Last year around this time, pressed for topics and staring at a gaping spreadsheet, I wrote a post which basically broke FIP up into its components and plotted it on a graph. My methods are not quite as scientific as that of the tall foreheads who created your favorite ERA-like substance but they do a job.
Just like last year, we can learn who keeps runners off the base paths and who keeps the ball in the yard by using these simple components. There are other factors at play here — home ballpark the most glaring — but strikeout differential (expressed as a rate) and home run per ball in play rate seems like a decent start when it comes to classifying pitchers. So here we go.
Limited as my excel skills are, labelling each pitcher on the list can be something of a pain (not to mention making the graph impossible to read.) So some names are highlighted while the location of other names can be had by asking nicely in the comments or pouring over a version of the original table here.
All starting pitchers with 200 innings pitched between 2011 and 2012 are featured below. As before, home run per ball in play is used to eliminate stat stringer tendencies and “bias” against ground ball pitchers. Which isn’t to say this information is entirely predictive but it shows how guys stack up. The averages listed are among this grouping of players, 11.13% for strikeout minus walk rate and 3.53% for home run per ball in play rate.
This year’s chart looks a little bit different from the previous version, owing entirely to the scale of the y-axis. Just like before, the game’s aces appear clustered on the right side, with the better pitchers posting below-average homers per BIP. The circle in the middle represents two standard deviations from the averages.
The pitchers in the upper left are shitty and should be regarded at such. These pitchers are either former, current, or future Minnesota Twins. Looking at you, Jeremy Hellickson. Some more notes:
- Tim Lincecum, after his rather terrible season, is still in the neighborhood of very good. His rates place him smack dab alongside Jon Niese in the lower right section of the average circle. Above average strikeout ratio and below-average home run rates.
- Kyle Lohse is sort of terrible, explaining why Kyle Lohse is sort of unemployable.
- James Shields and Matt Cain – somewhat surprising in that they’re not reversed?
- The group of four points, side-by-side at a 45 degree angle just to the right of the circle in the upper right quadrant? Dan Haren, Anibal Sanchez, Ian Kennedy, and Brandon Morrow. Number 2s, one and all.
- Brandon McCarthy and Josh Johnson rank among the 13 pitchers with the lowest home run rates. Will that continue as they move to more offensive ballparks in Toronto and Arizona?
- Ervin Santana and Tommy Hanson both posted among the highest home runs rates – in pitcher’s parks. Hope for bounce back seasons remains optimistic.
- If Brandon Beachy (BB) comes back strong and Kris Medlen stays what he was…the Braves might be okay in the future.
You might notice the name of the man whose photo adorns this post is conspicuous by its absence. Because, of course, Stephen Strasburg didn’t reach the 200 inning limit. Which is a shame, because his 23% K-BB rate and 3.22% HR/BIP rate are OFF THE CHART as it is currently constructed.
So many strikeouts, so few walks, so few homers. Stephen Strasburg, man. He’s really good (and Kris Medlen, in less than half as many batters faced, is even better! 24% K-BB and 2.33 HR/BIP!)
Fire away in the comments with your questions or concerns. Or hit the document then come back and complain about
Ricky Romero whomever your heart desires.
Stats courtesy of Fangraphs, as you probably assumed.