In my “What do ya’ll want to see post”, Bob asked about FIP and the Cardinals. Before I throw the summary table out there let me say a few things about FIP. First, here’s some good reading on it from Fangraphs. There was also some good discussion at BtB on xFIP/FIP/other metrics and how to judge past performance.

Some things to remember about FIP

  • The formula only takes into account HRs, Ks, and BBs, but that doesn’t mean it ignores all other balls in play.  It assumes all other balls in play are equal, and equal for all pitchers.
  • Guys that pitch to contact can still have good FIPs as they will likely keep the BBs and HRs down.  Don’t believe me?  Last year Joel Piniero’s FIP was better than his ERA (3.27 to 3.49)
  • FIP is also timing independent.  The order of events doesn’t matter.

Those are just a few points.  Google FIP and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of primers that do a much better explanatory job than I would.  On to actual numbers

Here’s a quick table from Fangraphs summarizing 2010 so far

Name ERA FIP xFIP
Adam Wainwright 2.24 3.07 3.18
Ryan Franklin 2.16 3.11 4.23
Jaime Garcia 2.1 3.36 3.73
Brad Penny 3.23 3.46 3.83
Jason Motte 2.25 3.54 3.54
Mitchell Boggs 2.55 3.62 4.16
Kyle McClellan 2.43 3.73 3.8
Kyle Lohse 5.89 3.77 5.15
Chris Carpenter 3.16 4.06 3.77
Dennys Reyes 2.74 4.18 4.39
Noel Salas 1.23 4.23 4.5
Trever Miller 3.15 4.64 4.91
Blake Hawksworth 5.02 4.97 4.29
Jeff Suppan 4.19 5.26 5.08
Adam Ottavino 8.46 6.18 4.98
P.J. Walters 7.94 6.43 5.54

You’ll note that the vast majority of the staff has an ERA lower than their FIP (and xFIP usually). Does that mean that the staff is due for some nasty regression in the 2nd half? Probably, but I went off in search of some anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Both Carpenter and Wainwright have had better ERAs than FIPs in all of the years they have logged significant innings for the Cardinals. As a team the Cardinals have had a better ERA than FIP quite often since 2004 as shown in the below table

ERA FIP UZR
2010 3.28 3.87 5.1
2009 3.66 3.82 -22.1
2008 4.2 4.4 19.8
2007 4.67 4.66 2.5
2006 4.54 4.77 0
2005 3.49 4.09 4.7
2004 3.74 4.17 15.4

I put UZR in as a team defense point of reference. Looks like the team has been able to “outpitch” their FIP in the recent past, but the magnitude (0.60) that we see this year is on the high side. Something to keep an eye on for the rest of the year.

This post has been modified from it’s original content, no thanks to some pesky calculation errors.

Follow the money trail! The stat de jour is SIERA, created by Matt Schwartz and Eric Seidman of Baseball Prospectus. SIERA stands for Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average, and let’s face it, See-air-ah is a lot more graceful off of the tongue than Ecks-fip. The BP writers say that SIERA accomplishes the following -

  1. Allows for the fact that a high ground-ball rate is more useful to pitchers who walk more batters, due to the potential that double plays wipe away runners.
  2. Allows for the fact that a low fly ball rate (and therefore, a low HR rate) is less useful to pitchers who strike out a lot of batters (e.g. Johan Santana’s FIP tends to be higher than his ERA because the former treats all HR the same, even though Santana’s skill set portends this bombs allowed will usually be solo shots).
  3. Allows for the fact that adding strikeouts is more useful when you don’t strike out many guys to begin with, since more runners get stranded.
  4. Allows for the fact that adding ground balls is more useful when you already allow a lot of ground balls because there are frequently runners on first.
  5. Corrects for the fact that QERA used GB/BIP instead of GB/PA (e.g. Joel Pineiro is all contact, so increasing his ground-ball rate means more ground balls than if Oliver Perez had done it, given he’s not a high contact guy).
  6. Corrects for the fact that FIP and xFIP use IP as a denominator which means that luck on balls in play changes one’s FIP.

SIERA comes out smelling like a rose when tested against other ERA estimators. In case you’re wondering, the formula for SIERA is -

SIERA = 6.145 – 16.986*(SO/PA) + 11.434*(BB/PA) – 1.858((GB-FB-PU)/PA) + 7.653*((SO/PA)^2) +/- 6.664*(((GB-FB-PU)/PA)^2) + 10.130*(SO/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA) – 5.195*(BB/PA)*((GB-FB-PU)/PA)
where +/- is as before such that it is a negative sign when (GB-FB-PU)/PA is positive and vice versa.

Here’s your 2009 Cardinals, by SIERA, sorted by IP.


Name IP SIERA ERA FIP ERA-SIERA FIP-SIERA
Adam Wainwright 233 3.38 2.63 3.20 0.75 -0.18
Joel Pineiro 214 3.57 3.49 3.36 0.08 -0.20
Chris Carpenter 192.7 3.36 2.24 2.86 1.12 -0.50
Todd Wellemeyer 122.3 5.07 5.89 5.37 -0.82 0.29
Kyle Lohse 117.7 4.47 4.74 4.60 -0.27 0.14
Brad Thompson 80 4.74 4.84 4.70 -0.10 -0.04
Kyle McClellan 66.7 4.44 3.38 3.98 1.06 -0.46
Ryan Franklin 61 4.32 1.92 3.27 2.40 -1.06
Mitchell Boggs 58 4.49 4.19 4.20 0.30 -0.29
Jason Motte 56.7 3.83 4.76 4.86 -0.93 1.03
Trever Miller 43.7 2.88 2.06 3.41 0.82 0.52
Dennys Reyes 41 4.20 3.29 3.91 0.91 -0.30
Blake Hawksworth 40 4.69 2.03 3.83 2.66 -0.86
John Smoltz 38 2.98 4.26 2.75 -1.28 -0.23

A couple of quick thoughts -

  • John Smoltz is 43 years old. I get it. But he deserves a job, because he’s still really good at what he does. Discrimination against the elderly is an ugly thing, MLB general managers.
  • Our bullpen could really suck next year. Our best reliever is a LOOGY. Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan and Blake Hawksworth all had spiffy ERAs, but their SIERA indicates their skills are nigh replacement level. That doesn’t quite “feel” right, so take it for what it’s worth. I still get a sense of evil foreboding about our ‘pen for ’10.  Jason Motte on the other hand comes out looking like the Jason Motte we hyperventilated about not that long ago.
  • Revisiting the turd-storm that was the NL Cy Young this past season, Tim Lincecum’s SIERA was 2.73. Javier Vazquez was 2.87. Dan Haren’s was 3.37.  Just stirrin’ the pot.
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