Ranking Free Agent Pitchers by TIPS

TIPS is a new ERA estimator that I have created. The post on the estimator can be found here.

In short, TIPS is an estimator that attempts to measure pitcher skill completely independent from all other factors other than batter-pitcher relationships (removing defense, catchers, umpires, batted ball luck, etc.). The formula is:

TIPS 6.5*O-Looking(PitchF/x) – 9.75*SwStr% – 4.8*Foul% + C (around 2.60)

where: O-Looking(PitchF/x) = 1 – O-Swing% (PitchF/x), SwStr% = percent of pitches swung at and missed, Foul% = percent of contacts fouled off

The estimator was found to be the most predictive of any estimator in samples less than 70 IP.

I have taken the free agent custom leaderboards provided by Dave Cameron and ranked the pitchers by TIPS.

TIPS may not have as much power with starting pitchers, since the samples will be larger than 70 IP, but since these pitchers will be changing defense, park, and catcher, I believe it can be useful (when used with FIP and xFIP). Click this text for the starting pitcher leaderboard.

If you cannot view the google spreadsheet, here are the top free agent starting pitchers by TIPS. Yes, I know Lincecum has since signed, but he is still included.

Rank Name IP ERA FIP xFIP TIPS
1 Scott Kazmir 158 4.04 3.51 3.36 3.55
2 Shaun Marcum 78.1 5.29 3.64 4.22 3.57
3 Tim Lincecum 197.2 4.37 3.74 3.56 3.58
4 Dan Haren 169.2 4.67 4.09 3.67 3.64
5 A.J. Burnett 191 3.30 2.80 2.92 3.65
6 Tim Stauffer 69.2 3.75 3.55 3.20 3.70
7 Phil Hughes 145.2 5.19 4.50 4.39 3.71
8 Josh Johnson 81.1 6.20 4.62 3.58 3.72
9 Ricky Nolasco 199.1 3.70 3.34 3.58 3.75
10 Matt Garza 155.1 3.82 3.88 3.73 3.75
11 Tim Hudson 131.1 3.97 3.46 3.56 3.76
12 Hiroki Kuroda 201.1 3.31 3.56 3.60 3.78
13 Andy Pettitte 185.1 3.74 3.70 3.88 3.83
14 Ervin Santana 211 3.24 3.93 3.69 3.89
15 Aaron Harang 143.1 5.40 4.79 4.38 3.93
16 Roberto Hernandez 151 4.89 4.63 3.60 3.95
17 Roy Oswalt 32.1 8.63 3.08 3.39 3.96
18 Bruce Chen 121 3.27 4.12 4.93 4.02
19 Jeff Francis 70.1 6.27 4.54 3.82 4.02
20 Chris Capuano 105.2 4.26 3.55 3.67 4.04
21 Ubaldo Jimenez 182.2 3.30 3.43 3.62 4.04
22 Erik Bedard 151 4.59 4.38 4.61 4.09
23 Chad Gaudin 97 3.06 3.34 4.00 4.15
24 Jason Hammel 139.1 4.97 4.93 4.56 4.15
25 Paul Maholm 153 4.41 4.24 3.89 4.18
26 Jason Vargas 150 4.02 4.09 4.29 4.22
27 Edinson Volquez 170.1 5.71 4.24 4.07 4.23
28 Freddy Garcia 80.1 4.37 5.49 4.00 4.28
29 Roy Halladay 62 6.82 6.14 5.10 4.31
30 Barry Zito 133.1 5.74 4.92 4.81 4.34
31 Bartolo Colon 190.1 2.65 3.23 3.95 4.36
32 Wandy Rodriguez 62.2 3.59 4.42 4.00 4.36
33 Scott Feldman 181.2 3.86 4.03 3.96 4.37
34 Mike Pelfrey 152.2 5.19 3.99 4.54 4.53
35 Jon Garland 68 5.82 4.93 4.54 4.57
36 Joe Saunders 183 5.26 4.72 4.23 4.63
37 Ryan Vogelsong 103.2 5.73 4.91 4.50 4.70
38 Bronson Arroyo 202 3.79 4.49 3.97 4.72
39 Jake Westbrook 116.2 4.63 4.62 4.95 4.78
40 Jason Marquis 117.2 4.05 5.65 4.81 4.83

Kazmir, Marcum, Haren, Hughes, and Johnson all look like really good value signings (when comparing their ERA and FIP/xFIP/TIPS). Scott Kazmir is someone who I believe could be a legit number 2 guy moving forward if he can keep his velocity. I know Jason Marquis had a 4.05 ERA, but he is someone you should be wishing your team does not sign.

But now on to where TIPS really shines, relievers!

Here is the RHP leaderboard and LHP leaderboard. I am also providing the full combined leaderboard:

Rank Name IP ERA FIP xFIP TIPS
1 Edward Mujica 64.2 2.78 3.71 3.53 2.58
2 Manny Parra 46 3.33 3.07 2.79 2.95
3 Joaquin Benoit 67 2.01 2.87 3.16 3.00
4 Boone Logan 39 3.23 3.82 2.71 3.01
5 Jesse Crain 36.2 0.74 1.52 2.94 3.06
6 Joe Nathan 64.2 1.39 2.26 3.27 3.06
7 Javier Lopez 39.1 1.83 2.41 2.92 3.08
8 Oliver Perez 53 3.74 3.26 3.36 3.31
9 Matt Belisle 73 4.32 3.03 2.99 3.39
10 Fernando Rodney 66.2 3.38 2.84 3.11 3.41
11 David Aardsma 39.2 4.31 5.27 4.63 3.43
12 Chad Durbin 16 9.00 5.99 4.44 3.47
13 Jose Valverde 19.1 5.59 6.36 4.09 3.49
14 Jon Rauch 16.2 7.56 3.47 4.16 3.51
15 Carlos Marmol 49 4.41 5.19 4.53 3.54
16 Rafael Betancourt 28.2 4.08 3.22 4.22 3.54
17 Grant Balfour 62.2 2.59 3.49 3.42 3.55
18 Tim Stauffer 69.2 3.75 3.55 3.20 3.70
19 Matt Thornton 43.1 3.74 4.04 4.13 3.7
20 Chad Qualls 62 2.61 3.32 3.25 3.72
21 Michael Gonzalez 50 4.68 4.87 3.88 3.75
22 Luis Ayala 33 3.27 3.68 3.77 3.82
23 Kameron Loe 26.2 7.09 8.41 4.69 3.82
24 Jason Frasor 49 2.57 3.37 3.62 3.86
25 Scott Downs 43.1 2.49 3.09 3.3 3.86
26 LaTroy Hawkins 70.2 2.93 3.06 3.12 3.91
27 Rich Hill 38.2 6.28 3.82 4.12 3.96
28 Matt Guerrier 42.2 4.01 3.82 4.44 3.97
29 Jamey Wright 70 3.09 3.13 3.48 3.97
30 Eric O’Flaherty 18 2.5 4.1 3.8 3.97
31 Matt Lindstrom 60.2 3.12 3.15 3.87 4.00
32 Brandon Lyon 34.1 4.98 3.98 4.48 4.02
33 Mark Lowe 11.2 9.26 5.79 6.55 4.13
34 J.P. Howell 62 2.18 2.89 3.48 4.14
35 Joba Chamberlain 42 4.93 5.64 4.60 4.15
36 Chad Gaudin 97 3.06 3.34 4.00 4.15
37 Joe Smith 63 2.29 3.60 3.70 4.26
38 Matt Albers 63 3.14 3.49 3.82 4.35
39 Shawn Camp 23 7.04 7.05 4.93 4.42
40 Kyle Farnsworth 38.1 4.70 4.14 3.73 4.46
41 Kevin Gregg 62 3.48 4.10 4.38 4.54
42 Scott Atchison 45.1 4.37 3.75 4.02 4.57
43 Darren Oliver 49 3.86 4.05 3.74 4.72
44 Hideki Okajima 4 2.25 7.3 5.76 5.08
45 Brett Myers 21.1 8.02 8.72 4.80 5.28
46 Peter Moylan 15.1 6.46 6.18 5.86 5.37
47 Tim Byrdak 4.2 7.71 8.62 5.68 5.54

There are a few notable FA relief pitchers. Mujica, Benoit, Nathan, Rodney, Balfour, Hawkins, and Gregg all closed this year. Crain is a pitcher who could potentially close as well. Looking at the closers, Mujica is alone in the top tier by TIPS. Then Benoit, Crain, and Nathan are second tier. Rodney and Balfour are in the next tier, while Hawkins and then Gregg are in the final tiers. Gregg in particular looks like a RP that no team should touch. Parra and Logan make for some good LOOGY signs if teams are looking for left-handed relievers. There a quite a few names in this list that would do a fine job in filling out a bullpen. It goes to show that trading for bullpen pieces might be akin to trading your brother or sister your blueberry for their strawberry when there is a pack of strawberries on the counter. A bit of a random analogy, but it makes sense. The SP crop is much thinner than the RP crop. There are no big name or potential number 1 pitchers in the FA crop, which means teams that are looking to add to the front of their rotation might have to do so through trade.

On a bit of a side note, I wanted to talk a little more about TIPS. Why does TIPS really like Mujica? It loves his amazing 44.2% O-Swing% and his 12.5% SwStr% isn’t too shabby either. O-Swing% (I use the PitchF/x value), SwStr%, and Foul% are peripherals that you should be accustomed to looking at and understanding. Foul% is not readily available, but is not too hard to calculate. What value is good? What is bad? I will explain here:

To finish this off, I’d like to say Koji Uehara is a monster. 39.2% O-Swing% (Above Excellent), 18.5 SwStr% (Above Excellent), and 60.8% Foul% (Almost Excellent).



Print This Post



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ryan Christensen
Member
Member
Ryan Christensen

Interesting stuff! How are you calculating Foul% though?

AK7007
Member
AK7007

Any ideas as to why it breaks down for SP?

AK7007
Member
AK7007

Nvmd, re-read the original post. Interesting stuff. I wonder how much front offices have been looking at things like this.

Anirudh Kilambi
Member

Hm, so I wonder if TIPS has a systematic bias against junkerballers. This is more of a preliminary thought, really, but I find the bottom of the TIPS rankings generally don’t favor pitchers with “good stuff”, but some of these pitchers (Bronson Arroyo comes immediately to mind) have been successful. My thought is that pitchers who generate more in-play weak contact would generally be undervalued; once the ball is in play, and not missed or fouled, TIPS seems to assume that all pitchers are the same.

I however was unsatisfied with my attempts to correct the (perceived) problem using xBABIP and any particular batted ball stat (no strong correlations to work with).

Also, going back to Arroyo, I don’t sense that this year is a Pitch F/X anomaly, and neither was his run prevention, yet TIPS hates him. Food for thought…

I guess a solution could be to average TIPS and SIERA, but that strikes me as a band-aid sort of thing.

Ryan Christensen
Member
Member
Ryan Christensen

What was your TIPS for Arroyo? My thought as to why it doesn’t like him is his BABIP, 20 points lower than his career average.

Anirudh Kilambi
Member

Arroyo’s TIPS was 4.72, which was almost exactly two standard deviations below average, among the pool of 100+ inning pitchers. 14 points of BABIP doesn’t strike me as enough to make the pitcher 3rd worst among all pitchers with 100+ innings last year.

wpDiscuz