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Friday, September 13, 2019

In era of analytics, Astros aces Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are keeping it old-school

And in this age of analytics, Verlander insists, it’s time to quantify the amount of innings a starter provides. He has pitched at least 200 innings in all but one season since his rookie year, leading the major leagues three times and once again this season.

“You can’t put a number on it because people can’t quantify how valuable it is,’’ Verlander says. “But the second they can put a number on an inning, and how valuable it is, it would be dramatic. Just saving the bullpen, the impact those extra innings have, and what that means, I don’t think anybody has ever tried to tackle that, I think it’s valuable. Extremely valuable.’’...

This is why it’s mind-boggling that in this era, it’s not so much the strikeouts Cole and Verlander are compiling, but the fact that fewer than one baserunner an inning is reaching base. While Cole values his quality starts and innings the most, Verlander’s favorite stat is WHIP.

“Gerrit and I have talked about this a lot,’’ Verlander said. “I think WAR is a pretty fickle number for starting pitchers, but the WHIP, that’s our job, to limit baserunners. The batting average against is a nice stat, but if you’re walking three or four batters per nine innings, the way batters now count a hit as good as a walk for OPS, those walks might as well be hits.

“Call me old-fashioned, but I still like ERA, too.’’

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 13, 2019 at 08:26 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: gerrit cole, justin verlander

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   1. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:12 AM (#5878886)
And in this age of analytics, Verlander insists, it’s time to quantify the amount of innings a starter provides.
So bear with me, I'm just spitballing here, but what if we...I don't know, added them up and reported league leaders and stuff??
   2. JJ1986 Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:17 AM (#5878888)
Isn't Cole one of the guys the Astros rebuilt with analytics?
   3. flournoy Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5878889)
So bear with me, I'm just spitballing here, but what if we...I don't know, added them up and reported league leaders and stuff??


That was poorly worded by the author of the article. What Verlander wants is different, and kind of hard to define. It sounds like he wants to quantify the ripple-effect of an inning pitched on a team's pitching staff. How much do you save other pitchers' arms by throwing another inning. Maybe even how much service time do you prevent potential minor league call-ups from accruing by not requiring their services. That sort of stuff.
   4. Itchy Row Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:22 AM (#5878891)
It doesn't sound like they're actually opposed to analytics, but Bob Nightengale strung together a few quotes to support his "Get your head out of the spreadsheet and watch a game" crusade. He really hates the stat that says Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole should pitch fewer innings. I think it's abbreviated STRAWMAN+.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5878894)
Bob Nightengale strung together a few quotes to support his "Get your head out of the spreadsheet and watch a game" crusade

He did this a week or two ago also. He's nearing Full Chass level.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:44 AM (#5878898)
He's nearing Full Chass level.

Never go full Chass.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: September 13, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5879011)
Innings are valued through replacement value (which, granted, is not explicitly listed for pitchers in bWAR or fWAR tables I don't think). The "ripple" effect is primarily captured in RAA -- i.e. did you pitch that inning better than an average guy. You have the issue that, on average, relievers pitch better than starters (until this year) so it's hard to say that an extra inning out of Verlander "saves" the team very much. In practice, yes, probably a small effect because that extra inning not pitched by a SP is usually going to a not-so-good RP. Still, that's what RAA is about -- if Verlander in the 7th is a better pitcher than the guy who'd pitch it otherwise, that would show up in RAA. But the fact that the guy who would have pitched the 7th is now fresher for tomorrow's game -- or, joy of joys, he and the 8th inning guy can now both be used in the 8th -- is not really captured.

Anyway, I don't think Verlander needs an extra .001 WAR per inning to make his case. This sort of argument is better-suited to the Mike Leakes of the world who are not great pitchers but are OK and will give you 180 a year which helps keep some of the really crappy pitchers off the field.

Anyway, let's just consider it another sign of the fall of civilization that a pitcher averaging 6.2 IP per start for 30+ starts per year is bragging about how deep into games he goes.
   8. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 13, 2019 at 05:18 PM (#5879014)

But the fact that the guy who would have pitched the 7th is now fresher for tomorrow's game -- or, joy of joys, he and the 8th inning guy can now both be used in the 8th -- is not really captured.

Yes, I think this is what Verlander's getting at. Starters who consistently give you innings let you rest your bullpen a bit, which not only reduces innings you need to give to your worst pitchers, but maybe helps keep those bullpen arms fresher and limits injuries.

It's also probably worth thinking about whether our replacement level for pitchers is correct now that teams are using more and more pitchers over the course of the season. Teams have already used 130 more pitchers than they did 5 years ago, and the number increases each season. Those 130 guys used to be the hypothetical "replacement level"; now maybe it's the next group of guys.
   9. Darren Posted: September 13, 2019 at 05:27 PM (#5879019)
That's a really good point by Verlander and I think it's part of why I think the value stats are currently overrating the value of relievers at the expense of starters.
   10. Bhaakon Posted: September 13, 2019 at 10:17 PM (#5879067)
Yeah, it's less anti-stats and more of a strategy vs tactics argument, I suppose. Or different levels of tactics.
   11. Sunday silence Posted: September 14, 2019 at 04:14 AM (#5879090)
yes it is a good pt. and wouldn't the most obvious way to quantify that be to draw a curve of IP vs ERA+ or whatever stat and then once that curve starts to drop off at 200 inn. or 220 inn. or 250 inn. then you can determine how many runs each inn. is worth. Similar to what we understand as "aging curves." Right? Everyone believes in aging curves, yes? Its obvious. Why wouldnt there be a curve for overwork or something.

Walter seems to acknowledge there's an effect in post 7 then sort of declines to speculate on how we would quantify it.

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