB pitchers who are good at suppressing BABIP.
   26. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:13 PM (#4332054)
ERA is still the first stat I look at for pitchers, and I have yet to be convinced that I should do otherwise.


See JA Happ 2009. Sorry for the triple post.
   27. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4332063)
I RTFA and they use ERA-?. Is this new? If I understand it correctly and lower is better, I think I like it.
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:55 PM (#4332070)
Sure, FIP might not work for PJ Walters, but Liriano is clearly a major league quality pitcher


Why? Because he keeps getting put out there and performing worse than Fip predicts, should be an indication that he maybe is not a major league pitcher. I honestly think that at some point in time people have to accept that pitchers who aren't getting results predicted by Fip, may not be the same talent pool that Fip is designed to predict. Sure he was in the past a major league quality pitcher, and maybe hasn't been for several years, He has stuff, but maybe not the ability to pitch at the majors.

I RTFA and they use ERA-?. Is this new? If I understand it correctly and lower is better, I think I like it.


New in that it's probably less than a year old, it is what bb-ref should be using, but we are conditioned to the old way. (yes lower is better...it does a better job of scaling extreme years so that it doesn't look as nearly ridiculous as it had in the past)
   29. Dan Posted: December 24, 2012 at 09:56 PM (#4332071)
ERA- and FIP- and xFIP- were added to Fangraphs some time last season. They are quite nice since they compare the pitcher to league average rather than league average to the pitcher. Similarly wRC+ is nicer than OPS+ because it actually reflects what people erroneously think OPS+ means: a hitter's offensive producton as a percentage above or below league average.
   30. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:01 PM (#4332074)
28 are you high? Liriano has a career 96 ERA+ in the AL, with peripherals and stuff far better than that. He's 29 next season. There is zero evidence that he falls outside the pool that FIP is trying to predicting. But this is what I'm talking about with dogmatism.
   31. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM (#4332076)
Note I'm not saying that FIP "works" for Liriano, but if it doesn't it's definitely not because Liriano lacks qualities of a "major league pitcher".
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:08 PM (#4332077)
28 are you high? Liriano has a career 96 ERA+ in the AL, with peripherals and stuff far better than that. He's 29 next season. There is zero evidence that he falls outside the pool that FIP is trying to predicting. But this is what I'm talking about with dogmatism, good day to you.


It's not dogmatism, (note, I'm not specifically referring to Liriano, I'm referring to any pitcher, ever) if he consistently is falling below projections, then the reasons could be the projecting system is flawed, random variance, or that the system isn't designed to handle him as a player... 2 of those 3 results is a knock on the system. I don't care which you take, but the odds are that there is something about Liriano that indicates he doesn't perform as well as Dips think he should. I don't believe it's random variance so I'll take either of the other two arguments.
   33. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:18 PM (#4332080)
Why would FIP fail for Liriano? Obviously there will be pitchers who have higher ERA's than FIP's, and not all of them are players who don't fit the FIP mold (which I think is a bullshit concept anyway, if you can strike out 9 batters per 9 you clearly are a major league pitcher. If you have a career 4.40 ERA, you clearly are a major league pitcher). If that wasn't the case than there would be no point in having FIP, and all the research shows that FIP is more predictive of future ERA than ERA.

It's a useless tautology to say that FIP doesn't work for anyone who has an ERA-FIP discrepancy.
   34. vivaelpujols Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4332082)
Let's make some bets here. Which 5 pitchers (age 26-32) do you think FIP does not work for?
   35. JE (Jason) Posted: December 24, 2012 at 10:29 PM (#4332083)
FWIW, Snapper's no. 16 comment prompted Tango to respond:
Two people who are talking to each other, but don’t want to listen to each other. It’s clear what each side is trying to say.

FIP is only concerned with those things that don’t involve his fielders (though Mike Trout stealing or not stealing HR are on the edge there). It is AGNOSTIC on every other event.

This is no different than OBP only being concerned with whether a batter reached base, and not interested in how far he reached base. So, a walk = HR for purposes of OBP. It is AGNOSTIC as to how far the batter got.

So, why do we have a problem? Well, there is a big gap between a player’s OBP and his overall offensive production. Namely, his HR and extra bases and his baserunning. It’s an obvious gap, so obvious, that we don’t even need to point it out. No one is going to say that “OBP is almost the same as a hitter’s overall offense”.

With pitchers, the gap between a pitcher FIP and his overall defensive production is fairly “small” (with small being defined however one wishes to define it). So, we end up with one side thinking “small” means “non-existant”, and the other side thinking “small” means “still notable”.

FIP is impressive because it only needs 20-35% of a pitcher’s batters faced in order to explain a large portion of his talent.
   36. Karl from NY Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4332104)
what people erroneously think OPS+ means: a hitter's offensive producton as a percentage above or below league average.

Doesn't it, though? OPS+ is constructed the way it is because that's how run scoring behaves. OBP and SLG both create runs roughly linearly (within realistic ranges that occur in MLB.) If you record SLG of 10% above average, you knock in 10% more runs. OBP of 10% above average means you're on base 10% more often for your teammates to drive in. If you do both, your spot in the lineup creates 20% more runs than average, and there's your 120 OPS+.
   37. cardsfanboy Posted: December 24, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4332108)
Let's make some bets here. Which 5 pitchers (age 26-32) do you think FIP does not work for?



Haven't done any studying on it, but I'll go with Jeremy Hellickson, Rick Porcello, Jared Weaver, Liriano, Josh Beckett, Bud Norris, Ubaldo Jimenez... didn't look at ages so not sure who is within the range you are talking about.

Of course the age range listed is prime for people who get it, if someone is 26 years old and currently isn't a major league ready pitcher, but is pitching in the majors, he'll probably have the ability but maybe not the makeup yet. That is something that is learned or you won't be in the league for long. And then you have the other factor, veteran's who lose their stuff, but still get chances at the major league level because of who they were.

Why would FIP fail for Liriano?


Not actually saying it doesn't work for Liriano specifically, but if it doesn't, it could be because he isn't a major league pitcher in the head. Dips was based upon the entire established pool of starting pitchers in the majors, and there is (usually) an acknowledged quality difference between AAA pitching and MLB pitching. History is littered with guys who had the stuff, but couldn't get it to translate at the major league level, or in cases of guys like Javier Vazquez or Josh Beckett, they are talented enough, that even underperforming expectations they get major league results.

If that wasn't the case than there would be no point in having FIP, and all the research shows that FIP is more predictive of future ERA than ERA.


And for the most part that is true, but there has always been exceptions, your knuckleballers, your Greg Maddux's etc. If there is a way to overperform dips consistently, then isn't it reasonable to expect people to underperform consistently?

It's a useless tautology to say that FIP doesn't work for anyone who has an ERA-FIP discrepancy.


And I hope you don't think I'm saying that, because I'm not.
   38. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM (#4332121)
I'm just trying to think of guys who are in their prime already so we wouldn't get any aging effects. A lot of these guys (Weaver, Porcello and Hellickson) play on teams with extreme defensive talent, so instead of using FIP and ERA, I'll use fWAR and bWAR per 600 BF because bWAR adjust for team defense. The number we'll compare to is 2013 bWAR/600 BF.

Hellickson - career 2.5 bWAR/600, 1.0 fWAR/600. Over/under - 1.7

Porcello - career .7 bWAR/600, 1.9 fWAR/600. Over/under - 1.3

Weaver - career 3.1 bWAR/600, 3.0 fWAR/600. There's no disagreement here, so we'll just skip him.

Liriano - career 1.4 bWAR/600, 2.7 fWAR/600. Over/under - 2.0

Beckett - career 2.4 bWAR/600, 3.0 fWAR/600. Over/under - 2.7. I'm not gonna take this bet because Beckett doesn't have a large differential and he'll be 33 next year which will depress his numbers. On the other hand he's in the NL which will counterbalance that. OK fine I'll take it ;)

Norris - career .4 bWAR/600, 1.3 fWAR/600. Over/under - .9

Ubaldo - career 2.1 bWAR/600, 2.8 fWAR/600. This is a pretty weird one because Ubaldo who had that one year where he hugely outperformed his peripherals for most of the year, but has actually slightly underperformed his peripherals over his career. Anyway I'm not gonna take this bet because he's lost so much velocity in recent years.

So we have Norris, Liriano, Beckett, Hellickson and Porcello. I'll try to remember to revisit this in a year.
   39. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4332134)
J.R. Wolf has to be some regular poster who is just ####### with us. No one is that aggressivly stupid.
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:41 AM (#4332142)
Ubaldo - career 2.1 bWAR/600, 2.8 fWAR/600. This is a pretty weird one because Ubaldo who had that one year where he hugely outperformed his peripherals for most of the year, but has actually slightly underperformed his peripherals over his career. Anyway I'm not gonna take this bet because he's lost so much velocity in recent years.


He overperformed I think because of Coors field. I think he is the weird guy who performs better because of the high run environment of coors field. As to Beckett.... He's the guy who I look at as the guy who does poorly 3 out of 4 years, and things go right in the fourth year, enough that his spread isn't that big of a deal, but if we are talking about betting, I would imagine the odds would be stacked in him underperforming again.

   41. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:31 AM (#4332150)
Robert: "Aggressively stupid" is using a dinosaur stat which includes defense quality, bullpen quality, luck, and subjective judgment as a pitching quality metric.
   42. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:32 AM (#4332152)
Or at least use R/9. ERA is a garbage stat.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2012 at 03:50 AM (#4332162)
I'm sorry but the question is very much whether Liriano is a ML quality pitcher.

2012 ERA+ 78
2011 ERA+ 80
2009 ERA+ 76

2009-12 ERA+ 86

It is the very matter under debate. Those are terrible, terrible results.

For pitchers with at least 500 IP from 2009-12, Liriano has the 8th worst ERA+ (out of only 100 eligible). The ones worse than him are:

Hochevar who we laugh about
Volstad who we scorn
Roberto Hernandez who is not the reliever
Kevin Correia who was not good enough for the Pirates
Nick Blackburn who is so uninteresting I have nothing to say
Derek Lowe who is no longer in baseball
Livan who threw 67 innings of terrible relief in 2012 and is probably done

Ahh, but that's still a select group of pitchers given there are only 100 of them. OK, let's look at the 261 pitchers who have made at least 20 starts from 2009-12. He has the 71st worst ERA+ of this group. He's in there with Chris Narveson, Brad Penny, Micah Owings and Jamie Moyer. Even Jerome Williams has managed an 87.

Drop it to 5 starts and he's 150th out of 407. And this is how I discover that Kip Wells pitched in the majors in 2012. He appears to be worse than Liriano.

What about guys with high K rates? OK, let's go back to the 20+ starts 2009-12 list. Of 55 pitchers, he has the 6th worst ERA+. Look who he's around though ...

Manny Parra, Esmil Rogers, Chad Gaudin, Edinson Volquez, Felipe Paulino, Bud Norris, Felix Dubront, Rich Harden, Jonathan Sanchez, Carlos Villanueva, Jeff Samardzija, Marco Estrada, Erik Bedard.

Do you want your team to go out and sign most of those guys to 2/$14?

But we want to predict so let's look at that list for the years 2007-10 and see who did well in 2011-12.

Felipe Paulino -- nope
BH Kim -- nope
Rick van der Hurk -- nope
Manny Parra -- nope
Ollie Perez -- nope
Gio Gonzalez -- hooray! Also 22-24, not 25-28
Rob Tejeda -- nope
Francisco Liriano -- nope
Carlos Villanueva -- OK as a swingman
Jorge de la Rosa -- nope
Ricky Nolasco -- nope
Rich Hill -- nope
Scott Kazmir -- nope
Jonathan Sanchez -- oh god no!

Some of those guys were hurt but given Liriano's injury history and lack of durability, I'm not ruling that out for him. Anyway, there's not one of those guys you'd want to pay 2/$14. Nolasco has his uses in that he's durable and an 85ish ERA+. Gio (much younger) aside, the best pitcher (i.e. the one with the best results 2011-12) on this list is Villanueva and he had better results 2007-10 than Liriano did 2009-12. Rumor puts that contract at 2/$10. That Liriano himself is on this list, at a 95 ERA+, and proceeded to have a lousy ERA in 2011-12 should definitely give you cause for concern. And 2010 was an excellent year for Liriano -- low BB and HR rate, he looked like he might be back to the guy we were all so excited about.

I hope everyone here understands the point of gambling on a guy with a high K-rate. But that's a 1/$4 contract with incentives or maybe even 1/$7 with an option.

   44. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 25, 2012 at 04:02 AM (#4332166)
Robert: "Aggressively stupid" is using a dinosaur stat which includes defense quality, bullpen quality, luck, and subjective judgment as a pitching quality metric.

Yes, yes, we get it. You are a buffoon. But are you are poser buffoon or the genuine article?
   45. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:00 AM (#4332175)
Walt, Liriano gave up a total of 10 unearned runs over those 4 years. League average ER is .92 of ER + UER IIRC, so you'd have expected Liriano to give up 30 unearned runs. That's a big difference and turns him from a near replacement level pitcher to somewhere close to league average.

The first list is useless because those guys were also terrible FIP pitchers. If Liriano had a terrible FIP as well, there would be no discussion. Furthermore, none of those guys put up anything like Liriano's 2010 except for Lowe and Livan who were old as ####.

I'm also not sure what that last list is supposed to convey. Felipe Paulino was injured, otherwise he was good. BH Kim retired in 2007 and ha a 5.76 FIP his last year. Rick Vanderhurk pitched a total of 180 innings in the majors over his career. Manny Parra I'll give you (finally). Ollie Perez put up terrible DIPS numbers in addition to terrible ERA's in 07-10, he's not comparable to Liriano. Tejeda went to relief. Jorge De La Rosa's been fine considering his home ballpark. Ricky Nolasco is a good comp for Liriano, he's consistently had higher ERA's than FIP's. Rich Hill's been out of baseball for several years, Kazmir got injured, Sanchez has a ERA lower than his FIP the past 4 years and has been fine over that span (he only pitched 60 innings last year and his DIPS numbers blew up as well).

Either way I have no idea how you generated those comps, since half of them haven't pitched at all in recent years. What you're looking for is a guy with a 4.00 FIP and a 4.80 ERA. From 2007-2010, setting the limit to 400 innings, you get Jason Hammel, Ricky Nolasco and that's pretty much it.

I'll take bets on Liriano all day. Over under 4 ERA next year. I agree that they shouldn't have signed him to 2/14, but that's only because I can't imagaine anyone else would offer that to him.
   46. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4332200)
ERA- and FIP- and xFIP- were added to Fangraphs some time last season. They are quite nice since they compare the pitcher to league average rather than league average to the pitcher. Similarly wRC+ is nicer than OPS+ because it actually reflects what people erroneously think OPS+ means: a hitter's offensive producton as a percentage above or below league average.


Gracias, Dan. I haven't really been following them too much lately, due to time constraints. I rely on BTF to separate the wheat from the chaff for me.
   47. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: December 25, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4332204)
As to the article ... is this actually any different than before? Isn't giving out contracts based on FIP the same as giving out contracts based on "stuff" and isn't that what teams have almost always done?


This was my initial take-away too, although it would be pretty interesting if FIP directly correlated with scouting grades on pitcher's stuff.
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 25, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4332214)
FWIW, Snapper's no. 16 comment prompted Tango to respond:

Thought that was a pretty innocuous comment; guess I just have a knack for irritating the true believers.

Quite frankly, I don't know why anyone for rely on FIP anymore. If you want an ERA estimator, use ZiPs or Cairo, or Oliver, or any of the other ones. They're much better. If you want to eyeball stats in-season, look at the components on their own (K/9, BB/9, etc.).

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone!
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:03 PM (#4332218)
Or at least use R/9. ERA is a garbage stat.


How did you miss the part where they mentioned that fip is best for predicting future ERA? If ERA is a garbage stat, why would anyone care if you could predict it? Era is a great stat, yes there is flaws and RA fixes a large portion of that, but there is no reason to go to complementary stats like whip, k%(you should be shot if you use k/9 instead of k%) etc while ignoring era/era+.
   50. cardsfanboy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4332222)
For some reason, some people think that Maddux bucks the FIP trend. The reality is that Maddux’s career ERA is 76% of the league average, and his FIP is 77% of the league average.


From Tango's response. I know he is (at least I hope he is) being intentionally inaccurate to see if anyone bothers to check up on him.

Maddux from 1992-1998 a 7 year peak, he outperformed fip by a fairly good margin. Over his career he doesn't, but 800 innings at the tail end of his career where he probably wasn't the same pitcher, and another 180 ip in his first season and a half explains away pretty much all of that. If you look from 1988-2002 you have a guy who is consistently out performing his fip, and often times by a good amount.
   51. lonestarball Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4332238)
Another example is Roy Oswalt's 2012 season. 3.27 xFIP, 4.23 FIP, 5.80 ERA. If Cameron is right, teams should be falling all over themselves to sign Oswalt right now. They aren't, though, because his ERA is more indicative of how he performed in 2012 than his FIP or xFIP are. He was throwing meatballs, and they got crushed.
   52. lonestarball Posted: December 25, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4332239)
Jeremy Bonderman is another pitcher who seems to fall in the Ricky Nolasco category...throughout his career, he consistently had a significantly higher ERA than FIP.
   53. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4332290)
Quite frankly, I don't know why anyone for rely on FIP anymore


Projection systems are more accurate for predicting future ERA obviously, but that's not always what you want to look for. FIP shows how a pitcher pitched when you look at things not effected by defense. As a by product it also strips out a bunch of luck and a little skill. I personally think it's a much better indicator of in season performance than ERA. Over 6+ seasons, adjusted RA is the best thing obviously. Looking at components seperately is just dancing around the fact. How do you compare a guy with 5 K/9 and 2 BB/9 and 9 K/9 and 4 BB/9? FIP is way better than just saying "well they seem about equal".
   54. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4332292)
They aren't, though, because his ERA is more indicative of how he performed in 2012 than his FIP or xFIP are. He was throwing meatballs, and they got crushed.


Yeah it's pretty likely that he was throwing a bunch of meatballs while also striking out 9 guys per 9. That's usually what happens.
   55. lonestarball Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:26 PM (#4332303)
Yeah it's pretty likely that he was throwing a bunch of meatballs while also striking out 9 guys per 9. That's usually what happens.


No, its not usually what happens. That's what makes Oswalt, with his big FIP/ERA spread (and even bigger xFIP/ERA) spread, an outlier. But it is a more reasonable explanation for Oswalt being terrible last year than bad luck/bad defense. You can't just dismiss Oswalt's awfulness as random fluctuation.
   56. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4332305)
Either way I have no idea how you generated those comps,

That last list was:

Pitchers with at least 20 starts from 2007-10
With at least 8 K/9
and an ERA+ under 100

Yes, many of them did not pitch much at all from 2011-12. The ones who did mostly did not have good results. This was despite "proving" themselves as ML pitchers with their K/9 rates over 8.

That was the point.

Liriano 2007-2010: 95 ERA+, 8.7/3.5 K/BB, .8 HR/9
Oliver Perez 2007-10: 92 ERA+, 8.4/5.3 K/BB, 1.2 HR/9

Liriano 2011-12: 79 ERA+, 8.6/5.0 K/BB, 1 HR/9

Same pitcher as Ollie Perez.

Jonathan Sanchez 2007-10: 100 ERA+, 9.5/4.6 K/BB, 1 HR/9 (more Ks, more walks, more HR than Liriano 2007-10; slightly better than Liriano 2011-12)

Sanchez 2011-12: 66 ERA+, 8.0/6.5 K/BB, 1.1 HR/9

So to keep making it clear

Paulino 2007-10: 70 ERA+, 8.1/3.9, 1.3 HR/9
Paulino 2011-12: 69 IP

van der Hurk 7-10: 74 ERA+, 8.8/4.6, 1.5
van der Hurk 11-12: 12 IP

Parra 7-10: 81 ERA+, 8.3/4.5, 1.1
Parra 11-12: 59 bad relief innings

Ollie: already covered

Gio 7-10: 95 ERA+, 8.5/4.7, 1.0 (age 22-24 seasons)

Tejeda 7-10: 95 ERA+, 8.4/5.2, 1.0
Tejeda 11-12: 7 IP

Liriano 7-10: 95 ERA+, 8.7/3.5, .8
Liriano 11-12: 79 ERA+, 8.6/5.0 K/BB, 1 HR/9

Villanueva 7-10: 96 ERA+, 8.3/3.4, 1.3
Villanueva 11-12: 104 ERA+, 7.4/3.0, 1.3

de la Rosa 7-10: 97 ERA+, 8.2/4.0, 1.1
de la Rosa 11-12: 70 IP

Nolasco 7-10: 98 ERA+, 8.4/2 (!!), 1.2
Nolasco 11-12: 86 ERA+, 6.2/2.1, .9

Hill 7-10: 98 ERA+, 8.0/4.0, 1.2
Hill 11-12: 28 IP

Kazmir 7-10: 99 ERA+, 8.4/4.1, 1.1
Kazmir 11-12: 1 IP

Sanchez, already covered

So, the question: is Liriano an ML quality pitcher?

Result: using pitchers with similar peripherals and results to Liriano

Paulino, de la Rosa and Kazmir were hurt. Given Liriano's lack of durability and previous injury history, we shouldn't rule this out.

van der Hurk, Parra, Ollie, Tejeda (to my knowledge) and Hill were deemed to not be of ML quality and have bounced between minors and bullpen.

The guys allowed to remain ML starters (at times) for 2011-12 were Liriano, Villanueva (swingman), Nolasco and Sanchez. To repeat, their 2011-12 results:

Sanchez 66 ERA+
Liriano 79 ERA+
Nolasco 86 ERA+
Villanueva 104 ERA+

That's not promising. Of the 12 pitchers in the 2007-10 list (ignoring the young Gio), 3 were hurt, 5 were not ML quality, 2 had terrible results, 1 was a reliable 5th starter, 1 was a successful swingman. I wouldn't like those odds.

Projecting Liriano's 2013-14 we are now looking at Liriano 2009-12:

86 ERA+, 8.7/4.1, .9

These are worse results than Liriano 2007-10 which was followed by two bad years. These results still fit right in with those 2007-10 comps which, as we saw, did not project success.

Here's an interesting historical tidbit. For ages 25-28, for the years 1961-2010, 600+ IP, 8+ K/9, 4+ BB/9, ERA+ <=100 ... there's only one pitcher, Randy Johnson. That's promising. In 2011, Sanchez joined him ... not so promising. With his 2012 season, Liriano becomes the third.

Drop the IP requirement to 300 and you get 10. Names of note added to the list not already discussed are Dave Burba (a late blooming good starter) and Edinson Volquez (84 ERA+ and some injury problems; he'll be 29 in 2013).

Use GS>=20 to pull up a few more AAAA types and you get a list of 13 and none of the new names found any sort of later success.

What that all seems to mean is that pitchers with peripherals similar to Liriano are often not considered to be of ML quality by actual ML teams. Most of the handful of pitchers who have not been hurt and have been given the opportunity to continue starting have not succeeded. Balancing all of that is Randy Johnson (awesome), Burba (damn good for a while) and Villanueva (useful).

Given his recent performance, given the performance of pitchers with similar peripherals and given Liriano's durability issues (about 5.5 IP/start), I see no reason to expect anything better than 150 innings of about 80 ERA+ ball -- i.e. what he's done the last two years. Sounds like borderline AAA/ML to me.
   57. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4332313)
I should add the point about unearned runs is legit. It would be nice if b-r provided RA+ but they don't and I'm not going to figure it out.

I will note that from 2009-12, Liriano allowed 14 UER in 619 IP. From 2007-10, Sanchez allowed only 15 UER in 567 IP (worse but not dramatically so); Volquez 2009-12 only 8 in 404; de la Rosa 06-09 (his age 25-28) 17 in 524; Nolasco 25 in 761; Villanueva just 3 in 338 (maybe a reliever thing) and, a personal fave, Rich Hill 05-08 just 9 in 338.

On the other hand, Ollie did allow 32 in just 483 IP and Parra 27 in 428.

So a low number of UER seems fairly common in this group (no surprise given their TTO outcomes) and it doesn't seem a particularly good indicator of future success/ML opportunity.

So the challenge to the FIPpers is to find high-K, high-BB, FIP<<ERA mismatches who went on to future success along with those that didn't.
   58. vivaelpujols Posted: December 25, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4332314)
Paulino pitched as many innings as Sanchez 2011-2012 (~170), so I'm not sure why you're filing him in the injured list. He had an ERA+ around 100. Ollie Perez isn't a good comp because he had FIP's in the 6's in both 2009 and 2010 - that's the reason why he didn't pitch in baseball (and he actually was good in 30 innings this year).

Here's an interesting historical tidbit. For ages 25-28, for the years 1961-2010, 600+ IP, 8+ K/9, 4+ BB/9, ERA+ <=100 ... there's only one pitcher, Randy Johnson. That's promising. In 2011, Sanchez joined him ... not so promising. With his 2012 season, Liriano becomes the third.


This is the key thing, you have to look at guys who pitched 600+ innings, not guys who pitched 250 innings like Rich Hill (almost all of his career innings came in 2006 and 2007). Sanchez is easily the best comp in the list, but he doesn't really illustrate the original point (about FIP) because his DIPS numbers also deteriorated last year. If Liriano puts up a 6.5 FIP than he clearly is not a major league talent anymore and in the issue becomes moot.

What happens if you look at all pitchers with 600+ IP, 8+ K/9, 4+ BB/9, ERA+ <=100 from ages 24-30 (or some broader range)?

I think 150 innings sounds right. I'd expect an ERA+ of at least 90. I'm guessing ZIPS has him around there when it comes out. Even if you're just doing a 5-4-3 weighted by innings ERA+ projection, you'd get like an 87 ERA+. And we know that A) Liriano has given up far fewer unearned runs than average, and B) his peripherals are far better than that which I know you can't be weighting at zero in the calculation. I don't see how you get him as a AAA starter next year.
   59. JJ1986 Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4332342)
Parra should be lumped more with the injured than with the lacking-in-quality
   60. jyjjy Posted: December 25, 2012 at 10:53 PM (#4332349)
Could it be that Liriano is not a FIP valid MLB pitcher from the stretch but he is otherwise to a degree that overall he is clearly major league talent but one for whom FIP will be not just useless but very misleading? Seems perfectly plausible .
   61. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 25, 2012 at 11:11 PM (#4332354)
@robert: So in lieu of discussing the issue, you just call people names? And you dare to call someone ELSE a buffoon? You're funny.
   62. DL from MN Posted: December 26, 2012 at 12:12 AM (#4332359)
FIP is assuming that Liriano's results are randomly distributed. They aren't. He strikes everyone out until someone gets on and then he walks three guys and gives up a home run.
   63. jyjjy Posted: December 26, 2012 at 01:30 AM (#4332368)
Yeah, that sounds like what I was getting at. I remember thinking something similar of Johnson one his years with the Yankees. He was magnificent with no one on base then would just fall apart when anyone got on in sadly consistent and predictable fashion.
   64. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 26, 2012 at 07:47 AM (#4332380)
FIP is assuming that Liriano's results are randomly distributed. They aren't. He strikes everyone out until someone gets on and then he walks three guys and gives up a home run.
Right. Since returning from Tommy John surgery, these are Liriano's splits with the bases empty and men on:

235/321/362 (400/175 K/BB, 1688 PA) - Bases Empty
282/362/439 (269/142 K/BB, 1340 PA) - Men On

I'm not saying this absolutely could not be a fluke, and there is a not insignificant BABIP component to the split, but that's a ton of plate appearances distributed over a bunch of seasons. And Twins fans have proposed an entirely reasonable hypothesis for the cause, based on observation. I definitely prefer the "can't pitch out of the stretch" explanation over the "unlucky for five seasons running" explanation.
   65. vivaelpujols Posted: December 26, 2012 at 08:29 AM (#4332382)
Liriano has a career 3.42 FIP with the bases empty ad a 4.14 FIP with runners on. That doesn't strike me as an abnormally big split at all considering most pitchers are worse with runners on. Check out the 2012 league split:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=p&lg=MLB&year=2012#bases

I definitely prefer the "can't pitch out of the stretch" explanation over the "unlucky for five seasons running" explanation.


Maybe it's a little of both? Why are people insisting on picking one or the other. We know that pitcher can get unlucky for many seasons and we know that certain things (especially BABIP) are hardly predictive even after half a career:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14293

If Liriano has an ERA of 4.8 the past 4 years and a FIP of 4.0, it's most likely his true talent was somewhere around 4.4 (or some other number in between).

   66. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 26, 2012 at 08:37 AM (#4332383)
Also, on FIP/DIPS, I'm seeing one of the early FIP/DIPS mistakes repeated in this thread. It is not the case that "major league quality" pitchers have little variance in hit prevention skill.

In fact, there are highly significant differences between MLB pitchers in their hit prevention abilities. The problem is that this ability is extremely difficult to isolate in samples smaller than 3-5 seasons of pitching. A one-year sample of BABIP is not good evidence of a pitcher's skill in hit prevention. So two things can be true at once - (a) one season of FIP is a better estimate of pitcher skill than one season of ERA, and (b) FIP's assumptions about the lack of variance among MLB pitchers in hit prevention skill are not correct.

Not only do pitchers vary significantly in hit prevention skill, but they vary around a range not dissimilar from the range of pitcher variance in K/9 and BB/9. That sounds crazy, because of course BABIP appears to be highly constrained - even position players pitching keep BABIP around .340 or so, and almost all major league pitchers fall in the .280-.310 band. But BABIP and K/9, when scaled to runs, vary similarly.

Take a league averagish pitcher with a league average 7.5 K/9 in 180 innings. If he improves his K/9 to 8.5, now well above league average, he'll project to prevent about give up about six fewer runs. Now take a league average pitcher with a .295 BABIP in 180 innings. If he improves his BABIP to .285, now well above league average, he'll project to give up about five fewer runs. 10 points of BABIP is worth only slightly less than 1 K/9. That band of roughly 30 BABIP points in which most pitchers fall scales to the roughly 3 K/9 band in which most SP at least fall.

See Allen, Hsu, Tangotiger, "Solving DIPS". And for especially fun reference, see Tango's spreadsheet of regressed hit prevention skill, for pitchers with >500 TBF.
   67. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 26, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4332385)
That doesn't strike me as an abnormally big split at all considering most pitchers are worse with runners on. Check out the 2012 league split:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=p&lg=MLB&year=2012#bases
You have to isolate two separate factors here - the first is that pitchers do seem to pitch worse from the stretch, but also worse pitchers allow more baserunners and will be over-represented in the "men on" number, under-represented in the "bases empty" number.
I definitely prefer the "can't pitch out of the stretch" explanation over the "unlucky for five seasons running" explanation.

Maybe it's a little of both?
Yes. That is indeed what I think, and I expressed myself poorly. If we're both saying that Liriano's splits should be regressed toward league average by some rate scaled to PA, but his splits should not simply be replaced with league average splits when making a projection, then we agree.
   68. vivaelpujols Posted: December 26, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4332390)
You have to isolate two separate factors here - the first is that pitchers do seem to pitch worse from the stretch, but also worse pitchers allow more baserunners and will be over-represented in the "men on" number, under-represented in the "bases empty" number.


Good point.

(a) one season of FIP is a better estimate of pitcher skill than one season of ERA, and (b) FIP's assumptions about the lack of variance among MLB pitchers in hit prevention skill are not correct.


Agree with this. Like I've been saying you're always going to weigh K:BB and ERA in some manner. As sample size goes up, you weigh ERA more. It seems like we agree, and I can't think of any other way of interpreting DIPS. The problem is of course what the weights are. Per the link above, even after Liriano's 3500 career PA we'd still regress his BABIP 50% to the mean. And of course there's the problem of him being post surgery. If you just take his past 4 seasons you wanna regress his BABIP like 70% to the mean. I'm guessing runners on splits take less time to stabilize, but I can't find any research on that.
   69. Ron J2 Posted: December 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM (#4333252)
And pitchers with different profiles will strand runners differently.


Totally plausible, but I haven't seen a study which addresses the whole "clutch pitching" issue.

I think there's an aspect of talking past each other going on with JR and everybody else.

FIP absolutely should not be used when it comes to figuring out the value of a pitcher's contribution.

RA+ adjusted for the quality of team defense (and yes, this is tricky. At the extremes, Sid Fernandez and Greg Maddux are going to give up a very different distribution of chances) is the way to go in evaluating the value of a season. Whether or not a pitcher's strand rate is a one year aberration or an actual ability level is of no importance when you're talking value.

Incidentally, I think you'll find that the best projections are an aggregation of the systems mentioned in the thread -- and they still have a pretty big error.

   70. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4333256)
Totally plausible, but I haven't seen a study which addresses the whole "clutch pitching" issue.

Is there somebody who thinks there's no such thing as clutch pitching?
   71. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: December 27, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4333274)
FIP is what the actually pitcher did. ERA is what the pitcher, the team defense, and the team bullpen all did together, as substantially modified by the personal interpretation of not-necessarily-impartial-nor-competent observers.


FIP is part of what the pitcher actually did.

edit: cokes all round.

edit2: "I said that FIP is what the pitcher actually did. True statement."

Nope. It represents part of what the pitcher actually did. Huge differences.
   72. Ron J2 Posted: December 27, 2012 at 06:26 PM (#4333276)
#70 I don't think there's any question that there are clutch results. What's open to question is whether it's an ability, noise or (my educated guess -- I looked at this in a non-systemic way years ago when the data was hard to gather) some combination of the two.

I'm guessing it's about 80% noise/20% actual ability and even at the relatively low signal to noise ratio it's still important.
   73. greenback calls it soccer Posted: December 27, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4333283)
I don't think there's any question that there are clutch results. What's open to question is whether it's an ability, noise or (my educated guess -- I looked at this in a non-systemic way years ago when the data was hard to gather) some combination of the two.

This is where PitchFX could be useful. A starting pitcher can't dial it up to 98 all game long, nor can he throw a devastating curveball all game long.
   74. Walt Davis Posted: December 27, 2012 at 06:58 PM (#4333293)
Paulino pitched as many innings as Sanchez 2011-2012 (~170), so I'm not sure why you're filing him in the injured list.

a) I probably misread his KC 2011 line as his full line
b) He made only 7 ML and 3 ml starts in 2012 which looks like an injury to me.
c) I wasn't aware Sanchez had been hurt, I assumed he was pulled for sucking but he doesn't seem to have had much ml time

But fine, call Paulino a partial success.

This is the key thing, you have to look at guys who pitched 600+ innings, not guys who pitched 250 innings like Rich Hill (almost all of his career innings came in 2006 and 2007)

Well, no. The question was whether Liriano is a "ML quality pitcher". To determine that you need to compare him to ML and AAAA pitchers to see where he falls. If he is truly "ML quality" he should easily outpitch the AAA guys. He doesn't.

It was further claimed that his 8 K/9 showed he's "ML quality". That list shows this is bollocks.

I found pitchers with similar peripherals to Liriano. As it turned out, I was even lucky enough to find guys with fairly similar UER rates. Most of them continued to do badly.

The only reason to expect Liriano to do better than he has over the last two years is his FIP. I have found pitchers with similar peripherals and similar (some worse, some better) ERA+s as Liriano and shown that they generally continue to post lousy ERA+s or are hurt or get tossed out of the majors. I am asking you to find pitchers with similar peripherals (and age) to Liriano with similar FIP/ERA mismatches who went on to record results in line with their FIP not their ERA.

What happens if you look at all pitchers with 600+ IP, 8+ K/9, 4+ BB/9, ERA+ <=100 from ages 24-30 (or some broader range)?

You tell me, I'm tired of doing all the work when you can't be bothered to try to prove your claim.

And I ####### did this for pitchers aged 25-28 and you get three: Randy Johnson, Jonathan Sanchez and Francisco Liriano. You even quoted this. You really think you're going to get a substantially larger group by expanding the age range?

Don't worry though, see what a nice guy I am, in descending ERA+ order:

dlR
Sanchez
Ollie
Liriano

dlR is the only guy with a post-30 season so far, 11 IP in 2012. So Liriano and possibly Sanchez could pitch their way off the list.

The next best ERA+ on the list is Nomo at 105. He had pretty lousy results at 28 and 29, bounced back to league average, 2 good seasons, then done.

Following him is Dice K at 108. From ages 28-31 he threw 300 innings of 80 ERA+.

JR Richard at 111 -- a) he had a stroke and b) 8 K/9 was a real man in those days.

Ubaldo Jimenez at 112 -- still only 29 in 2013, his 2011-12 is 365 IP of 82 ERA+

Sam McDowell at 112 -- man, this is a depressing list of pitchers ... 29 to 32, 380 IP of 87 ERA+

Finally you get Johnson and Ryan who had turned themselves into real pitchers by age 30 and had ERA+s of 113 and 115.

Top of the heap is Kerry Wood at 120 who kept getting hurt but generally continued to post good results.

It's probably misleading to comp a guy who's only going to be 29 to guys who have already had their 29-30 seasons. If you look at 24-28 instead of 24-30, still 600 IP, you lose some of those guys, Randy Johnson looks like Jonathan Sanchez and you add Park (108) and Langston (109). Park turned to crap and started getting hurt at 29, Langston remained good for several seasons.

So, sorry, high-K, high-BB pitchers with poor performance in their mid-late 20s generally seem to mostly continue to have poor performance -- or cut their BB rate in nearly half and turn into Randy Johnson. Even most of the ones with above-average results seem to have turned into crap or gotten hurt.

You might do better to look at era-adjusted K and BB rates of course but there's no way for me to do that.

The most likely thing of course is that Liriano never fully recovered from his injury.

I don't know if it means anything but I was glancing at his career splits and his H/R splits are massive. An ERA over 1 run higher, K/B over 1 lower, BABIP 25 points higher on the road. The dome and Target both seem to be slight pitchers parks (at a glance) but not to that extent. Does that ring any bells for anybody?

I think 150 innings sounds right. I'd expect an ERA+ of at least 90. I'm guessing ZIPS has him around there when it comes out. Even if you're just doing a 5-4-3 weighted by innings ERA+ projection, you'd get like an 87 ERA+.

Well, 150 IP of 90 ERA+ is not a good pitcher, is borderline ML quality and is not a pitcher you sign for 2/$14. And yes, a 3-year projection will look "good" for Liriano because it includes his strong 2010. In most cases that's fine and always a legit part of the projection. But in Liriano's case, that strong 2010 was preceded by a 76 ERA+ which is right in line with what he did 2011-12. That strong 2010 is also largely a product of an extremely low HR rate which is well out of line with anything before or after and a low BB rate which is completely out of line with 2009, 11 and 12 (but a very high BABIP in 2010). Anyway, 2010 is a pretty big outlier in Liriano's recent performance and I would recommend downweighting it substantially.

And we know that A) Liriano has given up far fewer unearned runs than average,

I covered that! Most of the comps I offered also gave up far fewer unearned runs than average, a couple even less so than Liriano.

B) his peripherals are far better than that which I know you can't be weighting at zero in the calculation.

I comped him to guys with similar peripherals.

I'm not sure you understand the point of the debate. His peripherals are only "better" if FIP is a good model for guys like Liriano. If high-K, high-BB pitchers who post lousy ERAs continue to post lousy ERAs (or get hurt or are out of the majors) then there is no justification to expect Liriano to pitch to his FIP.

Show me high-K, high-BB pitchers of a similar age with ERA substantially worse than FIP who then went on to pitch to their FIP. I'd be especially interested in ones who did so without lowering the BB rate substantially. The reason Randy Johnson became a great pitcher is because he doubled his K/BB (while K'ing 3-4 more per 9 than Liriano). If Liriano can post 2010 K and BB numbers, he'll be a much better pitcher -- he could become Javier Vazquez! :-)

But if all we're arguing over is 150 IP of 80 ERA+ vs 150 IP of 90 ERA+ then what are we arguing over? If FIP is saying he's a solid 5th starter and ERA+ is saying he's a lousy 5th starter -- that's all within prediction error. Still not a guy you sign for 2/$14.
   75. thetailor Posted: December 27, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4333300)
Walt -- a little difficult to read, but interesting stuff. Thanks for looking it all up. You've got me mostly convinced (except I don't think the comparison to Oliver Perez holds, as I don't think you can hand-wave away a discrepancy of ~1.5 BB/9)
   76. DL from MN Posted: December 27, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4333314)
Liriano has a career 3.42 FIP with the bases empty ad a 4.14 FIP with runners on


Can't use career numbers. He was great until a couple years ago and lost control of his slider from the stretch. Use the last 2 seasons unless you think he's going to return to form.

Target Field is a pitcher's park that especially favors LHP, just like Metrodome. Deep LF and really deep to the power alleys.
   77. J.R. Wolf Posted: December 30, 2012 at 01:05 AM (#4334487)
I remain convinced that ERA is a garbage dinosaur stat and a poor pitching metric, and that we are all better served by using FIP instead.

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