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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Posnanski: ERA, FIP and Kershaw

Bryce Harper’s RBI against him last night was the first this season by a lefty batter. His second-worst Game Score this year is this game (7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K). etc. etc. etc.

[Clayton] Kershaw is on pace to become just the fifth pitcher since Deadball to have a sub-2.00 ERA and FIP. The previous four are all-time seasons:

1946: Hal Newhouser, 1.94 ERA; 1.97 FIP
1963: Sandy Koufax, 1.88 ERA, 1.85 FIP
1968: Bob Gibson, 1.12 ERA, 1.77 FIP
1971: Tom Seaver, 1.76 ERA, 1.93 FIP.
2014: Clayton Kershaw, 1.70 ERA, 1.89 FIP.

Amazing stuff. Kershaw should become the first pitcher in more than 40 years to tilt ERA and FIP, only the fifth ever, a year up there in its own way with Gibson’s 1968 season. There is no shortage of ways to show just how awesome Clayton Kershaw is these days … but I like this one. Kershaw is dominant in old stats and in new ones. That could be what they mean by timeless.

The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:08 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: clayton kershaw, dodgers, history, joe posnanski

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   1. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4784635)
Was talking to a friend at work yesterday about Kershaw.

This season he has given up 0 er in a game (8 times) more often than he has given up 2 or more.

edit: and given up more than 3 er only once.
   2. Batman Posted: September 03, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4784636)
Kershaw has a 45:1 K:BB ratio when Drew Butera is catching, but his other numbers are better when A.J. Ellis is catching.
   3. DCA Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:03 PM (#4784661)
I was just looking at his game logs earlier today. Kershaw has QS in 21 of 23 starts this year. The time he gave up 7 runs in <2 innings in May (Dodgers lost 18-7, so it might have been wind and weather), and a 5 inning complete game (gave up only 1 run, got the win).
   4. DCA Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4784664)
Without the one disaster start, Kershaw's ERA would be 1.34.

He's only 8 K behind Strasburg for the league lead as well. Potential for a second triple crown.
   5. The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4784667)
I will point out that, although the second-worst start thing is still cool to me, it's probably not unusual for someone who is pitching so well overall. Bill James had an interesting (subscriber-only, sadly) article about this. He came up with a more sophisticated Game Score-like system (incorporating run environment and opponent) that ranks starts from 1 to 10. He says:
what I had never understood, until doing this study. . ..and it is absolutely amazing that I never understood this, because it is an extremely fundamental truth about the game, which I had somehow unaccountably missed up until this point.   Dominant pitchers almost never actually have bad games.    I never knew that.   Guys like Koufax, Carlton, Gibson, Pedro, the Big Unit, Gooden when he was good. ..they almost never actually have bad games.   They lose sometimes, because sometimes they run up against another pitcher having an equally good day, and sometimes they give up a few runs because they may be pitching against a good team in a good hitter’s park or something.   But in terms of just having a bad day. . .they almost never do.   Their Good Game/Bad Game percentage is actually very close to 1.000.

Suppose we count every start that scores at "6" or above as a "Good Game", and every start at "4" or below as a "Bad Game", and every start at "5" as a No Decision.   An average Good Game percentage is .500.     Randy Johnson in 1997 was 25-0.   He did have four no-decisions—four games that scored at "5" on a 10-point scale—but no actual bad games. 

Randy was the only pitcher who was perfect in more than 12 starts, but Pedro Martinez in various seasons was 27-1, 27-1, 28-3 and 24-4.    Randy was 31-1 in 2001.   Bob Gibson was 30-1 in 1968 and 30-3 in 1969.    Greg Maddux in different seasons was 24-2, 23-2 and 25-4.   Another pitcher, who I will discuss later, was 34-1 in one season; in other seasons he was 35-5 and 21-3.   Sandy Koufax in his big four seasons was 32-8, 23-2, 35-5 and 34-5.    Sometimes these guys lose, but it’s not because they don’t pitch well.   They pitch well every time out.
(The 34-1 guy was Steve Carlton in... 1980.)
   6. zonk Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:28 PM (#4784682)
Yeah, so he's pretty good....

And I hate it because back in 2009 - I was talking deadline roto trade with another guy and after an enormous amount of haggling, it came down to choosing which of the two young Dodger pitchers he had... I chose Chad Billingsley over Kershaw.

Sigh.

At least the haul he got was a prospect package centered around Fernando Martinez and matt Gamel...
   7. DCA Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:31 PM (#4784687)
Since 2011, Kershaw's been a decent enough hitter for a pitcher: 198/246/225/471 (this year he's not flashed the power, 173/246/173/419).

His OPS against is 191/225/291/516. He was actually close last year: 521 OPS allowed, 501 OPS batting.

What's the last time that a pitcher (in say 50+ PA, so no Nick Tepesch kinda sucks but he went 1 for 2 and has a 1000 OPS) has hit better than he's allowed? What's the worst pitching season where that happened? Worst pitcher hitting season?

Does the Play Index let you mix pitching and pitcher hitting? We'll see ...

   8. kthejoker Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4784692)
What's the last time that a pitcher (in say 50+ PA, so no Nick Tepesch kinda sucks but he went 1 for 2 and has a 1000 OPS) has hit better than he's allowed?


Probably not the last time, but a floor: Bob Gibson, 1970: .303/.347/.404/.751 in 124 PAs as a hitter versus .237/.293/.319/.612 against as a pitcher.

EDIT: Also Gibson in 72, .600 OPS versus .589 against.
   9. PreservedFish Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4784699)
Didn't Grienke do it last year? I bet it's pretty common. I bet that Zambrano, Willis, Hampton etc all did it.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4784701)
Jose Fernandez did it last year (.522 allowed, .556 at bat).

Micah Owings and Carlos Zambrano hit better than they allowed on several occasions, though it was mostly because they raked. Hell, Owings did it for his career (.767 vs .813).

It's not that uncommon.

As for Kershaw, he now has the lowest career ERA of any starting pitcher who debuted in the last 100 years.
   11. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4784702)
Mike Hampton did it 3 times ('99, '01, '02). In 2002 he did it despite being a below replacement level pitcher.
   12. DCA Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:44 PM (#4784704)
I think it's pretty common too. Owings in 2007 (OPS > 1000) certainly did. But best/worst would be interesting.
   13. Batman Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:45 PM (#4784705)
Gooden did it in 1985. Also, he had a 2.667 OPS in 1999.
   14. Booey Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:48 PM (#4784708)
He's only 8 K behind Strasburg for the league lead as well. Potential for a second triple crown.


That'd be cool. Isn't Clemens the only pitcher from the last 40 years to do it twice?

Speaking of Triple Crowns, anyone else notice that both Giancarlo Stanton in the NL and Jose Abreu in the AL have an outside shot? A couple hot weeks and a slight slump from their competitors (mainly in batting average) and it could happen. Hell, the NL batting champ could have the lowest average for a league leader since Yaz in 1968.
   15. DCA Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:50 PM (#4784712)
I did notice that about Abreu. Would not have guessed Stanton (BA below 300).
   16. ReggieThomasLives Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4784713)
2007 Micah Owings 1.033 OPS in 65 PAs, .765 OPS against in 152 innings, 27 starts.

+.268 differential GOAT?
   17. ReggieThomasLives Posted: September 03, 2014 at 02:58 PM (#4784718)
Oops.

Babe Ruth 1918, .966 OPS, .543 OPS against, +.423.

Once, and always, GOAT!
   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4784721)

+.268 differential GOAT?


Wes Ferrell 1931 - .994 OPS in 128 PA, .669 OPS allowed in 276 IP).

+.325 difference.

Edit: I was going to note, non-Babe division.
   19. Booey Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4784727)
I did notice that about Abreu. Would not have guessed Stanton (BA below 300).


I didn't notice either until a few days ago, due to his .295-ish average. But then I saw that with Tulo out of consideration, the NL batting leaders are only in the .310-.315 range.

With the hot streak he's been on, I actually wouldn't be surprised if Posey (who was hitting below .280 a couple weeks ago) went on to win another batting title.
   20. Sweatpants Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4784732)
Walter Johnson 1925: 1.033 OPS, .635 OPS allowed (.398)
   21. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: September 03, 2014 at 03:32 PM (#4784755)
And I hate it because back in 2009 - I was talking deadline roto trade with another guy and after an enormous amount of haggling, it came down to choosing which of the two young Dodger pitchers he had... I chose Chad Billingsley over Kershaw.


Three years ago I turned down a trade of Matt Wieters for Mike Trout because I'd heard that Trout might not stick in center field and I wanted to be sure I had my up-the-middle positions filled long-term.


PBPBPBPBPBBPBPBPBBPPBPBPBPBT
   22. Moeball Posted: September 04, 2014 at 01:30 AM (#4785134)
As for Kershaw, he now has the lowest career ERA of any starting pitcher who debuted in the last 100 years.


Interesting comparison - per BREF, Kershaw at this moment has 1349 career IP with an ERA of 2.49. It's his age 26 season.

After the 1971 season, Tom Seaver had 1379 career IP with an ERA of 2.34. 1971 was his age 26 season.

Kershaw will add more innings before the end of the season - maybe even 30 innings?

A little context:

Kershaw's 2.49 is good for a 152 ERA+
Seaver's 2.34 was good for a 149 ERA+

Also - if Kershaw finishes the season 1st in ERA, as is likely, it will be his 4th consecutive season doing that. Only Koufax with 5 consecutive seasons as league leader outpaces Kershaw.
   23. Ziggy Posted: September 04, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4785233)
Owings did the "hit better than he gave up" thing for his career as a whole. Impressive considering that he wasn't much of a pitcher. He really should have converted to position player, he really is a good hitter and probably would have been even better if he'd done it full-time.

I'd also like to point out that recently retired pitcher Jamey Carroll also pulled it off. Ditto long-retired pitcher Hal Chase, though in his case there's always the possibility that the fix was in.
   24. Yoenis Cespedes, Baseball Savant Posted: September 04, 2014 at 10:22 AM (#4785241)
It's always viscerally impressive to see that hunk of black ink on Koufax's BB-Ref page. Kershaw's getting there.

Also, Kershaw already has 40 WAR!
   25. AROM Posted: September 04, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4785243)
I'm surprised to see Kershaw has blown away Dwight Gooden. His career didn't end so well but the start of it was one of the best ever.

Gooden through 1989 (age 24) had 1291 innings. His ERA was 2.64, ERA+ of 132.
   26. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 04, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4785249)
Owings did the "hit better than he gave up" thing for his career as a whole.

so did Bob Lemon (.674-.659) and Newk (.705-.700)
   27. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 04, 2014 at 10:34 AM (#4785256)
so did Bob Lemon (.674-.659) and Newk (.705-.700)


Not surprisingly, Ferrell did too, and by a healthy margin (.797-.704).

   28. The District Attorney Posted: September 04, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4785668)
if Kershaw finishes the season 1st in ERA, as is likely, it will be his 4th consecutive season doing that.
Someone pointed this out on Twitter:

In 2012, R.A. Dickey edged out Kershaw by one strikeout. That was the year Dickey faced Adam Greenberg, who unfortunately was no longer a major league caliber player due to an earlier HBP. A social media campaign motivated the Marlins to give him a pity at-bat. Greenberg struck out.

If Dickey had instead faced someone else who hadn't struck out, then Kershaw would also be going for four straight years of leading the league in strikeouts.

(Man, I saw Dickey so much that season and I still can't believe he ever pitched that well.)
   29. shoewizard Posted: September 04, 2014 at 06:31 PM (#4785697)
Lefty grove had 4 straight, then a two year gap, then 4 of next 5 for an incredible 8 era titles in 11 years. . Lead in era+ every year he lead in era, and overall had 9 era titles. Yowsa

Earned Run Average s c a p y
1926 AL 2.51 (1st)
1927 AL 3.19 (9th)
1928 AL 2.58 (3rd)
1929 AL 2.81 (1st)
1930 AL 2.54 (1st)
1931 AL 2.06 (1st)
1932 AL 2.84 (1st)
1933 AL 3.20 (4th)
1935 AL 2.70 (1st)
1936 AL 2.81 (1st)
1937 AL 3.02 (5th)
1938 AL 3.08 (1st)
1939 AL 2.54 (1st)
Career 3.06 (182nd)

Adjusted ERA+ s c a p y
1926 AL 165 (1st)
1927 AL 132 (8th)
1928 AL 155 (2nd)
1929 AL 149 (1st)
1930 AL 185 (1st)
1931 AL 217 (1st)
1932 AL 160 (1st)
1933 AL 134 (3rd)
1935 AL 175 (1st)
1936 AL 189 (1st)
1937 AL 159 (4th)
1938 AL 160 (1st)
1939 AL 185 (1st)
Career 148 (5th)




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