Sunday, September 2, 2012

Advanced Stats and You: A Look at Pitching Statistics

Well hello there fellow baseball/Mariners fans!  Today, we will be learning and going over a few stats that may find their way into future posts.  I'll do another on hitting stats at some point, but for now, we'll stick with the pitching stats and let them marinate in your brain for a while.  Speaking of Felix Hernandez, he'll be the subject of our in depth look at advanced stats.  If you're willing to follow along and learn more about this stuff, hit that link down there that says "Read More...".  After the jump is where we'll get into the meat and potatoes of this thing.  Also, if you're looking for a site to look at and learn more about the stats we will and will not go over, visit http://www.baseball-reference.com/

Most people have a fairly decent understanding of ERA.  It stands for Earned Run Average.  Basically, the earned runs a pitcher gives up is multiplied by 9 and then divided by the number of innings that pitcher has thrown.  For example, Felix has thrown 204 innings this year and allowed 57 earned runs.  Rounding to the nearest 2 decimal places gives him an ERA of 2.51 for the season.  So if Felix pitched 9 innings in every start, he would've given up 2.43 runs a game.  Obviously he can't give up 2.51 runs a game, but it's used as a measuring stick to tell us how well he pitches in his starts.

The other you may be familiar with is WHIP.  This one is fairly simple in terms of figuring it out and understanding what it means.  WHIP stands for Walks/Hits per Inning Pitched.  You add the number of walks a pitcher gives up, add the number of hits he's given up and divide by the number of innings pitched.  By looking at WHIP, you can see how many baserunners a pitcher allows in an inning.  Felix has given up 48 walks, 165 hits and thrown 204 innings, giving him a WHIP of 1.04, which is outstanding for a pitcher.  Like ERA, it's typically rounded to the nearest 2 decimal places and is used as a measuring stick.  A WHIP of 1.3 is okay, 1.2 is pretty good.  Getting lower than that and the pitcher could be considered as doing quite well.

And now, a few of the advanced stats.  The first one is ERA+.  It's a pitchers ERA adjusted for the home ballpark he pitches in.  Since Felix pitches at Safeco Field, he would be considered to have an advantage.  To calculate it, you divide the ERA for the league by the pitcher's ERA and multiply by 100.  Using this stat is a quick and simple way to see whether or not the pitcher in question is been good, bad or ugly.  100 is considered exactly average.  An ERA+ above 100 is considered good and below 100 is, well, not good, in case you didn't know that.  Knowing that, we'll turn again to our guinea pig of the moment and take a look at Felix's ERA+.  The average ERA for the league is 4.03 and Felix's season ERA is 2.51.  Doing the math gives you an ERA+ of 160.  For some perspective, Felix's ERA+ in his Cy Young season of 2010 was 174.

Now we come to WAR.  What is it good for?  Absolutely something.  The calculation of WAR isn't universal.  FanGraphs, for example, has a different way of doing it than does Baseball Reference.   They're usually in the same vicinity of each other, but where one site says a player has been worth 5 WAR, the other may say 4.3.  Since I use Baseball Reference quite a bit more, we'll stick with their version.  WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement.  With Felix, his WAR is at 5.3 for the season.  So if the Mariners had Joe Average from Triple-A instead of Felix, they'd lose 5.3 of the wins they've gained this season from Felix.  So instead of 64-70 on the season, they'd be sitting at 59-75.  That does NOT mean, strictly speaking, that that's absolutely what their record would be.  There are far more factors that go into a team's performance, but WAR is a very telling statistic, especially with pitchers.  A WAR of 0 is a replacement level player, playing no better than Joe Average would do being fresh from Triple-A.  And yes, you can even have a negative WAR, which defense is a big component of that will be saved for hitters.

There are a few more stats we could sit here and attempt to digest, but we'll stop here and if your curiosity is piqued, I encourage you to visit one of the sites I've linked to.  If you're wondering about some of the other stats that weren't covered, I've placed links to Felix's career numbers with both standard and advanced/player value stats at the bottom of this post.  There are many aspects of even just these few stats that I didn't cover, but may in a future post.  With all the information out there, some I have yet to understand either, I wanted to make this post more....palatable for all of us.  Until next we meet again, fellow fans!

 Felix Standard

Felix Advanced/Player Value 

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