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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tony Paul: WAR is no way to settle Miguel Cabrera vs. Mike Trout MVP debate

Or as Jason C. achingly points out…“my head hurts after reading this”.

I’ve had folks tell me lately that even if Cabrera wins baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967, Trout remains the MVP pick. My apologies. I simply cannot comprehend that.

But fans of Sabermetrics, these new-age stats that attempt to give you an all-around worth of a player, actually will tell you — and with a straight face! — that batting average and RBIs are irrelevant today.

There might — might — be the case with batting average, because that doesn’t necessarily tell you how clutch or how much of a run producer a player is. There were some in Seattle who thought Ichiro Suzuki could have hit many more home runs, but didn’t because he wanted his batting average to stay sky high.

But RBIs? Really? Irrelevant? The critics like to say that’s only a measurement of how often guys get on ahead of you. Well, to that I have a two-word response: Delmon Young.

...Now, I ask you, is that an MVP? That’s for 28 of my peers to decide; I don’t have an MVP vote this year.

But if that is an MVP, then let me say this: Voters better be consistent and make Tigers ace Justin Verlander the Cy Young winner for a second straight year, because he leads the major leagues in WAR, too, not contenders Felix Hernandez or David Price.

By the way, here’s another thing FanGraphs’ WAR tells us, folks: Anibal Sanchez (3.1) and Rick Porcello (2.9) are worth more to their team than Angels ace Jered Weaver (2.7) is to his. Never mind that Weaver is 18-4 with a 2.79 ERA. What do those stats matter anymore?

Repoz Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:23 AM | 180 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: awards, mvp

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   101. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4244196)
There's no reason one has to be a "FIP person" or an "ERA person"


I think this gets at the main point that many people are missing, when it comes to the criticism of fWAR for pitchers. Neither ERA nor FIP tells you everything you need. The problem is that many people don't seem to realize that bWAR vs. fWAR is not the same as ERA vs. FIP. bWAR is fairly well-thought out and designed specifically to avoid the pitfalls of both ERA and FIP; fWAR is lazily dependent on FIP as if it was the end-all stat for pitchers. So when I say that fWAR is bad for pitchers because it is based on FIP, that's not to say it should be based on ERA; it means that it should be better than both ERA and FIP, like bWAR.
   102. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4244198)
Not exactly; FIP specifically is scaled in a distorted way to make it appear as something it is strictly not, namely an ERA equivalent. This is because the original DIPS theory was for ERA predition. Also, it is reverse engineered in a non-intuitive formula with superficially arbitrary weights for a specific purpose, unlike OBP and SLG which are ostensibly just measuring something basic in a very basic way.


Alright, the scaling is problematic (if we're saying FIP is a record). But it's also just a constant added to everyone's number so it can be ignored. Other than that, FIP is pretty similar to slugging, assigning weights to three different things that actually happened and then dividing by opportunities (IP or AB).
   103. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4244211)
When you guys say performance you have to specify whose performance. Are you comfortable giving credit to the pitcher for something that batter or defense did? Let's say you get two identical pitches by the same guy and one is a home run and one is a foul ball. Do you think he performed better on the foul ball one?
   104. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4244218)
Alright, the scaling is problematic (if we're saying FIP is a record). But it's also just a constant added to everyone's number so it can be ignored. Other than that, FIP is pretty similar to slugging, assigning weights to three different things that actually happened and then dividing by opportunities (IP or AB).


Not really. Slugging is just TB/AB. It is incredibly simple and straight forward, and in plain terms tells you exactly how many bases a player can be expected to accrue every time he gets an at bat. FIP is based on nerd-derived (I say this with love) weightings that have no obvious connection to reality.
   105. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4244219)
When you guys say performance you have to specify whose performance. Are you comfortable giving credit to the pitcher for something that batter or defense did? Let's say you get two identical pitches by the same guy and one is a home run and one is a foul ball. Do you think he performed better on the foul ball one?

Sure. His job isn't to make good pitches; it's to prevent hits and runs.

And as an account of what happened, we care about the result, not the pitch "quality."

   106. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4244222)
When you guys say performance you have to specify whose performance. Are you comfortable giving credit to the pitcher for something that batter or defense did? Let's say you get two identical pitches by the same guy and one is a home run and one is a foul ball. Do you think he performed better on the foul ball one?


I think this is oversimplistic; a pitcher has an effect on the batter, beyond just the pitch f/x of the specific pitch. Also, your example isn't relevant for a discussion of FIP, since a HR will negatively affect both FIP and ERA.

Regardless, I think it is obvious that you have to adjust for defense, and you have to adjust for the pitcher's level of competition. bWAR attempts this in a very thorough way. fWAR takes FIP and lazily assumes that merely using that one stat makes all these adjustments.
   107. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4244231)
Regardless, I think it is obvious that you have to adjust for defense, and you have to adjust for the pitcher's level of competition. bWAR attempts this in a very thorough way. fWAR takes FIP and lazily assumes that merely using that one stat makes all these adjustments.

Exactly.
   108. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4244233)
Are you comfortable giving credit to the pitcher for something that batter or defense did? Let's say you get two identical pitches by the same guy and one is a home run and one is a foul ball. Do you think he performed better on the foul ball one?


This still strikes me as a one-way street. If two batters get equal results from two very different pitches, one gets a hanging curve and rolls it between Arod and Jeter and the other takes a good outside pitch with movement and hits a sharp single into right, we don't consider the quality of the pitch when evaluting the hitters. They both just hit singles. It's only with pitching where we try to divvy up the responsibility for the outcome.




   109. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4244236)
I agree that bWAR does a good job of removing outside influences. The problem is that it does everything at a team level and not at an individual at bat level.

Like I said I would give some weight to bWAR and some weight to K-BB WAR. I wouldn't exclusively use one of the other.
   110. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4244237)
108/I believe there is much less variation on the quality of the pitch than on the quality of the batter outcome.
   111. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4244238)
If two batters get equal results from two very different pitches, one gets a hanging curve and rolls it between Arod and Jeter and the other takes a good outside pitch with movement and hits a sharp single into right, we don't consider the quality of the pitch when evaluting the hitters.


I think we don't consider it because it's beyond all of us, even the best statisticians, to figure this out. I'll bet teams are considering it.
   112. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4244240)
I agree that bWAR does a good job of removing outside influences. The problem is that it does everything at a team level and not at an individual at bat level.


I'm not exactly sure what you mean; how is this something fWAR does better than bWAR?

I think fWAR, like FIP, is something useful to look at when making predictions for the future. It is not a good stat for retrospective valuations.
   113. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4244245)
I think we don't consider it because it's beyond all of us, even the best statisticians, to figure this out. I'll bet teams are considering it.


Again, we have stats like PrOPS specifically tailored to tell us what "should have happened." All the ball-in-play data that informs xFIP and the like is available just as much for batters as it is for pitchers. It's just that no one takes it seriously for hitters, for various reasons.
   114. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4244246)
I'm not saying fWAR is better than bWAR. I'm saying both have their strenghts and weaknessness. That is why I would give them both weight when deciding on the cy young.
   115. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:41 PM (#4244247)
108/I believe there is much less variation on the quality of the pitch than on the quality of the batter outcome.

Why would you believe that? Pitcher miss their spots, hang breaking pitches, etc. all the time. Just like hitters get fooled, or take bad swings.
   116. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4244249)
All the ball-in-play data that informs xFIP

How does xFIP use batted ball data?

It's just FIP with the HR/FB ratio regressed to league avg.
   117. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4244250)
I get the criticism of FIP because of scaling and the ignoring of pitcher impact on BABIP and pitcher defense and pickoffs. But FIP rewards pitchers with lots of strikeouts and very few walks while ERA/RA doesn't. The idea that Jeremy Hellickson with his 119 ERA+ (116 K, 57 BB) is having a better year than James Shields with his 104 ERA+ (202 K, 54 BB) seems wrong to me. FIP and xFIP helps me figure out how much the difference in K% and BB% matters. It's not the same as looking at the 3 stats individually -- ERA+, K% and BB%.
   118. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:44 PM (#4244253)
I'm not saying fWAR is better than bWAR. I'm saying both have their strenghts and weaknessness. That is why I would give them both weight when deciding on the cy young.


Okay, but I'm saying one is patently better suited for that purpose, and I'm asking you to flesh out your explanation as to why you disagree (which you must, if you really think they both deserve weight). I don't follow when you say:

The problem is that it does everything at a team level and not at an individual at bat level.
   119. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4244259)
The idea that Jeremy Hellickson with his 119 ERA+ (116 K, 57 BB) is having a better year than James Shields with his 104 ERA+ (202 K, 54 BB) seems wrong to me.

Why, if Hellickson's preventing runs more effectively?

I think I missed the part where pitchers have full control/responsibility/whatever over HRs, Ks, and BBs. How are Ks and BBs not hitter-dependent? Obviously they aren't defense-dependent, but they still aren't entirely the "reponsibility" of the pitcher or entirely within his "control." Throw the same pitches to Mark Reynolds and prime Joe DiMaggio and you aren't getting the same numbers of Ks and BBs.
   120. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4244260)
It's just FIP with the HR/FB ratio regressed to league avg.


Does FB rate not count as batted ball data? If it makes my point more clearly, replace xFIP with tRA or SIERA.
   121. DL from MN Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4244262)
If you're a fan of MVP discussions I will just pop in to note that you can have your say on 1976 in the MMP election. Voting is underway.
   122. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4244265)
The idea that Jeremy Hellickson with his 119 ERA+ (116 K, 57 BB) is having a better year than James Shields with his 104 ERA+ (202 K, 54 BB) seems wrong to me.

He's having a better year in results, which is what we should care about looking backwards (i.e. for Awards).

Looking forward, we'd want to get a sense of the quality of contact the two are allowing, LD%, pop-up %, GB/FB ratio, etc. to determine who had better "true talent" this year.
   123. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4244270)
He's having a better year in results, which is what we should care about looking backwards (i.e. for Awards).


He's having a better year in some results (runs and earned runs). Why limit which numbers you look at?
   124. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4244271)
The idea that Jeremy Hellickson with his 119 ERA+ (116 K, 57 BB) is having a better year than James Shields with his 104 ERA+ (202 K, 54 BB) seems wrong to me.


Why? What is the "gut feel" problem with saying Hellickson has had a better year thus far (i.e., up until now, he has executed better when it counted), but that based on the peripherals we'd expect Shields to be better going forward?
   125. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4244277)
He's having a better year in some results (runs and earned runs). Why limit which numbers you look at?


Because these are the results that actually have the most import, no? There is such a thing as Fielding-Dependent pitching, even if isn't as sustainable as its independent counterpart.
   126. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4244279)
He's having a better year in some results (runs and earned runs). Why limit which numbers you look at?

Because the ultimate purpose of pitching is to prevent runs (*), not to strike people out or walk fewer hitters. Striking people out and not walking them is a secondary effect that correlates with the important thing, but it isn't itelf the important thing.

Games are won and lost by teams based on runs scored vs. runs allowed in defined 9-inning increments.

(*) At higher leverage game points, but that's neither here nor there WRT this conversation.
   127. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4244282)
Because the ultimate purpose of pitching is to prevent runs (*)


Except it isn't. The ultimate purpose of pitching is to win games and no one here would use pitcher wins to evaluate.
   128. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4244285)
The ultimate purpose of pitching is to win games and no one here would use pitcher wins to evaluate

Well, yeah, but everytime you say that you get shouted down. Sticking with runs is less controversial and the conversation can proceed just as effectively.

(But, yes, in fact the ultimate purpose of pitching is to win games, i.e., to allow fewer, or contribute to the allowance of fewer, runs than your team scores within the defined 9-inning increment.)
   129. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4244287)
Why would you believe that? Pitcher miss their spots, hang breaking pitches, etc. all the time. Just like hitters get fooled, or take bad swings.


What I mean is that the outcome varies much more. A bad pitch from a pitcher is a shitty fastball down the middle 2-0. That's going to be hit out 15% or something. A good outcome for a batter is a home run. The pitcher cannot control what the batter does, he can only control the quality of the pitch. I'm asking if you're ok with the batter performance being mixed in with the pitcher performance. Sugarbear Blanks is apparently. That's fine, then use RA. I personally like to weigh RA and K-BB.
   130. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4244289)
The ultimate purpose of pitching is to win games and no one here would use pitcher wins to evaluate.


No, that's not true. The ultimate purpose of baseball teams is to win games. The ultimate purpose of pitching is to prevent runs.

One reason to limit which numbers you use is because you have to draw the line somewhere, and limiting it at the most basic and most important unit of measurement in baseball, runs, seems as good a place as any. Sure, you can go one (more theoretical) step beyond where you try to isolate pitching from defense, but then why not go beyond that to where you isolate pitching from the opposing hitter.

   131. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4244290)
Except it isn't. The ultimate purpose of pitching is to win games and no one here would use pitcher wins to evaluate.

Well, since you can't score runs on defense in baseball, preventing runs is all the pitcher can do as a pitcher (excluding pitcher hitting in the NL) to win games.
   132. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4244293)
I personally like to weigh RA and K-BB.

Good, then look at RA+, IP, and K and BB rates. No need to involve FIP.
   133. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4244295)
K-BB ERA isn't readily displayed anywhere. xFIP is pretty close to it.
   134. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4244296)
Except it isn't. The ultimate purpose of pitching is to win games and no one here would use pitcher wins to evaluate.


I think this a bit too cute, and you know it. The pitching/defense half of winning games is to prevent runs. Wins are a bad pitching measure because pitching is less than half of winning a game. Run prevention is clearly the end game for a pitcher and that is why people focus on it as a baseline of analysis.
   135. Gaelan Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4244297)
He's having a better year in some results (runs and earned runs). Why limit which numbers you look at?


Because some numbers are useless. Like anything related to FIP. Look, if you are using FIP in a discussion about league awards you have disqualified yourself from intelligent discourse. You have no business speaking on the subject because you don't know what you are talking about. That's it. Final. End of Story.

   136. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4244298)
I think this a bit too cute, and you know it.


It's mostly a dig at SugarBear and Jack Morris.
   137. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4244301)
The pitcher cannot control what the batter does, he can only control the quality of the pitch.


Not true. A good pitcher will make a batter less likely to execute on bad pitches. This is why pitch sequencing and disrupting timing are important. This was Maddux's life blood.
   138. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4244306)
Why, if Hellickson's preventing runs more effectively?

I think I missed the part where pitchers have full control/responsibility/whatever over preventing runs.
   139. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4244307)

Not true. A good pitcher will make a batter less likely to execute on bad pitches. This is why pitch sequencing and disrupting timing are important. This was Maddux's life blood.


Yup. A hanging breaking ball inside is much less likely to be crushed when the batter is looking for a FB outside.
   140. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4244309)
Because some numbers are useless. Like anything related to FIP. Look, if you are using FIP in a discussion about league awards you have disqualified yourself from intelligent discourse. You have no business speaking on the subject because you don't know what you are talking about. That's it. Final. End of Story.

Since this is so eloquently true, it doesn't need seconding, but I'll second it anyway.

   141. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:20 PM (#4244312)
What I mean is that the outcome varies much more. A bad pitch from a pitcher is a shitty fastball down the middle 2-0. That's going to be hit out 15% or something. A good outcome for a batter is a home run. The pitcher cannot control what the batter does, he can only control the quality of the pitch. I'm asking if you're ok with the batter performance being mixed in with the pitcher performance. Sugarbear Blanks is apparently. That's fine, then use RA. I personally like to weigh RA and K-BB.


Except that another word for "batter performance being mixed in with pitcher performance," is ... "baseball."

Why do you even want to bother with batters? Just have all the pitchers throw bullpens, measure the velocity and location of all their pitches and give the high scorer the Cy Young.

   142. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4244313)
I think I missed the part where pitchers have full control/responsibility/whatever over preventing runs.

They have the large majority. The variance in pitching talent is much, much greater than the variance in team defense.

Also, no one on the RA/ERA side of this debate is against making an adjustment for defense, a la BRef WAR.
   143. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4244315)
Because that's retarded. Sequencing, movement, etc. matter as well, and there's no way to really know how good a pitcher is.

Again, what I'm proposing is RA + K-BB RA/2. Not some real radical ####. Just giving K and BB more weight than BABIP and HR rate.
   144. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:25 PM (#4244318)
I think I missed the part where pitchers have full control/responsibility/whatever over preventing runs.

I think I missed the part where full control/responsibility/whatever was a prerequisite to anything important. No one in a baseball game has full control/responsility/whatever over anything.
   145. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4244320)
Also, no one on the RA/ERA side of this debate is against making an adjustment for defense, a la BRef WAR.


Right. The point is NOT to say that ERA is the true talent level, but to parse the FIP-ERA differential using something based in reality. fWAR merely takes FIP and then magically sublimates that whole disparity to "defense" (but without actually crediting anyone for these defensive achievements) based on lazy logic.
   146. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4244321)
Again, what I'm proposing is RA + K-BB RA/2.

The problem is you're calling something a "RA" that isn't; it's just scaled to look like one.

If you want to use Ks and BBs, go ahead, most people look beyond ERA+ to those things. But don't average them into a stat that isn't what it says it is.
   147. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4244329)
Right. The point is NOT to say that ERA is the true talent level, but to parse the FIP-ERA differential using something based in reality. fWAR merely takes FIP and then magically sublimates that whole disparity to "defense" (but without actually crediting anyone for these defensive achievements) based on lazy logic.


I think there are very very few people here who would use fWAR for anything. Even the staunchest critics of ERA probably think bWAR is a better stat.
   148. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4244333)
I think you might be missing my point. There's a stat called kwERA, that similarily to FIP, estimates ERA. It's just based on strikeouts and walks.

If kwERA thinks a guy should have had a 3 ERA and his actualy ERA is 2.5, I'm going to give him a 2.75 deserved ERA for the purposes of figuring out who should be the Cy Young (note, I might not do this with Dickey because I have no idea what knuckleballers do to BABIP research).
   149. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4244336)
It's not just defense, it's also batter variation. fWAR is fine for the Cy Young. So is bWAR. Go somewere in between. There's no reason to be a slave to one school of though.
   150. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4244342)
Why, if Hellickson's preventing runs more effectively?

I'm not sure exactly. Maybe because it seems like he's pitching worse but getting better results through better luck. I'm not sure why exactly I think he's pitching worse -- whether it's that I've been brainwashed by DIPS arguments or whatever -- but I do think that. I realize we don't hold hitters to the same standard -- e.g. we don't normalize their BABIP to some number -- but it seems different for pitchers somehow. I'll have to think about it.
   151. JJ1986 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4244344)
fWAR is fine for the Cy Young.


To switch sides, fWAR completely ignores some things that should be attributed to the pitcher. DP rate, GB rate in general, ability to hold runners, ability to pitch from the stretch (somewhat included). It should not be used on its own.
   152. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:40 PM (#4244346)
Because pitchers have less control over BABIP than hitters. There are literally 1000 artcles on the subject.
   153. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4244350)
I agree that it should not be used on its own.
   154. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4244353)
I think I missed the part where full control/responsibility/whatever was a prerequisite to anything important. No one in a baseball game has full control/responsility/whatever over anything.

You're the one who determined that Hellickson was better at preventing runs.
   155. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4244358)
There's a stat called kwERA, that similarily to FIP, estimates ERA. It's just based on strikeouts and walks.

Then what you're saying is that you're only looking at strikeouts and walks.(*) I'm not sure what the purpose is of converting Ks and BBs to something "like" an ERA and comparing it to actual ERA, other than to lend an undeserved patina of legitimacy and rigor to it.

(*) And then, far worse, saying that Cy Young votes should be based on it. Or see 135.
   156. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4244361)
You're the one who determined that Hellickson was better at preventing runs.

He has been this year, which is all I care about and all that matters. He's not "solely responsible" for it, but no one is for anything in baseball -- including strikeouts, walks, and homeruns.
   157. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4244363)
What the hell are you talking about? K and BB rates are a huge part of ERA, so using a metric that only looks at K:BB and weighing it with ERA is effectively just giving more weight to the K and BB portions of ERA. It's called an ERA estimator? You heard of them? They've been around for a few years. Do you have a problem with any metric "pretending" to be ERA?
   158. Ron J2 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:54 PM (#4244366)
Why limit which numbers you look at?


Because runs allowed is what matters for valuing pitchers. We don't particularly care that one pitcher has allowed fewer runs than expected.

EDIT: And yes, it is worthwhile to adjust for the quality of defense.
   159. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4244369)
OK, so first I look at ERA and IP, and then if I need a tie-breaker, I take a quick look at the other stats like K/BB, and I make a mental park factor adjustment. Is that wrong?

Edit > Also, I give a bonus to RA Dickey, because he's awesome.
   160. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4244371)
It's not just defense, it's also batter variation.


bWAR does a much better job with defense, so the case for fWAR being at all useful for Cy Young must be in "batter variation." But again, I'm not following what you mean by this in terms of what fWAR does. Could you explain?
   161. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4244376)
OK, so first I look at ERA and IP, and then if I need a tie-breaker, I take a quick look at the other stats like K/BB, and I make a mental park factor adjustment. Is that wrong?


You are history's greatest monster.
   162. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:02 PM (#4244377)
fWAR is primarily based on K and BB (it also includes home run rate, which I don't really like, I'd rather use K-BB WAR). Strikeouts and walks take up an entire count while batted balls occur on a single pitch. Thus there is a much higher effective sample size for K and BB making it more likely to be reflective of pitcher performance than HR and BABIP.

There is also numerous research showing K and BB rates are very predictive and HR rate and BABIP are not http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14293. This implies that pitchers have more control over K and BB rates. Therefore, I would like to give more weight to them than other things involved in ERA.
   163. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4244382)
Also bWAR doesn't neccesarily do a great job of adjusting for defensive peformance:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/verlanders_skill_with_balls_in_play/

often it actually makes it worse. (read the comments)
   164. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:07 PM (#4244389)
I'm still not clear on what you mean by "batter variation." It seems like you are just talking about weighting peripherals different.
   165. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4244390)
Yes, K:BB are more controlled by the pitcher while BABIP is more controlled by the batter. That is why I'm weighing K:BB more.
   166. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4244394)
Also bWAR doesn't neccesarily do a great job of adjusting for defensive peformance:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/verlanders_skill_with_balls_in_play/

often it actually makes it worse. (read the comments)


I read the comments; I didn't see any discussion of bWAR's defensive adjustments. Could you be more specific as to what you are referencing?
   167. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:13 PM (#4244396)
I'm sorry, wrong article:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_much_is_each_pitchers_babip_affected_by_his_fielders_that_day/

You actually don't need to read the comments.
   168. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4244406)
Yes, K:BB are more controlled by the pitcher while BABIP is more controlled by the batter. That is why I'm weighing K:BB more.


Okay, but this is an sustainability argument for refining the roots of FIP as a predictive stat. It doesn't add anything to question of what is a better reflective stat. bWAR adjusts to the strength of the opposing hitters based on their real world performance, rather than trying to interpolate that performance from K/BB rates. I fail to see how fWAR is better here, at least in a reflective capacity.
   169. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:21 PM (#4244411)
Again I don't think fWAR is better, I think they are about equal. K/BB isn't just predictive, it's also a matter of batter performance vs. pitcher performance. When a home run is it, it's mostly because the batter did something different, not the pitcher. Strikeouts are walks are more pitcher controlled.

And with that I'm done. You guys can believe whatever you want.
   170. Barnaby Jones Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4244416)
I'm sorry, wrong article:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/how_much_is_each_pitchers_babip_affected_by_his_fielders_that_day/

You actually don't need to read the comments.


That's an interesting article, but it's not particularly conclusive, with both Tango and MGL conceding that Verlander could be causing this effect at least partially himself. The main take away there is an excellent reminder that you need pretty large sample sizes before you can say anything with confidence about any stats with defensive components.
   171. Ron J2 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4244438)
Defensive support for a pitcher is complex. You really can get by with a young Kevin Mitchell at SS if the pitcher doesn't tend to give up many GB6 (I started checking out Mitchell's starts at SS in 1986. Like many people I'd assumed they were mostly Sid Fernandez starts. Instead it's mostly Ojeda and Gooden. At least before I got bored. Go figure)

   172. Ron J2 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4244482)
#169 fWAR (among other things) makes an implicit clutch fielding argument. If a pitcher has a (likely unsustainable) low BABIP it's assumed to be a defensive credit. Even though there's no reason to think that defense is in fact the reason (I mean pitchers very frequently have a BABIP much lower than their teammates in any given year).

Similarly, a pitcher may give up fewer runs than you'd expect because of great numbers with runners on (and/or by giving up a lot of solo HR). This may or may not be an ability (there are good studies of hitting with RISP [or any other definition of clutch] but not much work done on the pitching side. There is one old study by James which indicates that veteran pitchers do tend to make better adjustments. ISO tends to go up, OBP down with bases empty for the veterans. But as I recall it, it was far from definitive) but it counts.

And yes, it counts on the offensive side too. The standard error for a full-time player is in the range of 5 runs and most of that is in the clutch/timing/luck area. If somebody has done something not considered by the metric and you believe it has value, by all means bring it up.

On the subject of counter stats it's also worthwhile to note that there's also a pretty big batting order affect. One of the earliest stathead studies is Steve Mann's on how batting order affects counter stats.

Estimated Effect of batting order position on total runs and rbi (unfortunately he only looked at the two combined. Obviously batting first will tend to increase your runs scored but will decrease your RBI even more. Not just because of the one AB per game when you are guaranteed to bat with nobody on, but because you are primarily trying to drive in the #8 and #9 hitters and as a group they tend to be poor at getting on base)

1 -5%
2 0%
3 +10%
4 +15%
5 +10%
6 0%
7 -5%
8 -15%
9 -10%

Slots 7,8,9,1 and 2 have different effects in the AL, but to my knowledge Mann never published this (wasn't of any interest to him. He was working for the Phillies at the time)
   173. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:13 PM (#4244491)

Because these are the results that actually have the most import, no? There is such a thing as Fielding-Dependent pitching, even if isn't as sustainable as its independent counterpart.

Shields is 15-9, Hellickson is 9-10. Shields is doing a better job at winning games, and that's really what matters more so than earned runs allowed or runs allowed.
   174. Ron J2 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4244528)
#173 Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that Shields gets 1.5 runs extra (per game to work with) 4.77 to 3.27.

(Understanding that you might have tongue firmly in cheek)

Hellickson's record is almost spot on what you'd expect given how much he's pitched, his runs allowed and his run support. Shields' record is in fact a tad better (You expect about 13.4 wins -- and since there's no reliable way for a starter to get .4 wins ...) and I'm fine with giving him some credit for this. (Though I'm thinking a lights out bullpen might have something to do with this too)
   175. ecwcat Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4244544)
While the universe debates how many angels dance on the head of a pin, Derek Jeter will walk away with the 2012 MVP as a lifetime achievement award.

That's what you guys get for relying on Fangraphs and bWAR instead of counting stats and batting average.
   176. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4244630)
I think you might be missing my point. There's a stat called kwERA, that similarily to FIP, estimates ERA. It's just based on strikeouts and walks.


Any stat that attempts to ignore both runs scored, or most of the components allowed is useless. If you are going to use an era estimator, it better include k/bb/hr/singles/doubles/triples/gidp in the equation, and probably also cs/po/sb for it to be any use as a backwards evaluating tool for an award.
   177. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2012 at 07:13 PM (#4244636)
There is also numerous research showing K and BB rates are very predictive and HR rate and BABIP are not http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14293. This implies that pitchers have more control over K and BB rates. Therefore, I would like to give more weight to them than other things involved in ERA.


The awards aren't trying to make a prediction of future performance. Just because the numbers show a pitcher should have only allowed 3 homeruns over a course of a certain number of innings, and he allows 8, doesn't mean he should have those homeruns removed from the equation. (or the opposite)

You don't look at a batter's 20 for 30 week, and say "well he's really only a .300 hitter so we need to remove 11 of those hits."
   178. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 24, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4244645)
The awards aren't trying to make a prediction of future performance. Just because the numbers show a pitcher should have only allowed 3 homeruns over a course of a certain number of innings, and he allows 8, doesn't mean he should have those homeruns removed from the equation. (or the opposite)

The fundamental question to me is whether the pitcher did something bad to allow those HR, or did he just happen to face batters that did something awesome. If it's the latter he really shouldn't be penalized for it in my view.
   179. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:08 PM (#4244654)
The fundamental question to me is whether the pitcher did something bad to allow those HR, or did he just happen to face batters that did something awesome. If it's the latter he really shouldn't be penalized for it in my view.

The only way to answer that definitively is to independently judge the "quality" of the pitch. Which is doable, but as SoSH noted, you'd have to do the same for hitters, crediting them more for hits on better pitches and penalizing them for making outs on BP-caliber fastballs down the middle.
   180. Chokeland Bill Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:12 PM (#4244690)
A few weeks ago Fangraphs started running RA9-Wins. The formula is essentially FIP WAR, plus components for BIP-Wins (so extra wins based on a lower than normal BABIP) and LOB-Wins (basically everything else, like order of events, controlling running game, GIDP, etc). Since everything is broken out into separate parts, it's pretty easy to just make your own adjustments on how to handle things. Don't want to give a pitcher full credit for a low BABIP? Cut the BIP-Wins in half.

This makes a lot more sense to me than rWAR, which makes a defense adjustment based on team that doesn't necessarily apply to individual pitchers (like the Verlander example above).
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