29 February 2012

AL East FIP and Pitching xWARs by Slot

There is a series of articles by Jack Sackman that you can find here.  It is an idea I found interesting an often use when I describe pitchers as a certain type of slot pitcher.  I think in common use a person referring to a guy as a one slot pitcher is more or less actually saying that the guy is a one slot pitcher on a first division team.  In other words, an ace on one of the ten best teams in baseball.  In this series of posts, I plan on going through each division and describing what each slot means and how that relates to teams.
AL East | Central | West
NL East | Central | West
For each team, slots were broken down in 32 starts per slot (for a total of 160 games).  Pitchers were ordered by FIP, lowest to highest.  They were then broken up into slots.  Their FIPs were weighted by inning allotment and a weighted average was calculated for each slot.

An example:
Chris Tillman had an FIP of 3.99 over 11 starts, Zach Britton had an FIP of 4.00 over 28 starts, and Jeremy Guthrie had an FIP of 4.51 over 32 starts.  For the purpose of this study, Tillman's 11 starts all counted for the Orioles slot 1 along with 21 of Britton's 28 starts.  The remaining 7 starts were put into the slot 2 position with 25 of Jeremy Guthrie's starts.  When a pitcher's starts are split between multiple slots, it is assumed that their FIP is equal for every inning thrown and that their IP are equal for every start.

AL East


As you can see above, the Orioles were amazingly bad in comparison to the rest of the AL East.  In terms of FIP, the number 1 slot was worse than all other number 1s in the AL East, worse than the Red Sox, Rays, and Yankees number 2s, and worse than the Rays number 3.

Below is the AL East FIP by Slot Table.

1 2 3 4 5
Orioles 4.00 4.38 4.59 5.01 6.64
Red Sox 3.55 3.78 4.36 4.82 5.33
Rays 3.22 3.41 3.88 4.40 4.90
Yankees 2.88 3.89 4.04 4.33 4.82
Blue Jays 3.66 4.11 4.29 4.82 5.39


The following graph is simply a predicted fWAR value using only FIP and IP as described in this post.  It serves as an approximation of fWAR worth.

Again, all other number 1s generated more worth than the Orioles' number 1, all other number 2s, and three of the number 3s.  In fact, the Orioles number 1 slot was neck and neck with the Rays number 4 slot.  All of this does not even address the wretched state of the team's fifth starters.  If you add in two of Rick VandenHurk's starts, the value would near -5 xWAR.

A basic concept when it comes to WAR is the R.  The replacement level production should be roughly the quality of pitching that is freely available at the AAA level.  In part, you would expect the worst starter on an MLB club to be below replacement level for many clubs because you are likely to be replaced only after you show that you cannot match what a AAA may accomplish.  This idea likely explain why the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles all have negative values to show for the fifth slot.  However, the Orioles are five times worse than the next closest team's production from the fifth slot.  This speaks to either a paucity of talent in the high minors or a willingness to stick with a pitcher long after they show they are not capable of pitching at an MLB level.

Explaining Duquette Starting Pitcher Fancy
For the Orioles, you can blame the paucity of talent on giving innings to pitchers like Mitch Atkins and Jo-Jo Reyes (we will pretend that Rick VandenHurk's starts never happened...we are better off that way).  Brian Matusz' are more about giving a pitcher chance after chance to show he can do something when it is obvious that he cannot.  With this understanding, you can now see why Dan Duquette has authorized the use of a 40 man roster clown car for the team this year.  The Orioles have over a dozen pitchers on the 40 man roster and several more off the roster who have started in the Majors or are capable of starting in the Majors.  The idea is that by deluging the roster with starting pitching, you could hypothetically win 3-5 more games.

Below is the xWAR AL East  by Slot Table

1 2 3 4 5
Orioles 2.50 2.14 1.62 0.17 -4.04
Red Sox 4.01 3.60 2.00 0.83 -0.51
Rays 5.09 5.18 3.29 2.26 0.99
Yankees 6.27 3.19 2.80 1.90 0.86
Blue Jays 3.75 2.86 2.60 0.89 -0.76

Baltimore Orioles by the Numbers
Slot 1 (166.2 IP, 4.00 FIP)
Chris Tillman 13g 62IP 3.99 FIP
Zach Britton 19g 104.2IP 4.00 FIP
Slot 2 (196 IP, 4.38)
Zach Britton 9g 49.2IP 4.00 FIP
Jeremy Guthrie 23g 146.1IP 4.51 FIP
Slot 3 (195 IP, 4.59 FIP)
Jeremy Guthrie 9g 57.1IP 4.51 FIP
Alfredo Simon 16g 94.1IP 4.59 FIP
Tommy Hunter 7g 43.1IP 4.71 FIP
Slot 4 (169.2 IP, 5.01 FIP)
Tommy Hunter 4g 25IP 4.71 FIP
Brad Bergesen 12g 62.1IP 4.84 FIP
Chris Jakubauskus 6g 27.1IP 5.00 FIP
Jake Arrieta 10g 54IP 5.34 FIP
Slot 5 (149 IP, 6.65 FIP)
Jake Arrieta 12g, 65IP, 5.34 FIP
Jo-Jo Reyes 5g, 23.2IP, 7.12 FIP
Brian Matusz 12g, 49.2IP, 7.66 FIP
Mitch Atkins 3g, 10.2IP, 8.93 FIP

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