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  1. I’m statistics until I die, but when it comes to season awards, all that matters to me are the results, not what the predicted results should have been. I don’t know why FIP should be used in this sort of context at all. We aren’t predicting who the better pitcher will be for 2013, we want to know who had the better season in 2012.

    While I support a guy like Felix Hernandez getting the Cy Young when he blows away the competition in ERA, to me, in a race as tight as this one was – Dickey was 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and Kershaw was 14-9 with a 2.53 ERA – goes to the guy with the better win total, especially when their HR/BB/K splits are relatively similar (Dickey trails Kershaw in HR by 8, a significant number but not earthshattering).

    That may be the only time I ever advocate wins as an important statistic, but I think it matters here. I can see votes for both sides, but I think if anything it’s a toss up, not a Kershaw victory.

    Comment by Garrett — November 14, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  2. We’re statistics too!

    Comment by FIP, wOBA, and UZR — November 14, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  3. FIP is not meant to be predictive. FIP tells us what happened if you strip out components that DIPS theory tells us is out of the pitchers control.

    Comment by Kogoruhn — November 14, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  4. I’m statistics and so’s my wife!

    Comment by O-Swing% — November 14, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  5. A good point. I guess I meant predictive in the sense that, “we knew X pitcher was better than Y pitcher by his bottom line results this year, so we have a better grasp on which may be better going forward.” Not that cut and dry obviously. Maybe I need to think of the Cy Young the way I do the MVP (RBIs being irrelevant), but I can’t get past the idea that the pitcher’s/team’s record in his games started should matter for that one award when the ERAs are similar.

    That being said, I went back and forth in my head on which side I was taking as I wrote this, so who knows. :)

    Comment by Garrett — November 14, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

  6. I won’t be upset if Dickey wins, but Kershaw was the best pitcher in the NL this year and does deserve to win the NL Cy Young. Well, again, both guys deserve it, but one was better than the other. It would be awesome to see Kershaw win his second straight.

    Comment by Ivdown — November 14, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  7. I sometimes wonder if intangibles should be counted in baseball. All of the fangraphs statistics are about how good a player is individually, regardless of fielding behind him, batters getting on base ahead of him, etc. but baseball, is actually a team sport. it’s not golf or tennis.

    does having dickey on the mound get the players behind him to focus more and want to play better defensively? there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of that, especially when no-hitters are on the line. should we immediately discredit the pitcher for making his teamates better? with Dickey, he won close to 28% of the wins for the whole team. it would suggest to me that it would have to be a combination of dominating stuff, as well as his team-mates elevating their level of play when he starts – of course, no stats to back this up.

    other team sports have statistics surrounding this…assists, +/-, etc. can we put team back into baseball?

    Comment by attgig — November 14, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

  8. Wins are influenced even more by the offense and bullpen that by what the pitcher actually does. I understand wanting to look at what actually happened rather than what really should have happened in terms of DIPS, but wins just don’t have that much to do with the pitcher. This line of thinking seems to make more sense with stats like ERA, WHIP, BABIP, or HR/FB where the pitcher can have fluky numbers due to luck but they are still things that his pitching limited.

    Comment by Joe — November 14, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  9. This seems to be difficult to prove in baseball though. In basketball or football, your teammates’ actions interact directly with yours, i.e. your teammate is directly throwing you a pass, so if you make the open basket, it was aided by your teammate. Baseball is different, in that when a groundball is hit to David Wright, R.A. Dickey doesn’t roll the ball to Wright or help him in any way. Wright makes the play on his own without any influence from Dickey. At least this what it seems to me.

    Also, is there any evidence that has shown that a pitcher has control over how the rest of his team plays? Everything I remember hearing or reading says that it’s pretty much random and doesn’t correlate from year to year.

    Comment by Mike — November 14, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  10. there isn’t evidence over a point guard having control how the rest of the team plays, but some somehow seem to elevate their play when playing with them.

    take johan santana’s no-hitter for instance. Nobody would ever consider him a great defensive player, but he elevated his play to keep that no-hit bid going.
    Gregor Blanco did the same for Cain.

    could it be that in a year where the mets have nothing to play for, Dickey gave them something to play for and got the best out of his teammates? I guess that’s why it’s an intangible… you just don’t have a stat to back it up.

    Comment by attgig — November 14, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  11. I’m with you. Both pitchers were very similar this year, and I have no problem giving it to the pitcher who went 20-6 over the pitcher who went 14-9. I realize that pitcher wins aren’t nearly as important as people thought they were 20 years ago, but I disagree that they’re completely irrelevant, and I have no issues using it to tip the scales in Dickey’s direction.

    Comment by vivalajeter — November 14, 2012 @ 4:25 pm

  12. To me, this is a great example of when people take the “I’m smarter than you!” attitude too far. Instead of saying pitcher wins are overrated, you’re saying they don’t have that much to do with the pitcher. That’s absurd. Look at the top-10 Wins leaderboard over the last few years, and you’ll see a list that consists primarily of some of the best starters in the league. Look at the top winning % of all-time, and you’ll see a list of great starters. Don’t act like that doesn’t have much to do with the pitcher.

    Yes, you’ll see some fluky years where a decent (but not great) starter wins 18 or 20 games, and you’ll see the reverse (like Cliff Lee this year, with only 6 wins), but by and large, the Wins-leaderboard is filled with some mighty fine pitchers.

    Comment by vivalajeter — November 14, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

  13. Okay, but let’s try and reductio that argument ad absurdum. If you’re really interested in results, or how a pitcher affected his team, shouldn’t you look first at something like pitcher wins, or W-L record in games started, or, probably the best option, WPA? I don’t think you would — essentially because none of those statistics are all that predictive or reliable. So already we’re striking a balance between reliability and actual results. ERA already adjusts for fielding, albeit in a 19th-century way, by discounting runs due to errors. Presumably you don’t think that adding those back into a pitcher’s run total would lead to a better statistic. So why not adjust for fielding in a much more statistically valid way? But that gives you FIP.

    Comment by Haishan — November 14, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  14. FIP and UZR are models based on statistics. There is a difference.

    Comment by Joe — November 14, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  15. “take johan santana‚Äôs no-hitter for instance. Nobody would ever consider him a great defensive player, but he elevated his play to keep that no-hit bid going.” meaning mike baxter

    Comment by attgig — November 14, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

  16. Johnny Cueto was clearly better than RA Dickey this year. To me, this race is about Cueto vs. Kershaw, although I do think Dickey still might win.

    Look at RA9 and RA9avg.

    RA9avg is the RA9 an average pitcher would produce given that specific pitcher’s defense, the strength of opposition he faced, and every single park that he pitched in this year, weighted to the exact number of batters faced in each park.

    The RA9s favor Kershaw, but this is before we consider the above factors:

    Kershaw RA9 2.77
    J Cueto RA9 3.03
    R Dickey RA9 3.00

    But look at the RA9avg metric that these pitchers are judged against.

    Kershaw RA9avg 4.46
    J Cueto RA9avg 4.70
    R Dickey RA9avg 4.44

    This is where Cueto overtakes Dickey significantly and almost closes the gap on Kershaw. Cueto pitched in a far tougher pitching environment than Kershaw or Dickey. FIP is not going to help you with that.

    All that’s left is to look at the difference between (RA9avg-RA9) and multiply by IP and you’ve got RAA. Personally, I don’t think anywhere from 0-20 IP difference is really significant at all for starting pitchers. This can be explained by one extra start(in Dickey’s case) and the difference between having a great bullpen(Dodgers), a great closer(Reds), and an awful bullpen(Mets). Looked at through this lens, it seems obvious to me that Dickey would lead the league in IP. Would you want to give the ball to Frank Francisco in a 2-1 nail-biter? Me neither. Anyway:

    RA9avg-RA9
    Kershaw 1.69
    J Cueto 1.67
    R Dickey 1.44

    This is the most important metric to me. Clearly Kershaw and Cueto are almost identical and superior to Dickey.

    I’ll echo Garrett’s sentiment above that wins for a pitcher are not totally irrelevant, and I’ll take Cueto’s 19-9 slate over Kershaw’s 14-9 for the tiebreaker.

    Comment by bstar — November 14, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

  17. Your whole argument is based on a single stat (RA9), and the stat does not adjust for runners left on base after the pitcher leaves that subsequently score, which means the stat gives extra credit for teams with a great bullpen. Cueto had a terrific bullpen behind him while Dickey had a terrible bullpen behind him.

    If you think a lesser pitcher is ‘clearly better’ based on one metric, then I guess it makes sense to pick a metric that favors your pitcher and hurts the pitcher who was actually better.

    Comment by vivalajeter — November 14, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

  18. *argumentum ad absurdem reducemus

    Comment by C — November 14, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  19. Good point about bequeathed runners. But you’re dead wrong that I specifically picked “this one metric” to favor my choice. My analysis determined my choice.

    Dickey left 9 bequethed runners on and three scored. Cueto had 12 and 4 scored. That’s one-third for both. No difference.

    Kershaw was hurt the most. 9 bequeathed runners and six scored. That’s two more than Cueto. Hmm, yeah that might sway me to pick Kershaw, but again this does absolutely nothing to help Dickey’s case.

    Comment by bstar — November 14, 2012 @ 8:46 pm

  20. It’s not just one metric at all. There’s RA9, there’s a team defense adjustment, there’s a strength of opposition adjustment, there’s a park factor adjustment. That’s pretty thorough.

    Comment by bstar — November 14, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  21. * Expecto Patronum!

    Comment by B says — November 14, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

  22. So… Gio Gonzalez has WAR that ties him with Kershaw and puts him 1 up on Dickey, why is he someone you could argue for? 9.35 K/9 is pretty amazing too.

    Comment by snack man — November 14, 2012 @ 11:04 pm

  23. How do we rectify, statistically, a Catfish Hunter?

    Take 1973: he was 21-5 with a 3.34 ERA, but a 4.40 FIP and just 0.9 WAR.

    When he had leads, he got complacent and gave up dingers (1.37/9)–or perhaps he went into a sort of pre-vent defense. Either way, isn’t it worth something that the great majority of the times he maintained the leads? And is there evidence in this kind of pitcher, like the boxer being killed on points but able to pull off a late-round KO, that the end result has more statistical merit than newer metrics take into consideration?

    Comment by Keith — November 14, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  24. It is predictive. In some cases it is more predictive than an expressly predictive stat such as xFIP, such as when a pitcher has a consistently below average HR/FB rate.

    Comment by Bip — November 15, 2012 @ 1:50 am

  25. The problem with pitcher wins is not that they are totally useless and unreliable. The problem is that they are a less reliable way of getting at the same information. If you want to compare two pitchers, you want to use a tool that most reliably measures their pure performance. If that tool doesn’t yield a winner, you wouldn’t then use another statistic that less reliably measures the same thing. That is the problem with wins. It measures the same thing as ERA, IP, FIP, WAR, SIERA and others, except with more confounding factors. So if those don’t give you a winner, then until you come up with a stat more reliable then those, then you may just have to settle for “too close to call” because you’ve already consulted the most reliable measurement of pitcher value.

    If you could somehow show that a pitcher has control of a game outcome outside of direct run prevention and that that ability is captured by wins, then wins now are a source of new information not measured by FIP or WAR, but that has not been demonstrated.

    Comment by Bip — November 15, 2012 @ 2:00 am

  26. ERA is a model as well.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — November 15, 2012 @ 4:10 am

  27. This is crap dude. I agree that wins are strongly correlated with pitcher talent, but once you already know a pitchers IP, ERA, FIP, etc. wins add absolutely zero value because all they are capturing are run support and bullpen effects. Maybe think a little before you rationalize.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — November 15, 2012 @ 4:12 am

  28. yeah RA-RA9 is basically WAR. I’m not sure why you decided to ingore innings though, that’s obviously wrong.

    Comment by vivaelpujols — November 15, 2012 @ 4:16 am

  29. No mention that Dickey pitched with a torn oblique all year? That story alone helped put him over the edge.

    Comment by YanksFanInBeantown — November 15, 2012 @ 7:53 am

  30. Or when Nolan Ryan had the lowest ERA and the most strikeouts but went 8-16??

    Comment by Hurtlockertwo — November 15, 2012 @ 10:03 am

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