Introducing The xWHIP Calculator

If you have the old version of the xWHIP calculator (anything before v.1.4.3), please download the new one (available through the link below), as it will give you the most accurate projection.

Enjoy!

____________________________

I am forever locked in Mortal Kombat for the souls of sports fans everywhere. Statistics are my science and ‘the immeasurable character of men’ is the obsolete religion of blind faith. My job is to prove that God doesn’t exist and that athletes are merely cold, metal machines with no hearts or souls.

Earlier this week, I projected Cliff Lee’s prospective rest of season WHIP. The formulaic process of calculating his xWHIP got me thinking and I spent the (entire) morning creating an xWHIP calculator (visually based on the THT xBABIP Quick Calculator). If you would like a copy of the program, you can download the xWHIP calculator by clicking here. The password to utilize the excel sheet is soto18.

Explanation of the xWHIP Calculator

According to Gameday data, circa 2005-2010, BABIP by batted ball type is general broken down as follows:

  • Popups: .008
  • Groundballs: 0.237
  • Outfield Flyballs: 0.269
  • Line Drives: 0.733

This data includes home runs, which is why the Outfield Flyball xBABIP is so high. If you take home runs out of the equation, the xBABIP for Outfield Flyballs and Line Drives fall to .174 and .727, respectively.

I’ve taken the above numbers and paired them with a formula that normalizes a pitcher’s line drive percentage to 19% and spits out remaining balls in play (BIP) data. The calculator also features a defensive adjustment so that you can account for a pitcher’s team defense. The defensive adjustment operates under the assumption that all “saved hits” were of the singles variety.

Below is a picture of the xWHIP calculator. The numbers plugged into the model for the picture are those of Tom Gorzelanny through July 17, 2010.

The grey cells are for data you should input. The green cells feature the xBIP data per IP. The blue and orange cells feature xWHIP and xHit calculations. The data cells are pre-formatted to visually round all numbers to keep the sheet clean, though cells will retain the full value of any number entered.

I hope everyone enjoys this. If you have any questions/concerns/comments/criticisms, please email them to
, with the subject line xWHIP Calculator.

On a final note, I would like to give a special thank you to Derek Carty, who (possibly unknowingly) helped me create this xWHIP calculator.

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Comments

  1. Derek Carty said...

    I wanted to note for those curious that this is essentially DIPS WHIP that I’ve used in past articles, but with defense and park effects added.  Very similar.  Good work, Jeff smile

  2. Kyle said...

    your blurb before you get into the stats says it all. your paradigm holds you back, anyway, thanks for another load of useless information.

  3. Derek Carty said...

    Sorry, Kyle, what’s useless about it?  Instead of relying on actual WHIP, which is shaped by and can be misleading due to a high or low BABIP, this normalizes BABIP based on batted ball distribution (which is very stable) and allows us to more accurately say what a pitcher’s WHIP should be.

    If you have qualms with it, though, I’d definitely like to hear specifically what you dislike about it.

  4. Andrew said...

    It’s possible that Kyle may have taken the blurb out of context and found it offensive. Just my two cents.

  5. Ross said...

    This is great work and the initial paragraph that starts the post is brilliant. I would imagine Kyle also spurns FIP, xFIP and RoS projections.

  6. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Ross,

    Thanks. It’s my byline from my other blog “Game Of Inches” >> I’ve been thinking about incorporating it into more posts

  7. Andrew said...

    Excellent discussion.

    For what it’s worth, I’d wager that most THT Fantasy readers use these tools to increase their chances at winning fantasy leagues – nothing more, nothing less.

  8. Pau said...

    Kyle:

    Even if gravity is entwined with our perception, does it make it any less accurate?  As you say, we can’t escape our contextualized perception of reality.  If so, gravity is still useful to us, and still a part of the world around us, even if that world is impossible to observe independently of our perception. 

    I might try another tact here…

    When drafting a fantasy team, do you pick names out of a hat?  I’d assume you don’t.  Picking names out of a hat will almost certainly end with a poor result.  Even if another approach has no more epistemic validity in your eyes, and our model of drafting a team cannot be realized independent of our own perception, we still have more success drafting according to analysis of the data.

    If you wish to continue the conversation through email, I’d be happy to.  My email is
    .

    Judging from the other comments, though, I feel no one is opposed to simply continuing the conversation here.  Also, I don’t really have any formal philosophical background, so if my definitions are off or anything, feel free to correct me.

  9. Kyle said...

    Didn’t find it offensive, just revealing. I’m sure for the diehard saber community this stat will provide something else with which to analyze baseball and to that end, and for that community, it’s a fine statistic. In the recent past I have considered myself a member of this community, but over this past baseball season I find myself moving away from these kinds of statistics precisely for the reason that Derek brought up: that they are trying to tell us what ‘should’ have happened, or what someone’s performance should have looked like once all of the pesky factors are subtracted. I don’t like this for two reasons, 1) what ‘should’ have happened doesn’t actually matter (to me, as a fan) after what actually happens occurs, and 2) These statistics, and the people who use them to analyze, assume that they understand (or have deduced) the relationship between talent and luck and can therefore compartmentalize and track what events stem from talent and what events can be discounted as lucky. I understand fully that what I am writing here might sound completely insane to those people likely to read it, but I’m fine with that, we are coming from very different perspectives. I think the relationship between talent and luck is something that we will never be able to fully understand, i.e. we are never going to be able to figure out what should have happened, or what a players performance should have been, and I have lost my desire to overly concern myself with this aspect of baseball statistics. This has more to do with my views on causality and human perception in general than a desire to exalt “the immeasurable character of men.” I keep my ear to the ground and see what you guys are up too, and I respect the effort and dedication, but concerning oneself with what should be, well, that’s just not something I need from my baseball statistics anymore. If I haven’t burned my bridges with my earlier post I’d love to hear what some people have to say. What is it that these stats give to you that you are truly in need of? As this is something that I am actively struggling with this season I would like to see if the hardcore saber community can win me back, or if I am doomed/blessed to a life of blind faith…

  10. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Kyle,

    the point of these stats is not to alter the past, but to “predict” the future to the best of one’s ability. If you can narrow a production down to “true performance” you can find a baseline for repetition and then adjust based on certain factors. that is the goal of this and other stats like xFIP. You may not be able to strip out the completely neutral stat, but you can do it to the best of one’s ability. Just because it cannot be done perfectly does not mean it should not be done at all. We’re just trying to find the best model to evaluate a player’s talent and future prospects. We’re not saying a final batting average of .363 is not productive. We’re just asking the question “what can we expect next year.”

    Science is inherently inexact. We’re just trying to refine what already exists. We may not have perfect stats, but they are better predictive formulas than “ERA” or “WHIP” or “AVG”.

  11. Derek Carty said...

    Kyle,
    If you are looking at things from a pure fan’s perspective, then I could absolutely see not caring too much about these types of stats.  This is the fantasy section, though, and in the context of fantasy baseball, this kind of analysis is quite important.  If we’re concerned with what’s *going to* happen as opposed to what *already has* happened, that’s when these kinds of stats shine.

    There’s no question that players are human beings, each with their own unique physiologies and psychologies and aging patterns and everything else that you can think of.  That being said, though, if we’re interested in what’s going to happen in the future, we’re going to be far better off by using these types of ‘advanced’ statistics than by simply looking at single year numbers, going with hunches, or listening to the hunches of broadcasters and sportswriters.  And that’s absolute fact.  That’s been proven.  Because while these player’s are human beings, rejecting advanced stats isn’t getting us any closer to truly understanding what makes each and every human being tick.

    While I can’t speak for all sabermetrically-bent writers and analysts, I for one try not to make any assumptions about what I do or don’t know.  I simply look at the data available and make the best use of it that I can.  While we’ll never be able to say with absolutely certainty how good a player is or what he’ll do in the future, this is true of any method we are going to use – “sabermetrics” or otherwise.  What we can do, using advanced statistics, is get closer to the truth.

    While we can’t say with 100% certainty for every individual player that x% of his performance can be attributed to luck and x% to skill, we can look at different stats and say, on the whole, that this stat is x% random over y number of plate appearances (or at-bats or balls in play or whatever).  And this is better than simply looking at a player’s, say, K% and guessing whether or not it’s legitimate.

    And I’m not saying that stats are the only thing either.  I’m in full support of using scouting data, where appropriate, as well.  Check out my bio under my articles.  I say it right there.  I even participated in the MLB Scouting Bureau’s Scout Development program last fall.  I’m a proponent of truth, in process, in thoroughness, and in using all available data to arrive at the best conclusions we can.

  12. Kyle said...

    Question, just to see where we are at as far as a minimum conception goes: Would the universe exist in exactly the same way (have the same natural laws, roughly speaking) if conscious beings who use space and time did not exist? or in another way, if if consciousness is taken out of the equation, would the world continue to exist?

  13. Kyle said...

    I totally get what you are saying, both of you, but let me just respond to a couple of your points independently.

    Jeff: What I have lost, in the sense of what I had when I was fully immersed in these statistics, is a desire to predict the future to the best of my ability. I no longer see the merit. Now if its your job then obviously there is impetus, so it makes sense that you attack it this way. But, again, not to harp on a point, but when you say you are trying to find the best model for evaluating a player’s talent, I really don’t think we have, or will have, any clear picture of “talent” and so every model will be plagued by a misguided trajectory. We can continue to try and hone and tweak the various models, but I think we are looking for something that is necessarily hidden from us. And I’m good with that.

    Derek: I should say that I am a rabid fantasy player. I should also say that I do not believe in absolute facts (now I’m most certainly sure you think I am crazy). I do not think we are getting any closer to the truth with advanced statistics, just like I do not think we are getting any closer to the truth with particle physics. This, as I said, comes from my feelings on the relationship between causality and human perception, both of which don’t have much place on THT. So, forgive me, but I don’t think we shall ever come close to to any sort of agreement on these things.

    What I’ve truly given up, and what has set me free as a baseball fan and as a fantasy player is to stop attempting to come up with the best conclusions and to just enjoy the ride.

    Anyway, I apologize for taking up your time, I’m sure you both could have been working on articles and stats instead of attempting to argue with a radical skeptic.

  14. Derek Carty said...

    I can understand being skeptical, Kyle, although studies have shown that we are much better off with our current methods than we would be by simply winging it.  Sure, we won’t be able to explain certain things or will be wrong about others because we are dealing with human beings, but that’s going to be the case no matter what methods we use.  And using what we do know, these methods get us closer to the answer, which has been proven quantitatively.

    As a fan, if you’re fine to just enjoy the ride, by all means.  But as fantasy players ourselves (and I don’t mean to speak for all of our readers, but I imagine they’re in the same boat as me and the other THTF writers), I think the primary goal is winning.  And if these methods help us win (and I believe they do), then we should use them.

    And it’s no trouble at all having this conversation.  As long as we all behave cordially and explain our thought processes, anyone’s entitled to contribute to the discussion here.

  15. Pau said...

    Kyle: Just as particle physics or gravity or computers (or whatever) may or may not get us closer to an objective truth, they allow us to more accurately model what we observe and perceive. 

    You might not find the calculator used here to be an especially important advancement, if an advancement at all (I just skimmed and didn’t notice any test of validity… though it seems that it should spit out a number with better predictive validity than past WHIP depending on sample size). 

    Yet why is gravitational theory so important?  Rhetorical, I know, but it’s important because it is useful to us.  You might not believe in gravitational theory from an epistemological viewpoint, but not believing in it doesn’t mean gravity doesn’t exist as we observe it.  I’d wager your or my life savings that gravity will exist in the same manner tomorrow as it does today.  While I might not be able to claim “truth” or “knowledge” that gravity will exist tomorrow, no one in their right mind would bet against it assuming they value money as a normal person would.

    Despite imperfections in current gravitational models, it more accurately reflects what we observe and more accurately predicts future observations.  And yes, I understand that we don’t really understand gravity aside from our repeated observation of its existence (Pioneer anomaly aside and non-Newtonian physics aside).

    Obviously, it’s much different than an xWHIP calculator, but it’s useful enough that some people find it important to them.  Further, the tool is enough motivation for its creators to work on it, as well as for readers to use it.

    While you may (or may not) be right that understanding the relationship between talent and luck to be impossible, it doesn’t mean we can’t come up with a more accurate model.  If given the choice, I’d rather measure earth’s gravitational pull as 9.8 m/s rather than ~10 m/s.

    If you disagree that such a difference is worthy motivation, I’d question why you’re curious of our thoughts and feelings on the subject in the first place?  After all, your position seems to assume that any answer we might give is of dubious truth value.  Either you trust that our answers are valuable despite your skepticism, or you can decide they are not worthwhile at all.  Essentially, you’re either doing something completely worthless (if our responses are worthless), or you’re buying into the validity of our responses with no basis for believing they represent our true thoughts/feelings other than sets of assumptions that are also baseless in their truth value.  Maybe that’s a false dichotomy, but if so, care to tell us what your motivations are if our responses should be treated with an equal amount of skepticism?

  16. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I had to make a minor tinker to the tool. I just made an update to the file, but I may need to do some additional tinkering as its been brought to my attention that the xWHIP formula may double account for park factors

  17. Jeffrey Gross said...

    @Pau,

    I omitted validity testing simply because I’m using Tango’s already validated numbers. I’m going to run a handful of xWHIP tests over the course of the season. I’ve already punched in Gorzelanny and Hudson, though I noticed that those two numbers use the wrong PF data (100% versus 50%).

    If anyone out there wants to do the validation work when I get version 2.0 of this model complete, I would greatly appreciate it and perhaps I could convince the guys over here to let that validation work to be posted on the site.

    Alas, for the time being, I would view my tool with a bit of skepticism. The tool might not be properly accounting for PF data and I will fix that either Monday or Thursday morning.

    Also, @Kyle,
    I understand the criticism and I agree with Derek that its not inappropriate to question the method, reasons, etc. I mean, that is what we are doing to “old baseball” anyways. It is our attempts to find the best answer; the best fit line. That is all. I greatly enjoy the volatility of baseball beyond the prediction. The prediction is more of a “what should this team do” view. I do not play “woba” fantasy leagues. I use the volatile 5×5 standards because they add a level of randomness and unpredictability to the game which is stripped away from BB% leagues. I understand the fun of the ride and of the random. Still, this is just an attempt to gain a competitive edge and play better fantasy.

  18. Randy said...

    Kyle, “we” are not trying to predict anything. You are merely someone who has commented on a post, just like me.

  19. Jeffrey Gross said...

    As noted above,

    It has been brought to my attention that the inclusion of Park Factor data “double accounts” for park effects because the original BIP data already accounts for the park effects. Hence, I am removing Park Factors from my tool until I create a 2.0 version of the xWHIP Calculator which will allow translation of a player’s BIP data for one team into another (useful for trade analysis). I have updated the excel sheet accordingly. Enjoy!

    The file linked to in the above post has been updated accordingly. If anyone else notices a problem like this, please notify me immediately

  20. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Not to add another meta type question here, but I must admit (and, it’s an important admission as a fellow THT fantasy writer) that I do have my occassional bouts with advanced stats. My question is more pragmatic though; it deals with the seemingly waning cost-benefit of keeping fully up to date with all the new statistics that pop up everytime somebody invents one.

    The question is, when are we close enough? I assume that as long as the cost of entry into being a sabermetrician is fairly low, the pace at which new stats emerge will not slow. And, perhaps we are plodding along slowly toward perfection, asymptopically. And, as long as competitive fantasy leagues exist (and competitng sources of advice), there will be incentive to keep chipping away at the margins, but it is a different question as to whether each “advance” is actually meaningful. Now, sure, those individually relatively meaningless advances often provide the basis for quantum leaps in the future. But, as an observer/fan/whatever, how close attention should I pay to every baby step, or should I just stick my head up everytime I hear the clamor of something that actually shifts the paradigm. That’s the real question for everybody but the hardestcore sabermetric junkies.

    Since Kyle is waxing philospohical, I’m going to elevate the discussion to with an egregious politcal analogy. This is essentially the same question surrounding the broken US healthcare system and the exponetially rising costs associated, except when we talk investment we’re talking R/D dollars versus mindshare. How many more billions of dollars are we going to continue to invest into improving our MRI machines by .001% – when do we just decide, they’re good enough and focus on making the product accessible to all?

  21. Jason said...

    Great Post and even better discussion in the comments!

    As a fantasy enthusiast myself i find this type of data and advanced stats for that matter…EXTREMELY important in making even the simplest add/drop.

    I would have to agree that these type of advanced stats most certainly give the fantasy player a more in depth model to base decisions on.

    Isnt fantasy baseball just a numbers game in itself?  wouldnt it behoove the fantasy competitor to constantly be updating and innovating new ways to interpret and predict statistical data?

    i certainly understand the difference of fantasy baseball to ACTUAL baseball.  perhaps that is the problem for some.  being unable to switch gears from the number crunching of fantasy baseball to the physicality of actual baseball.

    all and all, i think i mainly just find it “cool” when statistical analysis yields predictive/insightful information. 

    if that information ends up winning a fantasy championship? well, that’s always great too smile

    keep up the GREAT work guys!

  22. Kyle said...

    @Pau

    As to your point about gravitational theory, I disagree, I don’t think gravity is out there independent of conscious minds stuck in time. We are never able to step out of our contextualized perception…ever, and so every single thing we observe or perceive, no matter the model, is always still part of our perceptual apparatus that we can never fully understand…but hey, were getting rather philosophical, if you care to argue this over some emails let me know

  23. Erik said...

    For those using Open Office (on a Mac), how do I put in the password to input numbers into the spreadsheet?

    Thanks.

  24. Train (OR) said...

    @Kyle – I think you pose an unanswerable question, but one that can open doors and minds to new ideas. My answer would be, and a few have touched on this, does it matter? If xWHIP more accurately predicts future performance does it matter if it does so in an existence that is wholly our perception? Or should I say does it matter in your fantasy baseball league? If we play in a fantasy gravity league and I take what goes up must come down and you don’t because you believe gravity only exists in our compartmentalized perception, I take the league title every time.

  25. MarkF said...

    Has anyone done an analysis of the prediction tools?  Which tool (Marcel, Bill James, ZiPS, CHONE, Team Fans, Other Fans, etc.) does a better job at predicting season outcomes? 

    I would think that historical data supporting one system as a year after year better predictor of stats would create the best bragging rights.

    We can all nod our heads and like the logic around the math, but whose math logic predicts the Padres to have a 4-game lead after 91 games?

    Mark

  26. TBO said...

    Mathematicians protect and rescue people from suffering by creating meaningful models of unfamiliar, real-world situations. We use these models to uncover truth, make predictions, and make decisions that optimize scarce resources.

    And anyone trying to add physics references into their post probably should not. Unless you have a PhD in physics, you probably know nothing about anything

  27. Mitch Brannon said...

    I think what Kyle really means is that when your star fantasy player Carl Crawford gets hit in the nuts by a pickoff play against the freaking Orioles, y’all can take your predictive stats and shove them smile

    I am getting more like Kyle in my old age. It only takes a few major traumatic life events to question the wisdom of attempting to predict the future to any degree whatsoever. You can do everything right, but if you’re the one who got hit in the proverbial nuts, then you got hit in the proverbial nuts, no matter how low the odds of that happening were.

    Man plans; God laughs.

  28. Kyle said...

    @Train

    I’m guessing it wasn’t clear from my posts, which is my fault, but it should be noted that I consult an unhealthy amount of these advanced stats before making any moves with my squadron. My problem comes from the ever-increasing cadre of junior/amateur saber writers (not anyone on THT) who speak with a tone of authority not fully supported by their evidence (think freshman philosophy class). Many of them seem bent on discounting almost any player’s success as luck.

    My sweeping comment about xwhips uselessness, which I shall formally retract as of now, comes more from my philosophical struggles with reality than from my experience watching baseball. You’re right, if we want to play these games and live in the world we have to trust what we see to some extent, otherwise we can’t move in any direction at all. However, when someone comes at me (like some of the newer crop of saber writers) with sweeping statements of certainty I generally react in kind with sweeping statements of skepticism (and sometimes that reaction has a touch of childishness to it, see above).

    As to your fantasy gravity league, are we playing in objective reality or subjective? Haha, just kidding.

    Long Live Baseball.

  29. Pernell said...

    I downloaded the excel file (from the link above) but I did not get the updated version. Where can I download the updated version?

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