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## Using FIP to evaluate pitchers? I wouldn’t

Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am

 Is Derek Lowe the most overvalued pitcher in baseball this year? If you're looking at FIP he is. (Icon/SMI)
I've seen a lot of articles popping up recently that attempt to evaluate pitchers using the FIP statistic. While the original, underlying premise for FIP is sound, and while it's absolutely better to use than simple ERA, and while there are certainly uses for FIP in some circumstances, for 99 percent of fantasy purposes, I ignore FIP completely and absolutely.

### What is FIP?

FIP is a statistic that attempts to estimate what a pitcher's ERA would be based on his peripheral statistics—or rather, the peripheral statistics originally suggested by Voros McCracken when he introduced DIPS Theory. This includes strikeouts, walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs. While we know that strikeouts and walks are extremely important, eight years after Voros's work was originally published, we can definitively say that home runs aren't entirely under a pitcher's control.

Here's how things work: a pitcher can influence the rate of fly balls he gives up. By this logic, the more fly balls allowed, the more total balls will clear the fences for home runs (all else being equal). However, while a starting pitcher can control the rate of fly balls allowed, he cannot do a very good job of controlling the rate at which those fly balls become home runs (with very few exceptions).

To put it more simply, starting pitchers don't have any underlying ability to prevent home runs—the best they can do is prevent fly balls. If those fly balls are clearing the fence at too high a rate (or too low), we say that the pitcher has been unlucky (or lucky).

And therein lies the problem with FIP.

### Pitchers undervalued by FIP

Here is a list of pitchers that have been undervalued by FIP so far in 2009. If you were to look at the FIP of these pitchers, you would believe that they have pitched worse than they actually have.

To explain the table below, we're seeing the pitcher's LIPS ERA (which also estimates ERA but normalizes HR/FB, in addition to some other things), his FIP, and the difference between the two. I've also included each pitcher's HR/FB rate so you can see just how much this stat influences FIP (for the worse). League average is around 11 percent, and you'll notice that just about every player on this list is well above that number.
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+----------+------+----------+-------+
| LAST        | FIRST      | G  | GS | IP    | ERA  | LIPS ERA | FIP  | LIPS-FIP | HR/FB |
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+----------+------+----------+-------+
| Geer        | Joshua B   | 11 |  9 |  58.7 | 6.14 |     4.48 | 5.97 |    -1.49 |   18% |
| Guthrie     | Jeremy     | 13 | 13 |  73.3 | 5.52 |     4.39 | 5.78 |    -1.39 |   17% |
| Colon       | Bartolo    | 11 | 11 |  55.3 | 4.23 |     4.21 | 5.60 |    -1.39 |   19% |
| Harden      | Rich       |  9 |  9 |  49.7 | 4.53 |     3.18 | 4.47 |    -1.29 |   23% |
| Bush        | David T    | 13 | 12 |  74.7 | 4.58 |     4.34 | 5.52 |    -1.18 |   17% |
| Baker       | Scott S    | 11 | 11 |  67.7 | 5.59 |     3.76 | 4.93 |    -1.17 |   17% |
| Young       | Chris      | 13 | 13 |  73.7 | 4.76 |     4.16 | 5.13 |    -0.97 |   11% |
| Johnson     | Randy      | 13 | 13 |  70.0 | 4.89 |     3.61 | 4.55 |    -0.94 |   22% |
| Galarraga   | Armando    | 13 | 13 |  69.7 | 5.56 |     5.08 | 6.02 |    -0.94 |   17% |
| Blanton     | Joe M      | 12 | 12 |  71.3 | 5.17 |     3.97 | 4.86 |    -0.89 |   19% |
| Suppan      | Jeff       | 13 | 13 |  70.3 | 4.48 |     4.88 | 5.72 |    -0.84 |   16% |
| Moyer       | Jamie      | 12 | 12 |  66.3 | 6.11 |     4.97 | 5.81 |    -0.84 |   16% |
| Parra       | Manny      | 13 | 13 |  64.7 | 7.52 |     4.39 | 5.12 |    -0.73 |   15% |
| Davies      | Kyle K     | 13 | 13 |  77.0 | 5.14 |     4.67 | 5.34 |    -0.67 |   14% |
| Eaton       | Adam       |  8 |  8 |  41.0 | 8.56 |     5.29 | 5.96 |    -0.67 |   16% |
| Looper      | Braden     | 12 | 12 |  68.0 | 4.50 |     4.58 | 5.23 |    -0.65 |   18% |
| Oswalt      | Roy        | 14 | 14 |  82.3 | 4.37 |     3.96 | 4.56 |    -0.60 |   15% |
| Slowey      | Kevin      | 13 | 13 |  78.7 | 4.23 |     3.57 | 4.09 |    -0.52 |   11% |
| Sonnanstine | Andy       | 13 | 13 |  70.3 | 6.65 |     4.97 | 5.48 |    -0.51 |   16% |
| Carmona     | Fausto C   | 12 | 12 |  60.7 | 7.42 |     5.58 | 6.08 |    -0.50 |   18% |
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+----------+------+----------+-------+

While true for nearly all players to some extent, if you see analysis done on these players using FIP, take note that the conclusions should probably be much more positive.

### Pitchers overvalued by FIP

Here is a list of pitchers that have been overvalued by FIP so far in 2009. If you were to look at the FIP of these pitchers, you would believe that they have pitched better than they actually have.
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+----------+------+----------+-------+
| LAST        | FIRST      | G  | GS | IP    | ERA  | LIPS ERA | FIP  | LIPS-FIP | HR/FB |
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+----------+------+----------+-------+
| Lowe        | Derek      | 13 | 13 |  83.7 | 3.44 |     4.75 | 3.20 |     1.55 |    3% |
| Billingsley | Chad R     | 13 | 13 |  85.7 | 2.73 |     4.07 | 2.73 |     1.34 |    3% |
| Stults      | Eric W     |  9 |  9 |  45.0 | 4.80 |     5.47 | 4.14 |     1.33 |    3% |
| Jurrjens    | Jair       | 13 | 13 |  79.0 | 2.85 |     4.83 | 3.53 |     1.30 |    5% |
| Garland     | Jon        | 13 | 13 |  76.0 | 5.45 |     6.42 | 5.13 |     1.29 |    9% |
| Blackburn   | Nick N     | 13 | 13 |  84.3 | 3.31 |     5.40 | 4.22 |     1.18 |    7% |
| Greinke     | Zack Z     | 13 | 13 |  94.3 | 1.72 |     3.01 | 1.92 |     1.09 |    2% |
| Pelfrey     | Mike A     | 11 | 11 |  65.3 | 4.68 |     5.48 | 4.40 |     1.08 |    8% |
| Lincecum    | Tim        | 13 | 13 |  88.0 | 2.66 |     3.24 | 2.22 |     1.02 |    4% |
| Rodriguez   | Wandy      | 13 | 13 |  79.7 | 2.82 |     4.16 | 3.16 |     1.00 |    7% |
| Hammel      | Jason A    | 12 |  9 |  54.0 | 4.33 |     4.94 | 3.99 |     0.95 |   11% |
| Carpenter   | Chris      |  7 |  7 |  44.0 | 1.23 |     3.34 | 2.39 |     0.95 |    3% |
| Jimenez     | Ubaldo     | 13 | 13 |  82.7 | 3.92 |     4.21 | 3.27 |     0.94 |    6% |
| Meche       | Gil        | 13 | 13 |  75.3 | 3.70 |     4.00 | 3.08 |     0.92 |    3% |
| Happ        | J.A.       | 16 |  4 |  45.3 | 2.98 |     5.34 | 4.42 |     0.92 |    9% |
| Pineiro     | Joel       | 12 | 12 |  76.7 | 3.99 |     4.01 | 3.09 |     0.92 |    4% |
| Verlander   | Justin B   | 13 | 13 |  86.3 | 3.02 |     3.26 | 2.36 |     0.90 |    6% |
| Lee         | Cliff      | 13 | 13 |  88.0 | 3.17 |     4.03 | 3.15 |     0.88 |    6% |
| Miller      | Andrew M   | 10 |  8 |  46.0 | 4.30 |     4.45 | 3.62 |     0.83 |    5% |
| Johnson     | Josh       | 13 | 13 |  89.0 | 2.73 |     3.55 | 2.72 |     0.83 |    6% |
| Washburn    | Jarrod     | 12 | 12 |  76.3 | 3.30 |     4.53 | 3.71 |     0.82 |    7% |
| Padilla     | Vicente    | 11 | 11 |  65.3 | 4.82 |     5.70 | 4.89 |     0.81 |    8% |
| Wakefield   | Tim        | 12 | 12 |  76.0 | 4.50 |     5.50 | 4.75 |     0.75 |    6% |
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+----------+------+----------+-------+

While true for nearly all players to some extent, if you see analysis done on these players using FIP, take note that the conclusions should probably be much more negative.

If you're looking for an alternative to FIP for evaluating players on your own, you have a few options. LIPS ERA is my favorite, and it's now available in Heater Magazine. You could also simply go with xFIP, which appears on every THT player page and is sortable on the leaders pages. Other free options include stats like tRA and QERA.

### Concluding thoughts

Hopefully this cleared some things up for some of you, as I know I've gotten a few questions about FIP this season. For those of you who were already aware of its shortcomings, well, hopefully you at least enjoyed chewing on the leaderboards presented. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me or comment.

Derek Carty, 23, has also been published by NBC's Rotoworld, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, and USA Today. This season, he'll be contributing to FanDuel and will be linking to all of his work at DerekCarty.com. In his three years competing in expert leagues, he has won 2 titles with 4 top three finishes, including a LABR NL title in 2009, making him the youngest person to ever win a major expert league title. Derek is a proud graduate of the MLB Scouting Bureau's Scout Development Program and is a firm believer in the importance of combining stats and scouting. He welcomes questions via e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.

Andrew said...

Good stuff, Derek. I like the philosophy behind LIPS ERA and Baseball HQ’s xERA best.

Posted 06/15  at  03:10 AM
Mike Ketchen said...

Derek,

coming from a guy who has been very successful playing fantasy, I use FIP a lot and I have enjoyed a lot of success with it. Your post here slighting it just seems lacking to me. I am a fan of your work and usually come away learning something new each time you write. However something just seems off here. Do you use LIPS and have seen its value from year to year? For example I was big on Vazquez and Lowe this season and both have paid off big for me. Did Lips nail any guys coming into this season? Thanks in advance for any response.

Posted 06/15  at  10:35 AM
The Real Neal said...

When evaluating a pitcher’s ‘true’ talent level this may be useful to know.  But in a given season, which is the range we’re talking about for most fantasy purposes, the HR/FB ratio is going to be influenced by the park the pitcher is playing in,  opposing hitters etc.  It doesn’t make much sense to dismiss it as a vagary of sample size when we know that pitchers in Philadelphia and Colorado are going to tend to yield a higher ratio than those in Petco and Safeco.

Posted 06/15  at  10:46 AM
David Gassko said...

The Real Neal,

LIPS actually takes into account a pitcher’s home park so that a pitcher’s LIPS can be compared directly to his ERA. In other words, LIPS “knows” that a pitcher in PETCO will have a lower HR/F than a pitcher at Coors and adjusts accordingly.

Posted 06/15  at  10:55 AM
The Real Neal said...

Well, color me confused.  It’s difficult to understand what LIPS is because you haven’t given a definition of it.  The other confusing thing is that when I look at the ERA, the LIPS and the FIP, assuming all three are supposed to represent runs/game - LIPS is the least accurate predictor.  Unless your fantasy league uses LIPS… what is the point of the article again?

Posted 06/15  at  12:10 PM
David Gassko said...

The Real Neal,

Both Derek and I have written about LIPS on THT before, but I have been thinking that it might be time for me to write a primer on THT Fantasy. I’ll work on it, and try to have it posted this week. The point of this article (and of LIPS) is that LIPS is the single-best predictor of ERA based on a season’s worth of stats (or less). Better than FIP or ERA itself or anything else that’s out there. So if your league uses ERA, you want to know a pitcher’s LIPS.

Posted 06/15  at  12:25 PM
Drew said...

How do you explain a guy like ubaldo jimenez, who consistently has a low hr/fb?
Also, Lips era has joe blanton having a lower era than chad billingsley?? I know it is just one example, but it raises my suspicions on the method

Posted 06/15  at  01:01 PM
John Burnson said...

Jimenez’s HR/FB the last four seasons are .10, .13, .10, and .08. I don’t think that the first three numbers are unduly low, even for Coors. His low HR/FB this year may be related to his rising GB/FB: from 1.5 in 2007 to 2.8 last year to 3.4 this year. Research indicates that a higher GB/FB is correlated with a lower HR/FB.

As for Blanton/Billingsley, Billingsley has the better K/9 (9.5 vs. 8.1) but Blanton has the better K/BB (2.8 vs. 2.4). The reason you’re suspicious is because Billingsley has HR/FB of 5% (and an ERA under 3.00) whereas Blanton has HR/FB of 23% (and an ERA over 5.00). Naturally, we tend to believe that each pitcher “deserves” his HR/FB; also, Billingsley has recently been very good, and Blanton has not. Nevertheless, their base skills this year are comparable. (Note that LIPS uses actual stats, not “True Talent”; that would be another extension….)

As the inventor of the version of xERA used by BaseballHQ, I appreciate the kind words. I stand by that work. However, if you have the horsepower, LIPS is better. It does a lot of things that I didn’t even attempt to do with xERA.

Posted 06/15  at  01:37 PM
Kampfer said...

Just by looking at your table, it seems that FIP is closer to ERA than LIPS. I am also not sold on the idea that pitcher’s stuff or whatever he has does not have any relationship to HR/FB. HR/FB of pitchers are rather steady throughout one’s career. Could it be that if those flyballs are hit better and end up flying longer than they should be? Some had research on sinker and find out that a faster sinker is better than a diving sinker in generating GB. Could it be that pitcher with high velocity and simultaneously generates a lot of GB have lower HR/FB rate? Lowe generates a lot of GB but give up a more HR per FB, while Jimenez give up fewer per FBs.

Posted 06/15  at  01:44 PM
John Burnson said...

FIP will always be better backward-looking than LIPS, because FIPS uses the pitcher’s actual HR whereas LIPS (and xFIP) use predicted numbers.

Posted 06/15  at  02:32 PM
David Gassko said...

Kampfer,

John’s explanation is exactly right. We don’t care about looking backwards, since we already know what a pitcher’s ERA was. What we’re interested in is what his ERA will be. If you compare how good FIP and LIPS are at predicting that, you’ll see that LIPS takes the cake and is therefore more useful.

As for pitchers controlling their HR/F, I’ve done a lot of work on this, the definitive piece being in the Hardball Times Annual 2007. Pick it up if you’d like to see all the gory details, but the basic conclusion is that pitchers have a tiny bit of control over HR/F, but not much. After many years, a pitcher’s personal HR/F is meaningful, but in one season (or in this case, after two-and-a-half months) it is mostly noise.

Posted 06/15  at  03:21 PM
Eric/OR said...

Honest question - if one replaces “FIP” with “xFIP” above, does this article make sense?  Wouldn’t that *precisely* address the complaint with FIP?

Posted 06/15  at  04:29 PM
David Gassko said...

xFIP is close to LIPS, but it does not take into account as much as LIPS - things like park effects, batted ball types beyond OF flies, etc. xFIP is good, but LIPS is better.

Posted 06/15  at  04:31 PM
Derek Carty said...

Hey guys,
I’ve got a full plate today, but I’ll be around tonight to address all of these comments.

Thanks!

Posted 06/15  at  04:58 PM
Colin Wyers said...

Has anyone done a rigorous test of xFIP/LIPS/xERA/QERA/tRA and whether it actually reflects true talent better than FIP? I’m not doubting that someone has, I just don’t know where to find it.

And Fangraphs now publishes projections updated in-season - shouldn’t that be a better estimate of true talent than any of those?

Posted 06/15  at  05:13 PM
Eric/OR said...

David - I suspected as much, thank you.

Posted 06/15  at  05:16 PM
John Burnson said...

It’s a question of what question you’re asking. There are two questions, “What should the pitcher’s ERA be, given his exhibited skills?” and “What should the pitcher’s ERA be, given his predicted skills?”, and both are legitimate. That’s why Heater includes both LIPS ERA and True Talent ERA.

Posted 06/15  at  05:22 PM
David Gassko said...

Colin,

What John said. Also, I have my doubts as to the quality of the updated projections on Fangraphs, though I’m not going to expound on them in this forum.

Posted 06/15  at  06:02 PM
Derek Carty said...

Mike Ketchen,
As David and John have already pointed out, LIPS does indeed have better than value than FIP year-to-year.

The Real Neal,
I think you might be overestimating the impact of park factors.  It’s much sounder to assume that the player will post a normal HR/FB (we’ll say 10%) and then park adjust from there.  For the most extreme HR park in baseball (U.S. Cellular Field - PF = 1.26), we’d expect a pitcher to post a 12.6% HR/FB while pitching at home.  If we assume a league average mix of road parks though (and an even playing time split), his overall HR/FB would only be 11.3%.  That’s not nearly as bad as most guys on this list (some of whom are in the high teens and even twenties), implying that those rates should and will eventually come down.

It’s actually sounder still to rig up a full projected HR/FB, which would include past numbers, park adjustments, age adjustments, and a heavy regression to the mean component (in addition to some other, mostly optional, things), but the simple exercise above will suffice for most all SPs for practical purposes.

Also, in regard to LIPS, it’s something I’ve written about quite a bit, but I think a primer would be very useful to have for newer readers or those still unfamiliar with LIPS.  As David and John have said, it does some very nice things.

Posted 06/15  at  08:02 PM
Colin Wyers said...

...can someone put a correlation coefficient on it? An RMSE? Average Absolute Error? I’m willing to buy into these more advanced FIP-like measures, but I just want some evidence that they actually do what they say on the label.

Posted 06/15  at  08:03 PM
Derek Carty said...

Drew,
I think John covered your question pretty well.  As I qualified in the article, some pitchers do indeed vary from this general rule, but not very many and not by very much.  Also, because HR/FB is so unstable, we really need to see several years of a pitcher beating the rule for us to say he has some sort of knack for it.  As to Ubaldo, he’s only really bested a league average HR/FB for one and a quarter years now, so I don’t think we can call him an exception yet.  Check out Brett Myers, though.  There’s very little doubt that he is an exception to this rule (for the worse).

Kampfer,
FIP probably should be closer to ERA in this table because there’s some selection bias at play.  On a full list of pitchers, this wouldn’t be the case.  In this table, pitchers with abnormally high or low HR rates are chosen, and while LIPS essentially ignores HRs, FIP does not.  So while both FIP and ERA are counting HRs, LIPS is not, which is exactly what you picked up on.

As to year-to-year consitency, David answered you pretty well.  If you’re seeing year-to-year consistency, it’s coming from an exception like Brett Myers or from players who are hovering around league average, which is what we’d expect.

Posted 06/15  at  08:04 PM
Derek Carty said...

Eric/OR,
It absolutely would, which is why it’s frustrating to see analysts continue to use FIP!  I do prefer LIPS, though, because it’s methodology is sounder, accounts for more things, and tests I’ve run have shown it to have a higher predictive value.

Colin,
I would have addressed you the same way John and David did.  It depends upon the question you’re asking, and I too have some reservations with using the in-season ZiPS projections.  A few I’ve seen have looked a bit strange.

Also, for fantasy purposes, it’s sometimes useful to know how a pitcher is performing *now*, not necessarily his true talent level (or our estimation of it, rather).  At this point in 2008, Cliff Lee’s true talent ERA might have been in the high 4.00s, but that’s not to say he wasn’t worth owning on a fantasy bench to see if he could continue with whatever LIPS ERA he was posting at the time (probably well below 4.00).

As to a test of different ERA estimators, I did run some this past off-season on my own.  Perhaps not the most rigorous possible, but it was pretty well constructed if I remember correctly.  It found that just about every ERA estimator tested (besides ERC, I believe), did better than FIP, for whatever that’s worth.  Maybe I should put together a really good study and publish it.

Posted 06/15  at  08:06 PM
DT said...

excellent article and comments by everyone.
I would love a detailed explanation of LIPS vs xFip if possible.

Posted 06/15  at  10:29 PM
Colin Wyers said...

“Also, for fantasy purposes, it’s sometimes useful to know how a pitcher is performing *now*, not necessarily his true talent level (or our estimation of it, rather).”

If that’s true - and I don’t know that it is, necessarily - then we certainly should be FIP, shouldn’t we? If what we’re after is actual value, not true talent level, it’s wrong to regress the HR/FB. The reason to use FIP or DIPS in that case is not to regress the pitcher’s performance to the mean, but to regress the pitcher’s FIELDER’S performance.

In other words, we use FIP to measure quality of pitching performance right now, not because pitchers have little control over BABIP but because the rest of the defense has a large amount of control over BABIP.

As far as a measure of true talent - I think it matters by how much. FIP has many advantages over LIPS, in that it’s simple to calculate and can be done with official statistics. It’s a “man portable” sabermetric tool, and that explains a lot of ubiquity. It’s not enough to simply assert that it’s better; it should be demonstrated that it’s enough better to justify the step up in complexity.

And at a certain level of complexity, to where I can’t easily calculate it myself - why shouldn’t I just use an updated projection instead, be it ZiPS, Marcels or otherwise?

I think the sort of tables presented here would have worked much better as a sidenote to the sort of study you discuss, rather than as a prelude. There are wide error bars around all ERA estimators (the study I did showed something like a 1-run average error on pretty much everything tested), so I’m not sure how much stock to put in any of the differences shown.

Posted 06/16  at  12:59 AM
David Gassko said...

Colin,

What Derek meant (I believe) was that sometimes a pitcher’s performance is not in-line with his track record. What we want in that case is a statistic that can tell us whether or not his performance thus far has been “real,” in so far as his peripherals backing it up. LIPS is a more useful tool here than FIP. Yes, an updated projection is best but (1) There aren’t any top-notch regularly updated projections out there as far as I’m concerned, and (2) An updated projection can’t give you the same kind of scope that LIPS might. It tells you the pitcher’s most likely talent level at the moment, but it won’t tell you that he’s been blowing that away this season.

Posted 06/16  at  01:11 AM
John Burnson said...

To rely on FIP, you have to believe that a pitcher deserves his HR/FB, often wacky in only 2+ months of play. If you want something simple, swap out HR for 0.11*FB (or whatever), which is xFIP.

Posted 06/16  at  01:13 AM
SharksRog said...

The numbers here indeed make Tim Lincecum seem overvalue by a LOT—but is he?

I agree that Tim’s 2.22 FIP is too low—although his ERA after his first two of what may have been weakened starts is a surprisingly close 2.15.

What I don’t agree is that his LIP is closer to how he has really pitched than his FIP.

First of all, Tim’s ERA of 2.66 is actually closer to the 2.22 FIP than the 3.24 LIP.  Second, that 2.66 ERA includes a BABIP against of .338.  Tim’s bases per hit are among the lowest of all pitchers and watching him pitch, he has given up a TON of hits that weren’t well struck.

Tim’s 23.3% line drive rate is high and would actually support a BABIP of slightly HIGHER than .338, but many of those line drives have been nearly as much fliner/flies and fliner/liners.

In Tim’s rookie season, he allowed 1.61 bases per hit. Last season he reduced that to 1.43 bases.  This season he is down to 1.35.

Meanwhile his BABIP against has risen from .295 to .313 to .338.  As I look at how those numbers fit together, it appears to me there has been less and less solid contact against Tim and more and more floinks that have become base hits.

This season Tim has allowed 16 doubles, but only 1 triple and 3 homers in 13 games.  Close to half of those doubles haven’t been hit very hard, nor have an even higher percentage of his singles against.

I think Tim’s FIP is closer to how he has actually pitched and that despite a possible mini-slump before month’s end, his ERA at season’s end will be closer to 2.22 than to 3.24.

By the way, lest you think that as a Giants fan I favor their pitchers, Matt Cain has pitched closer to his 4.04 FIP than his 2.39 ERA.  Matt’s 88.2% strand rate will almost certainly be close to a dozen points lower by season’s end, and his ERA will jump accordingly.

Matt’s hits and walks against are close to his career averages and his homers are at an all-time high rate for him.  Although he has pitched well in his last five starts and may be on his way to actually PITCHING better the rest of the season, his OPS against is just higher than in 2007, when due to a lack of run and bullpen
support, he went only 7-16 with a 3.65 ERA.

Some have posited that Matt’s home run rate is up because he has had more leads in the past and may have been just throwing strikes in blowout games.  In reality, each of his nine homers against have been in close games in which the game was within two runs either before or after the home run.  All but one were within one run.

Matt’s 2.39 ERA has been refracted with mirrors.  I see no reason why Matt shouldn’t start the All-Star game in his first appearance there, but by season’s end, many will wonder how he got that start.  For Matt, unless he truly starts pitching considerably better, the funhouse is ending.

Posted 06/16  at  02:06 AM
Dave Studeman said...

One thing to remember is that xFIP is a park-neutral stat (at least on the home run line), so it won’t predict future ERA well.  It isn’t constructed to do that.

Posted 06/16  at  07:47 AM
Sky Kalkman said...

Also, for fantasy, we don’t really care about a lot of the neutralization, right?  We WANT to know what ERA a pitcher’s skills combined with park and defense will produce.  You want to use something like DIPS, but using actual team BABIP rates and ballpark rates for HR/FB, BABIP, etc.

Posted 06/16  at  10:09 AM
Cyril Morong said...

I think Colin asked about year-to-year correlation of HR/FB rates. Did anyone address? Maybe I missed it or mis-understood something.

Posted 06/16  at  06:01 PM
David Gassko said...

Cyril,

It was answered. The year-to-year correlation of HR/OF is very, very low, so much so that it’s better to ignore home runs completely unless you have many years of data.

Posted 06/16  at  10:41 PM
Cyril Morong said...

Thanks. I was just wondering if there was an actual number like a correlation of .01. I found a correlation of .30 for HR/BFP, taking out IBBs, year-to-year from 2007-2008, for pitchers with 500+ BFP in each year. That seems a little too high for luck. But it is way less than it was for strikeout rate (.78) or walk rate (.67).

Maybe the .30 is due to pitchers tending to be flyball pitchers year in and year out. Do pitchers ever change or do they tend to stay flyball or goundball pitchers throughout their careers?

Posted 06/16  at  10:50 PM
David Gassko said...

Taking pitchers with 350+ BFP, I found a y-t-y “r” of 0.84 for GB/Batted Ball and a 0.17 “r” for HR/OF in the 2007 Annual.

Posted 06/16  at  10:55 PM
Cyril Morong said...

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Posted 06/16  at  11:36 PM
James said...

Will a pitcher not go far from 11% HR/FB since pitchers cannot control how many HR fly out of the park? If so, what is the normal variance?

Posted 06/19  at  12:54 AM
David Gassko said...

Exactly, James. The range of “true” HR/OF is probably around 9-13%.

Posted 06/19  at  09:40 AM
James said...

Thanks! I will be sticking to xFIP since I don’t have access to LIPS. However, I’ll make sure to keep an eye on the stats that xFIP doesn’t take into account, which I normally do anyway!

Posted 06/19  at  10:46 AM
Matt said...

Derek,
I am just looking back on this article now and noticing that the “overvalued” guys are almost all pitchers that ended the season as players I would have wanted, but the “undervalued” guys are almost guys that were not that good.

Have you done further analysis on this?

Posted 01/28  at  07:05 PM
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