Archive for Pitching

The Biggest ERA-FIP Differences of 2014

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is one of the more prominently featured statistics on FanGraphs and one of the bedrocks of sabermetric analysis. We all know that FIP is an imperfect measure of pitcher performance because it assumes average results on all balls in play, but we also know that it does a better job isolating the individual pitcher’s performance than simply looking at their ERA or RA9 because it only looks at strikeouts, walks, home runs, and hit batters. It’s a very informative tool, but it’s a metric derived from a subset of results.

When a pitcher’s ERA is significantly different from their FIP, the standard credo is that they were lucky or unlucky, but there are genuine reasons why a pitcher might have results that are better or worse than their FIP. To illustrate this, let’s take a peak at the biggest FIP over and under-performers of 2014.

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Pitchers and Injuries: It Happens

When news broke on Wednesday of Adam Wainwright‘s season-ending injury, it obviously was quite distressing news for Cardinals fans. Not only was Wainwright the ace of the Cardinals’ pitching staff, but the Cardinals are projected to be thick in the race for the NL Central, making his contributions all the more valuable. While Wainwright isn’t costing the Cardinals much this season, the list of pitchers that will be competing to replace him isn’t anything to get excited about. If I were a Cardinals fan, I’d be watching this video over and over and over again, drowning my sorrows in fond memories and root beer.

But Wainwright’s injury isn’t traumatic only for Cardinals fans: no matter what team you root for, this news is frightening. Wainwright is a relatively young pitcher (entering his age 29 season) and he’s pitched 230 innings each of the previous two years. He’s been a perennial Cy Young contender, and never had significant arm issues before. If this sort of an injury can happen to him, well, who isn’t at risk?

This is probably old news for the majority of FanGraphs readers, but this point can’t be driven home often enough: pitchers are fickle creatures that are always at risk for an injury.

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