As has been discussed here many times, most of the Giants pitching staff has outpitched their FIP, xFIP, etc and have been doing it for a long time. I have a theory based on watching countless Giants games on TV, but it fits what the statistics are showing. Giants pitchers do not give in to hitters! When they get runners on base, they are not looking to avoid walking then next batter. They are looking to get the next batter out. In their mind, it’s not that they are willing to give up a walk to avoid giving up the 3 run HR. The BELIEVE they will get the batter out! I’m not going to say you never see a Giants pitcher throw a challenge fastball down the middle of the strike zone, but you sure don’t see it very often.
Mike Krukow knows pitching and he knows the Giants pitching philosophy. I can’t tell you how many times there will be a couple of runners on base and the batter has a 3 ball count and Kruk will say something like, “he still has an open base, so he doesn’t have to give in to the hitter here.”
The Giants success with outpitching their FIP’s over the years can be summed up in one sentence: They don’t give in to hitters!
The Giants outperform their xFIP and other regressed stats, but their ERA – FIP is 0.11 over the last 6 years, which doesn’t seem that amazing to me. It’s behind several other teams.
Their BABIP is very good, second best in the last six years. That looks like a better explanation than any super strategy summarized by one of the many nebulous phrases in baseball (“Giving in”).
Comment by philosofool — February 11, 2013 @ 12:16 pm
At the same time, I think the numbers bear out what DrB is saying, to an extent. His walk rate goes up, his strikeout rate goes down, but his ground-ball rate goes up, and his homer rate goes down. Sounds like he’s giving them less to hit in the zone, and keeping it down so they can’t get the big fly.
I am with l1ay, besides (focusing only on the home park) it is well known that both Cain (R) and Vogey (R) have a large H/R split. Not only ATT is an extreme pitcher park, it also has different park factors for L and R hitters. The park favors RHP who are tough on righties. Cain may have accepted less money to stay, but even his park adjusted stats would look worse elsewhere, not to mention that it is exponentially easier to pitch perfect games in SF.
Doesn’t a lot of it also come from the fact that they play in a home park where it’s very difficult to hit HRs? You would expect them to outperform their xFIP quite a bit at home. And, as philosofool pointed out, they don’t outperform their FIP by some huge margin.
I’m not saying Vogelsong in particular doesn’t have some interesting strategic differences that might increase his strand rate over the long term. But I am also a little skeptical that one pitcher in baseball can have the strategy “walk more guys with men on base” and other pitchers can’t figure out to do that too. Especially if guys like Glavine had HOF-type careers and are known for that strategy.
ERA – FIP is very misleading here. FIP is using a constant which is league adjusted. The Giants play in a rather run surpressing environment so their ERA will be low while their FIP seems higher than it should, narrowing that ERA – FIP gap you mentioned.
So IMHO this stat seems useless here.
Comment by AC_Butcha_AC — February 11, 2013 @ 2:06 pm
Jeremy Hellickson has the same high LOB%. I’m not sure how his other peripherals stack up compared to Vogelsong, but I believe I read recently that Hellickson is looking to become the first pitcher in baseball to put up a LOB% higher than 80% for three straight years.
Comment by Joshua White — February 11, 2013 @ 3:05 pm
The games played in Petco and Chavez are negated by the games at Coors and Chase. And as mentioned elsewhere, Giants pitchers do not chart as more homer-prone on the road, despite AT&T’s HR-suppressing nature.
Something odd with all that. Typically, flyball pitchers have a greater LOB% than groundball pitchers. That’s overall, of course, so for any one pitcher, a lot of it could come down to how his individual pitch arsenal and mix might play up in that situation. And I’m not saying it’s a bad strategy — a flyball approach may end up stranding more runners, but would probably allow the player at the plate to score more often. It’s just a bit odd that his results seem to buck the trend when he goes for a more groundball approach with runners on.
Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — February 11, 2013 @ 5:07 pm
I’d like to see a study of solo vs multi-run HR’s allowed. Again, just working from my recollection of watching a whole lot of Giants games, but I don’t recall very many multi-run HR’s allowed. Maybe HR’s with men on base just don’t occur very often in baseball, but I’d have to guess the Giants are better at limiting them than other teams.
This article is why I hate you sabermetric people.
Comment by CB the Dodger H8ter — February 11, 2013 @ 7:30 pm
Because Morris only looks like an idiot saying that. No proper pitcher should ever feel a need to let up on the opposition and give them a chance to rebound; its baseball, and the next thing you know that bloop single RBI leads to a 6 run frame.
The fact that some pitchers have the resiliency to step it up a notch is not surprising. You hear Kruk talk about the high stress inning. Vogie has developed the ability to have intense concentration. You know, that unlikely quality which some say does not exist, the quality of being in the zone. You can pitch at a high level all game, but still leave room to step it up a notch when needed. It looked as if Timmy completely lost that ability last year, but Voegie has had it the last two years. Maybe it took him ten years to find it, but I certainly hope he does not lose it. Of course no matter how much you step it up, there are times you will get burned, but Vogie has clearly shown the ability to rise to the occasion. I do believe that such ability can be harnessed by some players. Statistically it may be hard to prove, but its hard to deny what we all see with our own eyes.
Comment by bradley emden — February 11, 2013 @ 11:13 pm
he’s got 3 open bases, he doesn’t need to give in to the hitter here.
the pitcher IS due up 4th this inning.
Comment by Mike Krukow sayz — February 16, 2013 @ 5:20 pm
/walks bases loaded
Barry Zito, you weren’t supposed to walk the pitcher too! Now you’ve got to face an Altuve!
ah, damn. I shouldn’t be making fun of Barry anymore :(
Comment by Mike Krukow sayz — February 16, 2013 @ 5:25 pm
Tying together DrB’s comments, I would also add in Rob Neyer’s study of Kirk Rueter one season (compared to Nate Ornejo), where he found that Rueter appears to change his attack on the hitter depending on the base situation. Basically Rueter would allow the occasional HR with no runners, but avoids walking guys and strike out more, but once somebody was on base, he appeared to work the corners, resulting in more walks, less strikeouts, but also much less HRs.
This also supports what DrB said above about Giants pitchers not giving in to batters when runners are on base, in terms of what Rueter did.
This appeared to be related just to Rueter until a saber-debate roared forth on Fangraphs over Matt Cain and his ability to keep HRs and BABIP below average significantly (he now has enough seasons put in to say: YES! to BABIP) and Cameron broadened the scope to the Giants staff and found that Giants pitchers have been able to keep HRs suppressed on the road, as well as home. This further supports the notion that it appears to be a Giants organizational philosophy not to give into hitters when runners are on base.
Of course, most people know this and presumably all teams try to do this. The uniqueness, obviously, is that the Giants have appeared able to put it into action on the baseball field in a way that can be seen in the stats.
I would also note that the Giants homepark has been an oddity, starting out as a strong pitchers park early one, but then from 2003-2010, it was roughly neutral, before becoming clearly a pitcher’s park again in 2011. Throughout, though, HRs have been hard for all, but especially for LHH. So while HRs are hard to happen in the park, it is hard to say what the issue is about runs scoring there and thus inaccurate, I believe, to say that AT&T is a pitcher’s park or not, it has been mostly neutral most of its existence, though very much a pitcher’s park when it is pitching oriented, and there is no park changes to explain any of that.