Marlins Win Christmas Day Extension

Ricky Nolasco was headed into this third arbitration season after achieving Super 2 status in 2009. That is no longer his concern after inking a three-year contract with the Florida Marlins. Per MLB.com, the terms of the deal call for $6 million in 2011, $9 million for ’12 and $11.5 million for ’13. There is also an innings bonus of up to a half million per season.

He was under team control for 2011 and 2012 before being free agent eligible. The general model is that arbitration-eligible players are expected to earn around 40% of their free agent market value in their first year, 60% in their second and 80% in their third and final year of arbitration.

Super 2s complicate that, but with the base salaries listed it is clear that Nolasco will be underpaid. If you figure $11.5 million as the free agent base value, then Nolasco is getting 52% for his third year of arbitration and 78% in his fourth.

On top of that, $11.5 million is paying Nolasco as if he’s approximately a 2.5-win pitcher. Nolasco easily exceeded that in both 2008 and 2009 and even matched that in an injury-shortened 2010 season. All the Marlins need is for him to do is repeat 2010 three more times and they’ll have broken even. Is that feasible for Nolasco?

After one of the most unlucky seasons in 2009, Nolasco posted similar core numbers in 2010 and saw his atrociously unlucky 61% strand rate in 2009 rebound to a much more usual 72%. And though his strikeouts dropped a little, he reduced his walks proportionally and even upped his swinging strike rate. He missed some time with a knee injury, but non-arm injuries are less worrisome and he remains a fair bet to log at least another 150+ innings of mid-3 xFIP in 2011 and beyond.

The Marlins got themselves a good deal here that could turn into a fantastic deal if Nolasco stays completely healthy.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.


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Bob
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Bob

Over the last three years, Fangraphs has Nolasco worth basically 3.5 wins per season. B-Pro, however, had him at 2.5 per annum…and B-Ref says a mere 1.5

Talk to me like a (relatively intelligent) visitor from another planet: Why is B-Pro’s valuation incorrect, and B-Ref’s waaaay off?

Just a bit of food for thought about Nolasco, and why, perhaps, he *isn’t* better than his ERA suggests. How effective is Nolasco over his career, with the bases empty? An OPS allowed of .718, with a K/BB of 5.34

With men on base? A .780 OPS. (And just over 3-1 K-BB, adjusting for IBBs.)

With multiple men on base? Try around .900 OPS permitted.

I’m honestly not trying to be snide–but maybe, just maybe, for some pitchers, we need to look deeper than FIP, xFIP, or, say, SIERRA, to fairly appraise their performance on the hill.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11

I agree with you. As soon as I read the analysis, my first thought was “His fWAR is high, I bet his rWAR is low.”

Nolasco is generally dubbed as “unlucky” because his ERA is always higher (or close to) his FIP.

However, when you are consistently “unlucky”, I think it renders the term “unlucky” useless. Luck implies something that does not happen year after year. Something that regression to the mean.

A pitcher cannot be “unlucky” as their mean. Nor do I think you can blame the defense year after year, when the same scenario is not repeated with the rest of the staff. It’s not like the marlins just happen to play bad defense when RN pitches, just as OAK just doesn’t happen to play like 8 glod glovers when Trevor Cahill pitches.

We have to attribute SOME of the *cough* luck to something the pitcher is doing. We may not know what exactly happens with men on base, or why it happens, but we know that RN consistently underperforms in regards to his FIP. We can’t call it “bad luck” every year. Well, we can but we would not be accurate.

It could be something mental (crapping his pants, losing focus, distracted by runners), it could be mechanical (such as rushing), etc. What IT is does not matters, that IT exists and materializes in his stats does.

Again, “luck” is something that regresses to the mean, otherwise it IS the mean. Nolasco’s FIP is misleading. That has to be (or should be)apparent by now.

Same thing with StL pitchers, when they outperform their FIP 5+ consecutive years, you stop putting so much weight on their FIP, and realize that there is likely more to it than just chuckling and calling it luck.

My perference and what makes the most sense to me is to average fWAR and rWAR and give the pitcher some credit. Not to name drop, but I read similar commnets from Tnago where he said something like “I’d rather be half right than all wrong” … and this is THE guy that developed FIP. Shouldn’t that carry some weight?

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11

Just talking out of interest at this point, and hoping to have something explained …

[1] In batter WAR, we include BABIP which can include good/bad luck*. We do this because it represents what actually happened on the field, instead of going with FIB (Fielding independent batting) that might include only the TTO’s (BB, K, HR). Batter WAR tells us about the value that the batter had based on the actual on-field results. We can look at BABIP to see whether it is it something that the batter is likely to repeat or not.

* Luck = random events compared to the mean.

[2] With fWAR, we ignore BIP data, even though that is actually what occurred on the field.

[3] FIP can also reward/punish the pitcher based on luck on HRA. For example, this year Lee had a 5-game stretch where he was knocked around the ballpark quite a bit. He zoomed up the fWAR charts during this time. The thinking in some circles was that “he was unlucky on BIP.”. Why wouldn;t the thinking be “He is getting lucky that some of those hits are not leaving the park?”. Same thing with Liriano to a degree.

[4] In this context, at least rWAR is consistent for both batters and pitchers in that it gives value based on what hapened on the field … rather than what we think “should” have happened based upon our philosophy or preconceived notions.

So, what I am wondering is why do simultaneously give the batter credit/discredit for good/bad luck on BABIP, but not picthers?

I understand that FIP has some predictive applications by removing the fielding aspect, but why would we include this into WAR vaues for that specific season. Couldn;t we just look at BABIP and HR rate for the season and decide whether the WAR was repeatable (sustainable) or not, just like we do with batters.

I ask because it doesn’t make sense to use two different methods for the same value stats for the two groups of hitters. In short, it seems arbitrary to do so. What is the basis for this.

To not be completely sidetracked …. if we look at Nolascoand average his fWAR and rWAR, we get a 2.5 WAR pitcher …. he’s being paid fairly for the value he produces on the field.

EastCoastBall
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EastCoastBall

Didn’t this exact same situation happen with Dave Bush a few years ago where people kept predicting over and over that his ERA would drop, only to watch him post another poor season? I remember reading a column on ESPN (I think it was by Matthew Berry) apologizing for getting the predictions wrong year after year and talking about how he was just terrible pitching from the stretch, so his numbers were inflated whenever runners were on base. I haven’t done the research everyone else here has but I’ve always made a comparison between the two, though Nolasco is clearly more talented. I always saw Dave Bush as the reason to never discount scouting reports fully during analysis, and his story could be an important lesson when dealing with pitchers like Nolasco.

DIVISION
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DIVISION

Sometimes I wonder if we have too much paralysis by analysis going on in Fangraphs.

As you mentioned, at some point it has to be asked WHY Nolasco’s peripherals ALWAYS seems to be better than his actual performance.

It’s not luck when it’s a consistent theme.

He gets hit harder with men on base.

Bingo!

I think some people here are overreaching with the “luck”.

It’s like someone wishing you “good luck” on a first date.

Luck has nothing to do with it…….

Toffer Peak
Member
Toffer Peak

EastCoastBall – you mean the Dave Bush with the career 4.64 FIP and the correspondingly inflated ERA of 4.66?

fredsbank
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fredsbank

the best part about fangraphs is when people legitimately question their methods, and no one ever answers with a competent defense of FIP, fWAR, etc

Toffer Peak
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Toffer Peak
CircleChange11
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CircleChange11

I just read through those posts, and I’ll be danged if I didn;t say the same things in those threads as I did this one. How unlike me? *grin*

It is weird that “averaging rWAR and fWAR” was never an option.

DC states that both WAR version have their flaws, but averaging them would seem to “reduce” the magnitude of each’s flaws … rather than choosing just one and hoping that it’s the one that most accurately represents the value of the pitcher.

I’m repeating myself again. Crap.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

To answer your question …

Fangraph’s WAR (fWAR) for pitchers is based on FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), a formula calculated by multiplying BB, K, and HR by various factors and scaling it to an ERA-like number. FIP and fWAR ignores all batted ball results.

Baseball reference uses Rally’s WAR (rWAR), which is based on runs allowed and modified by various league/park factors.

phoenix
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phoenix

they should do something that combines them. i am of the opinion that a pitcher can control Ks, BBs, and HRs the most, but getting grounders or getting outs in the air is also a pitcher’s skill/style and cannot be ignored. defense plays a part in those outs, so instead go by league average BABIP on the batted ball types. then you can have defense neutral, luck neutral value based on batted ball profile/repertoire and Ks, BBs, HBPs, and HRs. doesn’t tERA do something like this?

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11

I am of the opinion that your opponent has a strong influence on your K, BB, and HRA. I feel this way not based on statistical analysis, but because of my experience as a pitcher. When I pitched against top level teams that absolutely refused to swing at junk and sit dead red, my BB rate went up, K rate went down, and HRA rate went up. When I pitched against pretty much everyone else, I could get ahead and get them to chase junk and be successful.

I will say that when you are an elite pitcher (I was not), your overwhelming stuff allows you to pretty much be more consistent against even the better offenses. I would imagine that elite pitchers are pretty consistent with being in the leaderboards for both FIP and ERA.

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