Sunday, September 21, 2008

Penultimate Matt: FIP, WHIP, and VORP

The statgeeks have some lovely acronyms, eh? Figuring that MC has his second-to-last start today, I thought I'd see how he stacks up against his fellows. I went to Fan Graphs and did a sort for all pitchers over 180 IP using FIP, or "Fielding Indpendent Pitching." (See a breakdown for that on THT's Glossary page.) The wunderkind, Tim Lincecum, leads the world in FIP at 2.62. There are 51 guys in the ML with at least 180 IP: 30 starts x 6 IP = 180. Thus my choice of cut-off point. This unfortunately eliminates some outstanding pitchers like John Lackey and Jake Peavy, both who've lost starts to injuries. Matt Cain is currently 30th, at 3.86. Think of FIP like an uber-ERA. It is supposed to be a better indicator of the things the pitcher controls--an attempt to reduce the team and park influences.

WHIP is an easy one. "Walks plus hits per innings pitched." Cain is 39th at 1.35 We know why. He's 10th in baseball (all pitchers) in BBs with 83. Zito, at 98, is "number one."

VORP is one of those things only a statgeek can love. "Value Over Replacement Player" borders on the psychedelic. (q.v. BP's Glossary) A team of "replacements" would only win about 20-25 games--think marginal big-leaguer, not an average one. If you sort for 180 IP, Matt Cain comes in at 26th, just behind Carlos Zambrano. The numbers are 37.7 and 36.8, higher is better. (Cliff Lee is the leader at 75.2, The Link second at 72.2.) MC drops to 35th if you include all 700 possible guys. (Luis Mendoza of the Rangers is last with a -31.6.) Barry Zito (-3.1) and Jeff Suppan (+1.3) are performing at about the level of a "replacement" starter, just to give you some idea. They are approaching "zero" value above any promotable AAA+ warm body. Jonathan Sanchez is at 15.8, besting the likes of Greg Maddux at 14.4.

I'll let you chew on that stuff. This is great fodder for off-season rants and 2009 planning! Meanwhile, Ivan Ochoa hits second today. He has a .546 OPS. Good choice to hit 2nd, Bonehead.

Let's hope Matt brings the gas today, and you can expect my usual "line post" after the game.

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