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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kornacki: Making a Cy Young Award case for Verlander

Uhh, getting off his cycle long enough…Steve Kornacki introduces his Pitching Quotient stat.

But let’s look at the case for Verlander:

He was 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA and a league-leading 239 strikeouts. Verlander, at 7.5, also had the runaway best Wins Above Replacement rating of any pitcher in the league. Rounding out the top five are Price (6.4); Matt Harrison, Rangers (6.2); Chris Sale, White Sox (5.7); and Felix Hernandez, Mariners (4.6). Ratings of 8.0 or above are MVP quality and 5.0-plus is All-Star worthy.

This statistic is all the rage with sabermetricians, who have concocted it by pouring oodles of numbers into a formula that takes every player quality under the sun into consideration and spits out a rating that few understand. Angels outfielder Mike Trout’s MVP candidacy is being touted largely because of his major league-leading 10.7 WAR rating.

Hey, if it’s being used by some to deny Tigers Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera the MVP, why not use it to win the Cy Young for Verlander? Turnabout, after all, is fair play.

I have my own formula, just devised, to make an even better case for Verlander: Pitching Quotient. It gives equal weight to wins, earned-run average, strikeouts, WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and WAR. I’m proposing this rating system because most can’t agree on which pitching statistic is most important.

...Based on the statistical split decision, the Cy Young race should be a tossup. That’s where the Pitching Quotient comes into play as an evaluation tool.

Here’s how it works: Award 5 points to the league leader in each of these categories—wins, earned-run average, strikeouts, WHIP and WAR—and scale down from there: 4 points for second, 3 points for third, 2 points for fourth and 1 point for fifth. Then total the points for each pitcher and divide it by five, for the number of categories, to get their average point total. A pitcher finishing first in each statistic would rate a 5.0.

Verlander, with 3.9 points on the Pitcher Quotient, is the easy winner. Price is second at 3.1 and Weaver third at 2.5.

Repoz Posted: November 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, sabermetrics

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: November 11, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4300071)
Angels outfielder Mike Trout’s MVP candidacy is being touted largely because of his major league-leading 10.7 WAR rating.


Wrong.
   2. Obo Posted: November 11, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4300091)
Here’s how it works: Award 5 points to the league leader in each of these categories—wins, earned-run average, strikeouts, WHIP and WAR—and scale down from there: 4 points for second, 3 points for third, 2 points for fourth and 1 point for fifth. Then total the points for each pitcher and divide it by five, for the number of categories, to get their average point total.


This is satire, right?
   3. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: November 11, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4300109)
I don't think they want to give to JV two years in a row, and getting embarrassed in the WS doesn't help.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: November 11, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4300113)
I don't think they want to give to JV two years in a row, and getting embarrassed in the WS doesn't help.


The latter won't matter (the voting being completed before the regular season ended), and the former's never been much of an impediment in the Cy.

It's a two-man race in the AL, and neither winner would surprise me (I'd give a very slight edge to Price, gutly speaking).

   5. I Am Not a Number Posted: November 11, 2012 at 04:45 PM (#4300141)
Mr. Kornacki is simply unskewing the numbers, a la Dean Chambers. And then he's adding five arbitrary numbers together, applying equal weight to each, and calling the sum a quotient. What could possibly be wrong with any of that???

Kids, stay in school. If you don't, we'll have to make you a sports writer.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: November 11, 2012 at 08:59 PM (#4300276)
OK, let's see:

WAR: JV 5, DP 4, Harrison 3, Sale 2, Kuroda 1 (using bWAR)
ERA: DP 5, JV 4, Weaver 3, CS 2, Felix 1
Wins: DP 4.5, JW 4.5, MH 3, CS 1.5, JV 1.5
WHIP: JW 5, JV 4, Peavy 3, DP 2, CS 1
Ks: JV 5, Scherzer 4, Shields & Felix 2, Darvish 1

So Verlander wins on this silly measure because of Ks -- Price is ahead 15.5 to 14.5 to that point. Not that there's anything wrong with that but it's a bit silly to rail against WAR or other modern pitching stats then let it all come down to Ks, the backbone of fancy pants pitching stats.

It's a bit odd that innings don't enter directly into this silly measure. They come indirectly via WAR and Ks (and possibly wins).

Anyway, it's not at all hard to make the case for Verlander, in fact I hadn't realized that anybody was making a case against him. Price beats him in ERA but that's only a .08 difference (and Verlander wins on ERA+). Verlander has 27 more innings which is not insignificant. He leads in Ks, K/9, K/BB and CGs over Price. The only category where Price beats him is wins ... if you're not going to let wins play a major role in your CYA decision, you are already a saber-oriented CYA voter.

Basically Verlander beat or equalled Price on every performance measure and threw 27 more innings. It's close but if A performed as well as B in more playing time, A wins.
   7. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4300359)
It's a bit odd that innings don't enter directly into this silly measure.

In Kornacki's (weak) defense, he does at least mention Verlander's innings in the article and it seems like he values them.

But, yeah, this whole exercise is pretty silly and mathematically illiterate, even if it does come up with an answer that is completely supportable.

I do think Price is likely to win the award and won't be upset if it happens (I'm a Tiger fan but had Price on my fantasy team), but I would vote for Verlander myself for exactly the reasons Walt describes.

Based on "quality of innings" (ERA, WHIP, K/BB, etc.), the top guys are all pretty close. Verlander wasn't clearly the best pitcher on a per-inning basis -- in fact, he finishes second or third in most of the rate categories -- and there are reasonable arguments to be made for Price (ERA) or Weaver (WHIP) as the "most effective" pitcher in the AL. But when you look at quantity of innings -- also very important, which is why I don't consider Weaver (188.2 IP) a serious Cy Young contender -- Verlander has a significant advantage over everyone except King Felix.

For me, it comes down to Price vs. Verlander, and I think Verlander's IP advantage outweighs Price's ERA advantage. If you dig even deeper into the stats, looking at quality of defense, park factors, and quality of opponents, I expect Verlander looks even stronger.
   8. Bug Selig Posted: November 12, 2012 at 08:01 AM (#4300445)
I need Hooked on Phonics. I was all set to scold Walt for saying 3 full games worth of innings (by the best pitchers in the game, no less) is insignificant.

Glad I re-read it:-)
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 12, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4300502)
If you dig even deeper into the stats, looking at quality of defense, park factors, and quality of opponents, I expect Verlander looks even stronger.
This is the really big one. Tampa once again played excellent defense, and the Tigers had Austin Jackson as their only good glove on the field for large percentage of their games.
   10. JL Posted: November 12, 2012 at 03:47 PM (#4300726)
Anyway, it's not at all hard to make the case for Verlander, in fact I hadn't realized that anybody was making a case against him. Price beats him in ERA but that's only a .08 difference (and Verlander wins on ERA+).

This is what puts it over the top for Verlander for me (though I am admittedly a Tigers fan.) The ERA comes out to be one less run that Price allowed in his 211 IP. The extra 27 IP that Verlander gives with virtually no reduction in effectiveness is why I would give it to him.

That being said, I could see others deciding differently, and I would not be upset at all if Price won it.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: November 12, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4300782)
I need Hooked on Phonics.

Do they teach double negatives in Hooked on Phonics? It's about time! :-)
   12. Moeball Posted: November 12, 2012 at 05:42 PM (#4300832)
If you dig even deeper into the stats, looking at quality of defense, park factors, and quality of opponents, I expect Verlander looks even stronger.


The Park Factor giveth (Verlander) and the Park Factor taketh away (Cabrera).

Since Comerica played as a slight hitter's park this year, once you factor in the park adjustments, you don't even really need the baserunning and defense to make a case for Mike Trout in the MVP discussion with Cabrera. Trout essentially hit as well or better than Cabrera once you neutralize the park effects.

At least that's what the 2012 numbers say. If you don't believe in one-year park effects but are more in line with multi-year adjustments, your results may vary.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: November 12, 2012 at 11:12 PM (#4301043)
At least that's what the 2012 numbers say. If you don't believe in one-year park effects but are more in line with multi-year adjustments, your results may vary.

Not really:

Det 1-year batting: 104 ... multi-year: 104
Ana 1-year batting: 91 ... multi-year: 92

You just have to believe they're wrong. And not conclusive but interesting:

MC on road: 327/384/529, 16 HR
MT on road: 332/402/544, 14 HR

Cabrera's home numbers are actually quite similar except for the 360 ISO.

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