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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Monday, July 30, 2001
2001 In Season Defense Independent Pitching Stats Report
Voros supplies some up-to-date DIPS data.
We?ve played about 100 games so far this year and I think it?s high time we bring up everybody?s favorite Sabermetric Food-Fight topic, Defense Independent Pitching Stats (DIPS).
For those of you unfamiliar with the topic, DIPS is a little thing I developed about two years ago in an attempt to try and separate the contributions of a pitcher?s defense from his stats. Obviously if a pitcher has a team of Jose Cansecos lumbering around the field behind him, he?s liable to give up a bunch more runs than he probably deserves. DIPS was designed to address this situation in a somewhat novel way, rather than trying to apply some sort of ?team-defense adjustment? to each pitcher?s stats, it instead circumvented this step completely by focusing on those elements of a pitcher?s stat line that the defense has virtually no effect on at all (BFP, HR, HP, BB, SO, IBB).
The results of doing so, and the implications of those results, opened up a rather sizable can of worms with lots of productive discussion occurring, and some rather unproductive arguments also occurring. One of the benefits (curses?) of the information interstate is that most of this discussion has been captured for posterity on the Internet. I want to get to this year?s numbers, so I won?t go into the details, as they have been thoroughly covered elsewhere. I will provide links at the end of this article to all the various discussions.
The first thing I?ll do is post the formula I used for the following stats. This isn?t the formula I will be using at the end of the year, but rather a quick and dirty one, which allows you to more easily keep track in-season:
DIPS ERA =?((IP*2.4)+(H*.83)+(HR*11.05)+(BB*2.81)-(SO*1.59)) divided by ((IP*0.71)+(H*.244)+(BB*.097)-(SO*.244))
You may be confused by the inclusion of hits in the above formula, but they are there just to give an internal estimate of batters faced. If you try it out, you will see that adjusting the hit totals up or down doesn?t affect the result very much at all.
Anyway for 2001, we have the usual suspects atop the DIPS leaderboards. In each of the last two years, the top 5 pitchers in DIPS have been the same: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina (though not necessarily in that order). So far this year, the injury to Brown has allowed Andy Pettitte to join the top 5:
DIPS ERA 2001 (unadjusted for park)
1. Pedro Martinez 1.68 2. Randy Johnson 2.35 3. Greg Maddux 2.82 4. Andy Pettitte 3.18 5. Mike Mussina 3.20 6. Chan Ho Park 3.31 7. Matt Morris 3.39 8. Brad Penny 3.48 9. John Burkett 3.52 10. Kevin Appier 3.57 11. Javier Vazquez 3.59 12. Jon Lieber 3.60 13. Roger Clemens 3.61 14. Tim Hudson 3.64 15. Barry Zito 3.65 16. Brad Radke 3.67 17. Rick Reed 3.75 18. Mark Buehrle 3.77 19. Russ Ortiz 3.77 20. Curt Schilling 3.77
What you?ll notice is guys like Joe Mays, Jarrod Washburn and Jason Johnson don?t populate this list. DIPS would seem to indicate that their low ERAs aren?t necessarily indicative of how well they?re pitching. In other words, if you?re looking for possible flukes, these guys might be a good start.
The next two lists are the pitchers who have the biggest differences between their DIPS ERA and their actual ERA. The guys for whom the DIPS ERA is lower can expect to improve some, and the opposite guys can expect some decline. As always, there are exceptions, but? it?s good information to know:
ERA lower than DIPS ERA
1. Joe Mays -1.59 2. Jamey Wright -1.59 3. Jason Johnson -1.48 4. A.J. Burnett -1.21 5. Aaron Sele!!! -1.16 6. Tom Glavine -1.14 7. Steve Parris -1.00 8. John Burkett!!! -0.99 9. Corey Lidle -0.93 10. Ben Sheets -0.89
The exclamation points next to Sele and Burkett are there because they have been two of the few pitchers who have more or less consistently had lower DIPS ERAs than actual ERAs. Now, all of the sudden the opposite is happening. That really is the central sticking point of DIPS is that there doesn?t seem to be much of a relationship between who does well in the defense dependent stats one year and who does well in them the next.
To wit, five of the above pitchers had lower DIPS ERAs in 2000 than actual ones (Johnson, Mays, Sele, Burkett, Lidle). Mays DIPS ERA in 2000 was 4.88 and in 2001 so far it?s 4.84, basically the same. But in 2000 his actual ERA was 5.57 and so far in 2001 it is 3.25. Mays is a good example of how much influence this stat can have, and also how it might be a good deal unreliable.
Here?s the flipside of the above list:
DIPS ERA lower than actual ERA
1. Dave Burba 1.76 2. Jose Mercedes 1.73 3. Bryan Rekar 1.49 4. Barry Zito 1.36 5. Joey Hamilton 1.18 6. Chris Holt 1.14 7. Willis Roberts 1.13 8. Kenny Rogers 1.13 9. Pedro Astacio 1.11 10. Esteban Loaiza 1.04
Again, four of the above pitchers actually posted lower ERAs in 2000 than they did DIPS ERAs. And also, Barry Zito?s DIPS ERA in 2000 was 4.00 while in 2001 it is 3.65. But Zito?s ERA in 2000 was a low 2.74 while in 2001 it is a relatively high 5.01.
When I get it all put together, I?ll post the DIPS ERAs for the year so far on my site. I?ll post the link as a comment to this article when I get it finished. I?ll finish this article by discussing a few of the more interesting situations not yet covered.
Terry Adams ? While he has an ERA of 4.90, Adams DIPS ERA is a sparkling 3.15.? He has continued to show the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark with only four homers in 90 innings, and has backed that up with a 27/76 BB/SO ratio. There isn?t much to suggest that something in particular about Adams would cause him to surrender more hits in play than any other pitcher, and at the moment, that?s the only reason his ERA is so high.
Kip Wells ? On the flipside, don?t go inscribing the Cooperstown plaque for Kip Wells just yet. While he is posting a nice little 2.89 ERA, his DIPS ERA is a bit high at 4.86. Again, before this year there was nothing to suggest Wells had an ability to prevent hits on balls in play as his career totals in that regard were quite high coming into the season. Beware of a return to earth for the young hurler.
Allen Levrault ? Levrault appears to be hanging on the fringes of usefulness with a 4.94 ERA, but he?s been just flat-out bad with a DIPS ERA of 6.29. He?s given up Homers by the truckload, and hasn?t struck-out very many more batters than he?s walked. Now Levrault is fairly young and lacks experience so he can improve some, but the point is that he has to or else he?s in for a rude awakening.
Seattle Mariners ? The Mariners are having a season like the Reds did in 1999, where they are absolutely lapping the field in fewest hits per balls in play for a pitching staff, with a rate of .262 compared to .293 for the rest of the league (next closest are the Twins at .281). This translates to an extra 85 hits or so prevented above an average team. Now some of this is undoubtedly due to a very nice defense by the Mariners as guys like Suzuki, Cameron and Olerud can really throw some leather. But another factor is that since Safeco Field has opened, it has depressed this stat more than any other stat. So the huge lead is mostly a factor of fine defense and a park effect, but I can?t help but think they?ve probably been a bit lucky as well. A few extra ?at ?em? balls here and there and the stat will drop some. Nevertheless, this isn?t the only thing keeping the Mariners in first place; they?re a good team.
Cleveland Indians ? The Indians continue to be regarded as an excellent defensive team, but at some point that needs to show up in the stats. Like last year, the Indians are once again near the bottom at giving up hits on balls in play with a very high .311 figure. There may be park issues here, but you do have to wonder whether guys like Alomar, Vizquel and Lofton are earning those defensive reps they have. Unlike the Mariners, the difference between the Indians and the Twins in this stat is more than enough to put the the Indians comfortably ahead of the Twins in the AL Central.
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