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  1. Oh hey another formulaic “player A is good according to traditional stat, but other stats show he’s not that good” article.


    Comment by Steve — September 17, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

  2. The O’s season can be divided into two parts: Pre-Buck Showalter and with Showalter.

    I realize most stat-minded people would love to discredit the effects of a manager on a team because it can’t be quantified numerically, but if you look at the O’s season as such, you can’t discount the positive effect that Showalter has had on the O’s. The pitchers have stopped pitching like they’re afraid of hitters and have started attacking. Showalter has injected confidence into a club that had none. He has his club better prepared to go out and face their opponents. Of course, if you merely look at the season as a whole, you won’t see this.

    Do me a favor and look at Guthrie’s numbers post-Buck taking over and then get back to me.

    Comment by Chris in Hawaii — September 17, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

  3. Troll alert. Do not respond.

    Comment by BillC — September 17, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

  4. Really? I’m a troll for believing that a manager can have a positive effect on a team, even when the numbers (look at winning % before and after Buck) back me up?

    That’s laughable.

    You have zero opinion.

    Comment by Chris in Hawaii — September 17, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

  5. So, Guthrie outpitches the predictive stats (and the composite version, FIP/xFIP) 3 out of 4 years, yet that one season is his “true talent”?

    I would have been much more interested to read if the case of Jeremy Guthrie has occurred elsewhere, and if he and (possible other) similar pitchers reveal a weakness in (and perhaps a possible refinement to) FIP.

    If Guthrie doubles his current numbers (has 3 good seasons where he outpitches his peripherals and 1 bad one where he doesn’t) and retires at 35, will he just be the luckiest pitcher in baseball history?

    Statistics are wonderful, but they are not the only thing that matters. There is no reason to expect even great statistical tools, like FIP, to be perfect or applicable to each and every situation.

    Comment by Albert — September 17, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

  6. I think you might be making a mistake using FIP/xFIP in your evaluation of Guthrie. He has significantly outpitched his peripherals every season of his career and after 793 IP I think it is safe say that Guthrie is just one of those guys like Matt Cain for whom peripheral based stats are simply not as accurate as actual results when it comes to judging value.

    Comment by frug — September 17, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  7. This article is terrible. You guys are just blindly quoting these stats without any attempt at real analysis.

    SOME major league pitchers have the ability to affect BABIP. Guthrie now has 800 ML IP with an ERA solidly below league average. I think it’s time to stop saying that he’s been lucky and start trying to figure out if he’s one of the BABIP outliers or if there’s some other explanation for his success.

    Comment by RP — September 17, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

  8. You took the words right out of my mouth. How many times does he have to outpitch FIP to show that something else is up? Remember last year he was never right after pitching in the WBC. Anyone who saw him last year could tell that was the case.

    Comment by CM — September 17, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  9. Agreed. We know that some hitters outhit their expect BABIP. Why can’t it be the same for some pitchers? This is really poor statistical analysis.

    Comment by CM — September 17, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

  10. Agree with Albert. We’re supposed to believe that the one season that is the outlier from the rest is the true indication – I can’t quite buy that.

    Also, I’m not so sure “league average” stats should apply to Guthrie as he routinely pitches half of his games against 4 of the top 10 (and sometimes 4 out of the top 5) offenses in the game. If he pitched in San Diego, he’d routinely have ERAs in the low 3s if not better.

    Comment by Dave — September 17, 2010 @ 10:56 pm

  11. When looking at Baltimore pitcher stats, you might have to take into account that the infield defense changed radically when Roberts returned and Tejada was traded away. Both moves were for the better, and happened pretty close together. They probably go a long way to explain why the team ERA has been so much better under Showalter.

    Comment by Tim S. — September 18, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

  12. The results are the results. His results have been good. He is a legitimate bright spot.

    Based on the deeper stats, he’s been very lucky and is unlikely to repeat, but so what? Those are real scoreless innings he pitched, real balls in play that went to glove.

    I think it’s actually kind of churlish to go picking fault in what has been a reasonable season from Guthrie, whatever shaky foundations its built on.

    Comment by Ryan — September 18, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

  13. Oh my god you people are insane. I’m not sure how Matt has committed some kind of sin by saying that Guthrie has a lower ERA than his FIP, nor is he “blindly quoting stats” by implying that he’s been lucky because of it.

    We’ve come a long way in our understanding of pitching, and it’s clear that pitchers have far more control over some aspects of pitching (strikeouts, walks, gb/fb numbers) than others (BABIP, stranding runners, hr/fb). It’s not exactly outrageous to suggest he’s getting lucky this year.

    Yeah, his career ERA is about .60 points lower than his xFIP. However, that bulk of that comes from his BABIP, which is .278. He has pitched fewer than 800 innings, and allowed 2431 balls in play. Past BABIP predicts future BABIP at 50% at 3700 (!) balls in paly (, so I think it’s safe to say that we have very little idea of how good Guthrie is in that department.

    Now, Guthrie’s career WAR at FanGraphs (which uses FIP) is 8.1. His WAR on baseball reference (which uses run average, adjusted by team defense and quality of batters faced) is 14.6 (, so there is obviously a huge discrepancy between the two models (this might make a more interesting article).

    Comment by vivaelpujols — September 18, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  14. Guthrie has a very low LD% (7th best among AL qualifiers), and an above average IF/FB. Add that to not walking many hitters (9th among AL qualifiers) and you’ve got a fairly solid pitcher, regardless of what FIP says.

    You can’t just normalize everything without context and assume a talent level. Not all fly balls were created equal.

    Comment by Dan — September 18, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

  15. Guthrie has had a tendency to outperform his FIP by about 1 full run. This seems to be mainly attributable to his lower than expected babip similar to John Lannon. Currently his sits at .265 which seems incredibly lucky. However if you look at his babip the 3 years he was good you see that the babip is not extraordinary for Guthrie. in 2008 it was .267 just 2 points off, in 2007 it was .277. Since joining the Orioles Guthrie has not had a babip over .300. Last year’s bad season was achieved with only a .294 babip while increasing his flyball rate which is unusual and doesn’t explain why he was so terrible in 2009. However 3 years of very low babips should be
    statistically significant.

    I think a year ago I wrote an article about Guthrie’s tendency to outperform his FIP and pointed out very similar stuff. It may be time to do an update.

    Comment by OsandRoyals — September 19, 2010 @ 4:18 am

  16. Its a paradox

    These sort of “look at these guys who have gotten lucky” articles should be obvious and unnecessary. And yet, the failure of you people to understand the principles behind this type of article suggest that you need further education.

    RANDOM SHIT HAPPENS. Just as a coin flips heads 10 times in a row, so too do some pitchers come out of the BABIP mud smelling like roses. Why do you assume that 4 seasons is a large enough sample to draw a conclusion on outperforming BABIP. As Viva noted above, SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE suggests that it is not.

    Comment by fanofdefenseagain — September 19, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  17. Just because someone suggests that an individual player is an outlier does not mean that they do not understand the underlying principles of this article. The fact is while most players do not show any ability to post below average BABIP (or otherwise “outpitch” their peripherals) consistently, some do. That is not a failure understand mathematical concepts, it is simply a statement of fact. Look at Matt Cain and Greg Maddux.
    As for your coin flip analogy, it is true that 10 heads in a row is likely a sign of chance it is also a possible signal that you are using a weighted coin. So let me ask you, how many “flips” (ie IP) does Guthrie need before you can admit that it is possible that Guthrie may be weighted.

    Comment by frug — September 19, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

  18. I was going to say the same thing. The people at fangraphs tend to put way too much stock into their own metrics. Plenty of guys out-pitch their peripherals. I also have a major problem with the UZR/150, but that is another topic.

    Comment by waroriole — September 19, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  19. I am an Orioles fan and I do agree with you. Matt has received some harsh comments. I don’t think that the anger or frustration has anything to do with Matt’s article, it simply stings to realize that there is not a single star on the team and that their recent surge of winning is largely influenced by luck.

    Comment by Piccamo — September 19, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

  20. I agree that Roberts has made a huge difference, but even though Miggy had his problems at third, Josh Bell isn’t really an upgrade defensively.

    Comment by Bill — September 20, 2010 @ 11:08 am

  21. I’m not going to call you a troll, because there is a difference between pre- and post-Showalter Guthrie, although I don’t particularly buy that Buck had anything to do with it. However, please don’t try to use winning % as a legitimate argument on this site, no one will agree with you using winning % over a 2 month span as useful.

    Comment by Rob — September 20, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

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