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  1. I think the fact that he has an obvious nick-name in “Hell-Boy” helped his candidacy!

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — November 15, 2011 @ 9:04 am

  2. Hellickson threw just 18 more innings than Pineda and was worse than him by a win and a half. This is a pretty bad selection. There’s an argument to be made that Hellickson could have finished 3rd or 4th but 1st? Really bad.

    Comment by chuckb — November 15, 2011 @ 9:09 am

  3. Maybe the MLB should just make a ROY WAR award so everyone will be happy

    Comment by Drew — November 15, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  4. Maybe they should make WAR versions of every award, to keep fangraphs happy

    Comment by Bobby Ayala — November 15, 2011 @ 9:19 am

  5. First, excellent TGSW! I like it. Second, and more important, I understand WAR and FIP, etc. a little. But shouldn’t we look at final results to decide who wins? Hell-Boy gave up <3.00 runs per nine innings and won 13 games. How else should I evaluate and compare him to the competition? I want the pitcher(s) who give up the least amount of runs and win the most games. I really don't care if they are due to regress or lucky. I want to win NOW. And in looking back I want to vote for the player that helped his team win the most last year. That was Hell-Boy and not Pineda. Had Hell-Boy put up an ERA of 3.95 and only won 9 games the Rays do not make the playoffs. That's how I want to decide my winner. The arguement for Hosmer might be different but I'm not making that comparison here.

    Comment by Chicago Mark — November 15, 2011 @ 9:22 am

  6. You don’t need a full article explaining this. The main reason he won is because of his great ERA and high IP.

    Comment by how it is — November 15, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  7. I like the read though How….

    Comment by Chicago Mark — November 15, 2011 @ 9:33 am

  8. Did Hell-Boy give up less than 3 runs per 9 innings or did Hell-Boy *and the defense* give up less than 3 runs per 9 innings?

    Comment by Norm — November 15, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  9. We’re measuring the player and not the team. Hell-Boy gave up <3.00 runs per game. We should not measure him on how he coulda/shoulda done with a different team in a different stadium. We're giving the award to a player. And we measure the player on results, not expected results.

    Comment by Chicago Mark — November 15, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  10. Yeah but Hellickson led all AL Rookies in B-R WAR. So now you have a WAR war.

    Comment by Nick — November 15, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  11. Hellickson deserved and earned it. You can’t base the selection with W-L’s being a heavy factor in the decision making because W-L’s can often times have absolutely NOTHING to do with how good a pitcher a person is. Out of the 10 losses that he had, I believe 9 of them were lost because the Rays offense gave no run support… Give the Rays some of the big hitters and the W-L’s would have been completely different. So all of you haters GET A CLUE.

    Comment by chris — November 15, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  12. baseballreference and baseballamerica followers won’t think it’s such a bad selection.

    With an article like this, I’d like to know more about (for instance) why I should believe in the fangraphs rookie WAR standings more than any other (an example being baseballreference, having Hellickson as the highest rookie WAR accumulator).

    Comment by baty — November 15, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  13. If that is the case then Nova beats out Helly. Nova won 16 games and spent a month in the minors. Nova’s ERA is inflated by his starts at Yankee stadium, a hitters park by all accounts. Hellickson thrived at the trop but gave up 11 home runs, one more than Nova at Yankee stadium. However, going to road records where you can get a balanced and even comparison of the two, Nova beats out Hellickson in almost every category including WAR, ERA and WHIP, WINS, HRs allowed (only 3 to Helly’s 10). I wonder how Helly would have fared in a Yankee Uniform. Yes, a hypothetical do not count but just sayin’…. nonetheless, Helly deserved it as well as if any of the other top five would have received it… it wasn’t a runaway.

    Comment by alcan — November 15, 2011 @ 9:51 am

  14. Then maybe we should rename the award to “Best Rookie and, If the Rookie is a Pitcher, Also Best Supporting Defense”

    Comment by Cliff — November 15, 2011 @ 9:55 am

  15. I yearn for the day we have enough technology, knowledge and statistics to truly diferentiate between fielding contributions and pitcher contributions. Don’t get me wrong fangraphs is better at this than Bill James, Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Reference and whoever else. Still we lack the proper knowledge to ACCURATELY measure these things. We’re getting their yet we need more. The future is an exciting thing in this area as the answers will be revealed.

    Comment by sheath1976 — November 15, 2011 @ 9:58 am

  16. Let’s not forget that Hellickson had a 2.95 ERA and a .660 OPS-against. That’s a 4.20 WAR on baseball-reference. That lead all AL rookies by a large margin.

    Last year seemed to be the first time that the BBWAA ignored pitcher wins (see Felix Hernandez), and now you suddenly expect them to adopt defense-independent stats that contradict ERA and OPS?

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — November 15, 2011 @ 10:00 am

  17. Not really Nick. BR pitcher war is based on ERA, which makes it worthless to everyone who isn’t an official scorer.

    Comment by Cardsfan — November 15, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  18. That’s Hell-Boy to you Alcan! :) Anyway, you’re talking woulda and shoulda again. He gave up 2.95 R/Gm AND won 13. I understand the Nova arguement. I don’t know where he landed in voting. But I can absolutely buy Hellickson winning it and not Pineda or Nova. It’s all about the results and not expected results. That’s how the vote should go. Isn’t it? What RESULTS should we vote for? I just don’t understand the arguement.

    Comment by Chicago Mark — November 15, 2011 @ 10:04 am

  19. Exactly!

    This is what people that always rag on fWAR for pitchers are missing.

    fWAR for pitchers is not intended as an end-all, be-all for evaluating pitchers. In fact, articles have been posted by FG explaining that they completely agree with many of the shortcomings of fWAR for pitchers that are pointed out regularly, with the point being that they feel given what we are currently able to measure, this is still the best way currently possible (not BEST theoretically) to evaluate a pitcher strictly on his own merits.

    Comment by Nathan — November 15, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  20. I wouldn’t say that Fangraphs is necessarily better at differentiating between pitcher and defensive contributions. It simply takes a different approach. Fangraphs adheres to DIPS theory, which holds that the pitcher ONLY controls Ks, BBs, and HRs. Once the ball is in play, it’s all on the defense. Baseball-Reference, on the other hand, believes that a pitcher is responsible for all the runs allowed. The truth is clearly somewhere in the middle. How good is a pitcher at inducing weak contact? Infield fly balls? Did pitcher X have bad luck on balls in play, or did his pitching style result in lots of line drives? What percentage of the runs allowed were because of poor pitching vs. poor defense? We don’t have answers for those questions yet, so both all advanced pitching metrics should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Comment by Josh — November 15, 2011 @ 10:10 am

  21. You’re really reaching here. There are plenty of stats that make park adjustments. Among park-adjusted stats, Hellickson lead Nova in ERA+, ERA-, OPS+, and bWAR by a healthy margin.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — November 15, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  22. While at first glance it appears that Pineda is above and beyond Hellickson in terms of peripherals, it should be noted that since Hellickson appears to be an extreme flyballer, the rules of DIPS theory probably don’t apply to him that well. There is a chance he falls in the Cain/Weaver camp of not needing a great K/BB ratio to see good results.

    Comment by John — November 15, 2011 @ 10:15 am

  23. CM, if we’re measuring the player and not the team, shouldn’t we try to isolate the player’s individual contribution to the team’s success? If the results are partially due to the skill of someone else, why should the pitcher get credit for it?

    Comment by LTG — November 15, 2011 @ 10:16 am

  24. @Chicago Mark

    Taking out all of the woulda shoulda coulda’s Hellickson actually gave up 3.05 runs per 9 innings.

    He gave up 62 earned runs in 189 innings which is 2.95 runs per 9.

    BUT he gave up 64 runs in runs in 189 innings which is 3.05 runs per 9.

    What’s the difference between and earned run allowed and a run allowed? Only the scorer’s expectation of what play a defensive player SHOULD have made.

    If you’re going to use the ‘let’s just count what happened on the field’ argument then you can’t use ERA.

    Comment by filihok — November 15, 2011 @ 10:24 am

  25. I would agree with this. We feel the need to justify a low ERA but cannot put into question a high FIP. I feel both need examination and you simply cannot throw either out the window.

    Comment by Jonathan C. Mitchell — November 15, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  26. Yeah, I’m not going to blame the BBWAA too much for this one. Look, they ignored wins, which is great and looks like it’s becoming a trend, and instead looked at ERA, which in most cases is a pretty good indicator of pitching performance. Yeah, he may have had some good defense behind him that led to his huge ERA-FIP gap, but that’s not something I at all expect the BBWAA to see. Let’s just applaud them for not picking Nova, which would have been pretty much entirely based on wins (despite him having higher WAR then Hellickson).

    Comment by Matt H — November 15, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  27. Yes, lets base pitching awards on FIP

    AL CYYoung winner = Brandon McCarthy

    Comment by mister_rob — November 15, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  28. Cardsfan, bWAR isn’t based on ERA. It’s based on runs-allowed. Unearned runs count just as much as earned runs, so it’s not based on arbitrary decisions by official scorers.

    And bWAR (like fWAR) includes league- and park-adjustments, a different replacement level for starters and relievers, and a leverage-adjustment for relievers. It’s a pretty robust stat and isn’t as stone-age as ERA.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — November 15, 2011 @ 10:49 am

  29. and Liriano would have been the CYYoung winner the year before

    Thank god for FIP. I would have never realized McCarthy and Liriano were the 2 best pitchcers the last 2 years respectively

    Because you know, FIP accurately describes best what happened on the field

    justin Verlander’s got nothing on Brandon McCarthy

    Comment by mister_rob — November 15, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  30. How do you know that the pitcher didn’t adjust how he pitches because of his supporting cast? Hell, I’d pitch to contact with a great defense! That means more innings for me, which, in the end, helps my team out way more than only going 5 innings and striking far more guys out.

    Comment by Patricio — November 15, 2011 @ 11:11 am

  31. Also, Nova played FOR the Yankees…meaning, even though he is in the AL east, he is not facing the Yankees lineup…ever.

    Comment by Patricio — November 15, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  32. Josh, I agree. The fact is that some pitchers have an uncanny ability to induce weak contact, and it can even (sometimes) be seen in the consistent difference between their FIP/xFIP/SIERA and their actual ERA. Also, I feel as though mentality is completely ignored when it comes to stats. Let’s face it, some people thrive under pressure, and others wilt the minute they’re in a tough spot. To claim certain situations are only a matter of “luck” is ignoring a plethora of circumstances.

    Comment by Patricio — November 15, 2011 @ 11:21 am

  33. I have to agree with this somewhat -
    You have to go with what happened, not what COULD have happened.

    If a guy hits .230, but with a .050 BABIP, and a .350 xBABIP, should he get the batting title? No. He may have “deserved” to hit .350 (or whatever) but he didn’t.

    Obviously with pitching there’s a little more to it than that, but these awards are for performance, not expected performance

    Comment by j bones — November 15, 2011 @ 11:22 am

  34. Most people still consider ERA an accurate measure of the pitcher’s performance. They can accept that wins can be fluky. But getting them to abandon ERA in lieu of measures that are more directly a function of the pitcher’s performance is whole other ball of wax.

    Just because something “happened on the field” while the pitcher was pitching doesn’t mean that the pitcher deserves credit/blame for it happening. Yeah, your LF really did completely botch that play. And yeah, the official scorer didn’t give him an error because he didn’t touch the ball (his break was horrible and his route was worse). And yeah, two runs scored as a result. That doesn’t mean the pitcher didn’t do his job nor that the runs should really be considered “earned”.

    Why is it so hard for people to accept that ERA is a measure of run prevention, not pitching performance? Yes, those are closely related but ERA is not what the pitcher did or did not do in the way that OBP and SLG are.

    Comment by RMR — November 15, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  35. yes, whereas fangraphs WAR is based on stone-age FIP

    Comment by gnomez — November 15, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  36. Yirm, My bad, reading the BR glossary now.

    Comment by Cardsfan — November 15, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  37. This. It’s amazing how often this debate comes up on these boards, and how people still think FIP is theoretical and RA is ‘actually what happened’. By the way, B-R WAR for pitchers uses a blanket defensive adjustment, THAT is theoretical and not at all “what actually happened on the field”.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  38. FIP is not expected performance, it is a measure of performance.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 11:59 am

  39. so FIP is what actually happened on the field?

    would you then vote for Brandon McCarthy for Cy Young this year?
    Fransisco Liriano last year?

    They led the AL in FIP the last 2 years

    Comment by mister_rob — November 15, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

  40. I wouldn’t vote for any player based on 1 stat. Because that is dumb.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  41. So there was a 1.5 run difference between Hellickson’s ERA and FIP. Over 190 innings, that’s about a 30 run difference. The TB team UZR for the season was 53.7, which was over ~1450-1500 innings.

    So that means that the TB defense did 55% of their good defense over 13% of their innings.

    IOW, they had a UZR/150 of 23 for Hellickson, and 5 for every other pitcher.

    Is everyone comfortable enough with UZR to believe that?

    Comment by beconstructive — November 15, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  42. FIP isnt really a single stat. Its a compilation of numbers that according to you best describes what took place on the field

    According to FIP, Brandon McCarthy was slightly better than Verlander this year. Therefore, I conclude FIP isnt all that accurate in describing what really happened

    Comment by mister_rob — November 15, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  43. ERA is compilation of numbers. Batting average is a compilation of numbers. WAR is a compilation of numbers. And I never said it best describes what too place on the field. I said it is a measurement of what actually happened on the field, because, well, where else do strikeouts, walks, and homeruns happen if not on the field. There is nothing theoretical about it and it isn’t dependent on the defense converting anything to an out or lack of. If you want to conclude that FIP is a crock because McCarthy had a lower FIP than Verlander this year than you are free to do that.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  44. Santos, if you want to be literal, walks/strikeouts/HR’s don’t take place on the field. The ball never touches the ground.

    /snark.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — November 15, 2011 @ 12:25 pm

  45. Yes, there is some level of mental fortitude involved in pitcher performance, though I think it’s often overstated. But Fangraphs WAR doesn’t account for things like holding down the running game. For example, Mark Buehrle regularly outperforms his FIP despite pedestrian stuff and less-than-amazing defenses behind him. In part, it’s because he picks off so many guys and allows so few stolen bases. That isn’t reflected in FIP of fWAR. However, it does come into play with runs allowed and thus rWAR.

    Comment by Josh — November 15, 2011 @ 12:26 pm

  46. Oh snap, Snark attack.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

  47. If only it was Lackey’s rookie season, we could have high hopes for the future…

    http://www.overthemonster.com/2011/10/27/2518639/born-under-a-bad-sign-john-lackey-and-the-impact-of-luck

    Comment by Dan — November 15, 2011 @ 12:30 pm

  48. mister_rob:

    According to ERA, Ryan Vogelson was a better pitcher than Tim Lincecum. Therefore, I conclude ERA isnt all that accurate in describing what really happened.

    See…I can do it too.

    Comment by los — November 15, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

  49. As others have pointed out, Hellickson was first in AL rookies in 2011 when ranked by b-refWAR.

    This purports to be an article about how voters didn’t look at advanced statistics when it’s really more about how voters didn’t look at Fangraphs’ advance statistics in particular.

    All of your writers know that there are two major versions of WAR on the internet (plus WARP plus Win Shares) so there is not a consensus on how best to reflect a player’s value in a single statistic.

    Comment by Detroit Michael — November 15, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  50. Mister Rob, if you want to measure everything happened on the field, go for it. But don’t base an individual award on what the team as a whole accomplished.

    Specifically to FIP, yes, it is a measure of stuff that actually happened “on the field”. All FIP does is measure what happened on the field, put those things in balance based on their impact on run prevention and then apply a uniform adjustment to make it look like an ERA.

    If what we’re trying to do is answer the question, which guy PITCHED better, not which guy had the least runs score against his team while he was the pitcher “of record”, then FIP is better than ERA.

    It’s funny how obsessed you are with “what actually happened” but seem to have trouble with the whole “happened to whom” part of that. Maybe we should award the MVP to the position player on the team that scored the most runs while he was in the lineup. I mean, that’s what happened “on the field”, right?

    Comment by RMR — November 15, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

  51. FIP and SIERA are an attempt to separate the pitcher’s ability from his surroundings – such as his home park and defense. Hellickson had the advantage of playing in a relatively neutral park behind the best defense in baseball (2nd in UZR; 1st in DER). 78% of balls put in play against Hellickson were converted into outs; 82% of runners he allowed to reach base were stranded. It’s highly unlikely that these results are due to a blend of unique skills that Hellickson possesses.

    That’s the argument against giving him the award – that individual awards should be to reward great individual performances. Hellickson had a good season, but it was as much a credit to the guys behind him as it was his own pitching.

    Comment by Adam W — November 15, 2011 @ 12:57 pm

  52. Everyone seems to forget that awards are based on what actually happened, not what theoretically should have happened (i.e., results not projections).

    Comment by James — November 15, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

  53. What’s UZR have to do with anything? It has nothing to do with this conversation.

    If there’s a gap between FIP and ERA, it’s because of defense, luck, baserunning, hitting with men in scoring position, random variation, and lots of other minutae.

    The difference between the entire Tampa pitching staff’s ERA and FIP is 0.45 runs, which is about 72 runs over the course of their 1449-inning season. Doing the same math for Hellickson, he out-performed his FIP by about 31 runs.

    But this exercise tells us nothing. By breaking up a sample (team defense while Hellickson is pitching vs team defense while others are pitching), you always get anomalies. A.J. Burnett had a 1.02 ERA on Wednesdays.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — November 15, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

  54. Results people, results.
    Who cares if he’s going to regress next year and if his numbers were unsustainable, fact is the numbers he put up are real and aren’t going to disappear anytime soon. That’s what you base awards on, what did happen, not what should of happened.

    Pineda wasn’t too great in the second half and I’m sure they also looked at the fact that Hellickson was pitching great in the middle of a playoff race as well, regardless of how fair that is.

    Comment by Pat — November 15, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  55. ERA tells us what did happen. FIP tells us what should have happened. I’ll give out awards based on ACTUAL results any day.

    Comment by adohaj — November 15, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  56. How is ERA a record of pitcher performance though? Isn’t it more a record of team performance (with a bit of scorekeeper subjectivity thrown in)? It’s how many runs a team allows while a certain pitcher is on the mound. Do we just heap all that run prevention responsibility on the pitcher? Give none of it to the defense (outside of “errors”)? Should we blame a pitcher for things he couldn’t control? Should “luck” really be a factor in performance evaluation and should removing factors such as luck and defense really only apply to future predictions and not past evaluations?

    FIP is, in fact, a record of performance as well, and individual performance much moreso than ERA. Its a record of how many combined HR,BB, and Ks a pitcher allowed (with values assigned to each relative to each other and scaled to ERA for familiarity’s sake). At least in this case, defense is removed from the equation (and to some degree, “luck” as well). FIP’s scope is limited, in a general sense maybe too limited, but at least said scope is limited to what it claims to measure–pitcher performance.

    If two pitchers each faced the same 21 batters under the same conditions–each struck out the same 7 batters and walked the same 2 batters, and each of the other 12 batters put balls in play with identical direction and velocity, but one pitcher left having given up 4 runs and the other left having given up 1 run, should we treat those performances as different? Nothing either pitcher did was different. What case can be made that, as far as pitcher performance goes, one was superior to the other?

    Comment by Mark — November 15, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  57. I guess I have trouble buying into FIP being a better measurement of what actually happened because I dont buy into the fact that BABIP is the result of only defense or luck

    If this is true, why do teams bother with things such as advanced scouting or pitch charts?

    For example, Ive watched ryan theriot take at least a thousand ABs. He generally makes contact. But he is physically unable to hit anything on the outer half with any authority. If someone is dumb enough (or misses his spot) and throws him something he can pull down the line for extrabases, he deserves to get dinged more than a guy who hits his spot and forces a 70 foot tapper in the direction of second base

    Maybe a guy like Pineda just isnt as good as Hellickson is at executing a game plan

    I know this site isnt big on old baseball cliches, but there is something to pitching to your defense and the scouting reports. Some guys have better control within the zone than others

    Comment by mister_rob — November 15, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  58. No. FIP tells you what happened.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 2:21 pm

  59. people are trying to sparse out what success was due to hellickson and what was due to his defense and what was immeasurable (what we classify as randomness/luck). so i think it’s incredibly relevant.

    i personally could buy deducting ‘credit’ from Hellickson if he had a really good defense behind him (UZR). i would not deduct credit for him getting pop-ups and weak contact and getting high-leverage outs (luck/randomness). sure, maybe those stats are not as repeatable as K/BB and HR rate or UZR, but he had the most control over it out of anyone on his team, and it helped his team win baseball games, which is the bottom line in all of this.

    Comment by beconstructive — November 15, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  60. It only tells you about HRs, Ks, and BBs.

    The only reason people care about it so much is because it’s a better predictor than ERA going forward.

    Comment by beconstructive — November 15, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  61. What is up with all the anti-FIP comments? Did Fangraphs just get overrun by the ESPN.com userbase?

    Comment by Crap Shoot — November 15, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  62. Right it only tells you about the things that the pitcher is solely responsible for. It doesn’t tell you about the slow left fielder or the second baseman with no range because they aren’t pitchers. So lets stop assigning credit/blame to pitchers for things other guys do. It’s really simple.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  63. Greg Maddux almost always outpitched his FIP during his prime. For the decade of the 90′s he outpitched it by about a quarter of a run per nine

    John Smoltz, pitching for the same defense in the same ballparks in the same time frame generally pitched worse than his FIP during the nineties

    Luck?
    Or the fact that Maddux was known as someone who could religiously hit his spot and was nicknamed “the professor” for his knowledge of advanced scouting?

    Why on gods green earth should we “normalize” Maddux’s BABIP?

    Comment by mister_rob — November 15, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  64. I think people are pissy (rightfully so) that Pineda didn’t garner a first place vote on any ballot.

    I don’t have a problem with Hellickson winning – he had a great year for a rookie. I think the bigger travesty, to me, is that Mark Trumbo and his .291 OBP (.327 wOBA) picked up 5 of those votes….because he hit 29 homers of course. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve to be on any ballots (if you go by FG, he did have 2.4 WAR) but I found it amusing he got 5 votes to Pineda’s 0.

    Comment by mscace — November 15, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

  65. We shouldn’t….people need to understand that once a pitcher has pitched a significant number of innings, you can get a pretty damn good feel for what their BABIP should be (taken Rivera, as another example).

    When people bitch about luck for these guys, they need to give their heads a shake — these pitchers are consistently doing something to earn that lower than average BABIP.

    Comment by mscace — November 15, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  66. You’re conflating UZR with defense.

    So, if you can buy deducting credit from Hellickson if he had a really good defense behind him, do that. Hellickson had a really good defense behind him. One of the best in baseball, and even better when Hellickson happened to be behind the plate.

    Comment by Yirmiyahu — November 15, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  67. What are you talking about? Every play that takes place on a baseball field is a shared responsibility. There’s no such thing as sole responsibility.

    Comment by baty — November 15, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

  68. It also doesn’t tell you about the pitcher’s ability to hold runners, pick off runners, and induce weak contact.

    But wait, I thought you said it tells us about the things the pitcher is solely responsible for? I guess the batters are solely responsible for every weakly hit ball, and the baserunners are solely responsible for not taking large leads, not stealing, or being caught stealing.

    Comment by Drew — November 15, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  69. Mark: There is a place for runs allowed (not ERA, but RA) in the discussion too. FIP is far too limited to tell the complete story. A pitcher who (due to quirks of sample size) does not give up a lot of home runs but gives up a ton of rocket doubles off the top of the wall will be idolized by FIP because non-home run XBHs are completely ignored in the formula despite being pretty clearly at least partially due to pitcher skill (at least if you’re willing to grant that home runs are). In the long run these quirks balance out and some of those hits squeak over the fence, but we’re talking about end of season awards, not long run projections.

    Maybe we don’t need the perfect DIPS stat that takes into effect everything and we just need to integrate contemporary sabermetric analysis and some of the less idiotic “old school” stats.

    Comment by JG — November 15, 2011 @ 5:20 pm

  70. Is your argument that pitchers have no say in singles, doubles, triples, ground outs, fly outs, etc.? Not even for one season? That’s absurd.

    FIP tells you what the pitcher and hitter did in certain black and white instances, and makes a crude approximation for what the pitcher/hitter/fielders did in the remaining.

    ERA of course tells you how much the pitcher/hitter/fielders contributed to runs, with an approximation for errors.

    Luck and randomness are of course present throughout it all.

    Neither stat if close to perfect, of course, but when reflecting on a player’s performance, I’ll lean more to ERA than FIP.

    Comment by beconstructive — November 15, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

  71. I’m sorry, isn’t UZR a measure of defense?

    And I do deduct some credit from Hellickson, but certainly not the majority of the difference between his FIP and ERA.

    Comment by beconstructive — November 15, 2011 @ 5:34 pm

  72. okay here’s a problem I have with fangraphs pitching WAR, someone asked why not use xFIP or SIERA instead of FIP, they said because xFIP and SIERA are meant to be predictive, FIP is supposed to tell what happened but is still defense independent, and that xFIP and SIERA don’t include luck and WAR should. Well Tom Tango did a regression analysis that said these are the factors on what happens to a ball in play

    48% Luck
    28% Pitcher
    18% Defense
    6% park

    so basically your fixing the 18% but excluding the 48% you said should be in their and the 28% that is a pitcher’s skill. Why don’t you just do what baseball reference does, and adjust for defense using team defense stats, then you fix the defensive independent problem, keep luck and a pitcher’s skill. This is why despite fangraphs’ offensive and defensive numbers have much higher correlations with wins than baseball reference, the overall WAR has a lower correlation with wins because baseball-reference does pitching right, fangraphs dosen’t.

    Comment by thomas — November 15, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  73. At no point was my argument that pitchers have no say in singles, doubles, triples, groundouts, flyouts, etc. When people misconstrue what the word “solely” means, it might seem like it. Saying a pitcher is solely responsible for certain things is NOT the same as saying they are the ONLY things he is responsible for. There is a distinct and important difference. The point of FIP is to isolate the things that a pitcher does that does not involve his defense. This is done because you don’t want to evaluate a pitcher based on something he didn’t do. At this point there is no stat that can take balls in play into account and separate the shared responsibility between pitcher and fielders. I welcome that when it comes along. Until then, we have ERA which tells us what the pitcher, defense, and scorekeeper did, RA which tells us what the pitcher and defense did, and FIP which tells us what the pitcher did. I fully acknowledge that it ignores the results of the balls in play.

    Comment by Santos — November 15, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

  74. I completely understand the sentiment of this article, and why the author and many are frustrated with Hellickson winning so easily over Pineda, etc. However, I think that the way this article is worded is completely misguided. It comes off as very condescending, and does absolutely nothing to further the conversation about which advanced stats should be used in which scenarios. If you’re going to religiously evaluate end of season awards based solely on fWAR, then you’re just as bad as someone who refuses to look beyond HR and RBI for the MVP.

    What I’m trying to say is that the author should have argued why you shouldn’t trust bWAR and other stats, instead of simply saying he finished eighth in fWAR among AL rookie pitchers. I love Fangraphs, but I think this article is extremely biased and unfair to baseball analysis in general. The point of sites like this one is to work together to understand baseball better, and putting all your faith in one stat does not accomplish that goal.

    Comment by Matt S — November 15, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  75. Thanks, Chicago Mark.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — November 15, 2011 @ 9:19 pm

  76. This article purports to be a look at how the voters came to their decision to vote for Hellickson. At no point do I say “the voters should really look at the advanced stats more.” Yes, I cite WAR because I believe it’s one of the most accurate representations of what happens on the field (certainly more accurate than wins and ERA).

    I also point out that I have no issue with the selection, so there’s no sense of “they didn’t use our WAR, how dare they” in the article.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — November 15, 2011 @ 9:28 pm

  77. Matt,

    I would like to address your points here.

    1. At no point do I suggest that I am frustrated by the fact that Hellickson won the award over Pineda. I’m not sure where you are getting that from. At the end of the article, I even mention that I’m fine with Hellickson winning the award based on the criterion used the evaluate the players.

    2. This article was not about whether the voters should have used advanced stats in the voting either. That’s why it was titled “Why Jeremy Hellickson Won.” It was merely a look into how the voters came to their conclusions and what stats seem to matter to the voters. If I was going to write an article about what stats should have been used in the voting process, I probably would have titled it “Jeremy Hellickson is a poor choice for AL ROY, and here’s why,” or something like that.

    3. At no point do I say that WAR is the only stat the voters should use when determining who to vote for. Future projection and length of performance are two of the main areas I highlight in the article. I argue that both help Hellickson’s candidacy for the award, so clearly I’m not just depending on WAR here.

    4. I have no issues with B-R WAR and I have no intention of starting an internet argument about it. I cited FanGraphs WAR because I write for FanGraphs and I have faith in the statistics we provide. If you want to know the methodology behind how we calculate WAR, I point you to this article:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/why-our-pitcher-war-uses-fip/

    Hope that helps.

    Comment by Chris Cwik — November 15, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

  78. Some people are arguing that Hellickson’s low BABIP was largely due to the stellar defense. Sure, good defense and good luck probably helped Hellickson, but overall I don’t buy that excuse for his prolonged success.

    From my point of view, Hellickson purposely pitched in a certain way to induce weak fly balls and pop outs by constantly jamming opponents. In fact, amongst rookie pitchers with at least 150.0 innings pitched, Jeremy had the highest FB% (at 45%), highest IFFB% (at 16.2%), and lowest HR/FB ratio (at 8.1%).

    Furthermore, Jeremy also had the most innings pitched (at 189.0).

    It takes skill to constantly induce weak fly balls and pop outs, and these stats prove it.

    The problem is that baseball lacks a statistic which measures the skill of inducing weak fly balls and pop outs. In fact, I don’t think there is a statistic that counts the number weak fly balls. Neither FIP nor xFIP account for fly balls (FB), weak fly balls, and pop outs (IFFB), and thus FIP and xFIP are not good measures of Jeremy’s talent because it is Jeremy’s STYLE TO INDUCE FLY BALLS.

    ———————————————————-
    On another note, FIP and xFIP will only consider defense independent statistics, such as K, BB, and HR. And the prevailing argument is that it disregards the varying levels of a team’s defense and it ignores the luck.

    However, it is not because of ‘stellar defense’ that an infielder caught a pop-out. It’s not because of ‘luck’ that outfielder caught a weak fly ball. In fact, if a pitcher can constantly induce weak fly balls and pop outs, I would call it skill. Apart from pop-ups, for some weird reason, the number of weak fly balls is not counted. Why? We count the number of ground balls. We count the number of fly balls. Why not weak fly balls? Then create a stat that measure a pitcher’s ability to induce weak fly balls and pop outs. It will be similar to BABIP, but only for fly balls and pop ups.

    Comment by Brian — November 15, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  79. minster_rob:

    I don’t think you know the difference between a stat and a number.

    Comment by Sean — November 15, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

  80. Cardsfan, what do you mean not really? All I said was he led AL rookies in B-R WAR. That’s a true statement. And “WAR war” is just a pun that was more positively received than I anticipated. I never suggested that one is superior to the other. I am taking no side in the WAR war.

    Comment by Nick — November 16, 2011 @ 12:30 am

  81. Hellickson was the right choice. If we’re going to say Hellickson didn’t deserve based on WAR then we might as well say John Lackey was better than Hellickson. Sabermetrics are good for the majority but there’s always the exceptions. Fact of the matter is, Hellickson’s numbers will probably go back to his career minor league numbers next year. He’s going to be even better. Especially since this year, he’s proven he creates weak contact off the bat.

    Comment by Roy J — November 16, 2011 @ 5:51 am

  82. @RMR; What should we base our decisions on? This is sounding smart ass and I don’t mean to. But would you prefer to give your Cy Young to the pitcher that had some mx of the best (K/9, BB/9, G/FB%)? Am I wrong to believe the best pitcher CAN get a K when the bases are loaded with one out rather than give up a fly ball or worse, a hit. Am I wrong to believe the best pitcher (or at least better pitcher) can induce a ground ball under those circumstances? The best pitchers are better at preventing runs. I understand your thoughts on that grounder dropped and runs scored are not his fault. But that grounder goes for the DP much more than the error occurs. So my pitcher may have walked an extra player. Our his defense might have allowed an extra runner. But HE was the most responsible in avoiding the run scored. I’m rambling now. And I’m old school who likes era over FIP or whatever it might be.

    Comment by Chicago Mark — November 16, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  83. FIP is definitely too limited, but my point was just that contrary to the argument made by James, it is much more a record of a pitcher’s actual accomplishments than ERA or RA, which is a record of a team’s accomplishments during innings in which a specific pitcher pitches. I’m not saying RA is useless in pitcher evaluation, but its like using goals allowed to evaluate a goalie in hockey. Its relevant, but its scope is much broader than a single player performance. On the other hand, FIP measures things that can really only be credited to the pitcher-batter interaction. It leaves a lot out, but its usually a better starting point to look at something too limited but within the scope of the discussion than something that goes outside the scope of the discussion and try to filter and pare that down.

    The example I gave is a perfect example of how flawed straight RA can be. Hypothetically, its possible for two pitchers to produce identical performances batter-to-batter, but leave to completely different scores.

    Comment by Mark — November 16, 2011 @ 9:42 am

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